Peter Drucker said if you want to understand an organization, look whom they promote. I would humbly add, look whom they hire. As an organization, the individual promoted and hired speaks volumes about the values, culture, and intentions of the firm.

Employee’s look to Senior Management to validate culture. If the C-Suite walks the walk, it is seen and heard by all. If leadership says one thing and does another, that message is sent too.

Compensation is strategy. How a company handles compensation delivers a message, ranging from, “we value you and your contribution,” to, “you’re a cog in our wheel.” Often, compensation reflects internal equities and systems rather than the external marketplace. The marketplace for talent does not notice if your company’s compensation practices need revision. Executives open to change seek both career growth, and financial rewards. It’s human nature to want to better oneself, and to have more to provide for the family.

As profitability resumes, the market for talent heats up. The Forest Products Industry, as an industry segment, has a shallow bench. I’ve often heard company executives say they cannot find good people. More often, these organizations don’t venture outside their networks or known relationships. There are excellent executives scattered throughout the industry. Many of them will move for the right opportunity. They seek opportunity and market based rewards.

Primary industries such as Forest Products that lack short product cycles (How many smart phones have you purchased the last few years?) struggle with innovation and flexibility. Tear a page from Apple and Google. Hire the best, pay them well with a good incentive structure, and watch your business profit.