Use people strategy as your competitive advantage

By Mike Bensi, advisor, FirstPerson

I was flipping through some old school papers I’ve hung on to for far too long and found my notes from Michael Porter’s book, Competitive Advantage. If you haven’t heard of Michael Porter, here’s a great summary of him and the business ideas and strategies he’s shared over the years.

In this particular book, Porter said companies win over their competitors by being cheaper or by being different — being perceived by the customer as better or more relevant. There are no other ways.

While Porter was speaking to competition within business, we can apply this to the competition for talent we’re experiencing today. Companies have two ways to gain an advantage over other companies looking for the same talent: pay the most or be so different from other companies it’s easy to draw in and keep top talent.

Playing the numbers game is not sustainable, and applicants don’t rank this in the top criteria when looking for jobs. Companies must reflect on how their people strategy is better and different than other companies. To accomplish this, think like Porter and create a “value chain” within your employee lifecycle. This value chain should focus on five stages of your employee lifecycle as a series of activities which link together. With it, you’ll be better able to show talent how you stand out from the rest.

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