BY: TRAVIS DONNELL WALKER J.D.
Source, Hire, Onboard, Develop! Every leader who wants to be great should burn these into their brains. A+ people make you look like an A+ leader; so what would you guess C+ employees make you look like?
I have had the pleasure of being a senior-level leader at billion-dollar companies. I have made more mistakes than I can count. I learned from those mistakes and developed trainings that I’ve delivered to sales and support teams all across the country. In an age where divisiveness, hate, and anger, seem to be the sentiments you see on social media and traditional media, I wanted to try to be helpful. I wanted to share some of the past learnings that have allowed me to develop top-performing teams, that have produced in the collective BILLIONS in revenue over my career. I hope that these learnings can help you begin to develop a team that can take your business to the next level.
The 4 actions above are key in making sure you hire A+ people. Let’s dive into each of them individually so that you can make your team your own.
It’s important to attract the right talent to your team. It’s easier to hire an A+ person and keep her there, then to hire a B+ and try to move them to an A+. But what does A+ look like? Most leaders go into the process of adding someone to their team with the idea that they will hire the best person for the job. Circumstances tend to influence leaders’ conviction to never compromise on talent. No circumstance should EVER lend itself to the notion that you need to compromise. NEVER COMPROMISE! Look into my virtual eyes!!! If you compromise here, you will get an employee that compromises their work. You, your business, your teammates, and most importantly, your customers, don’t deserve this. Be understaffed with the right people vs. overstaffed with the wrong people. It’s not fair to the employee that you’re hiring. You are going to set expectations for them that they can’t reach. This will inevitably lead to either 1) they hate their job; 2) you fire them when they could have been looking for another position that was better suited for them; 3) you don’t say anything or do anything and your business suffers, and they fail. None of those options seem to make sense to me. So how do you not make these mistakes?
- Never compromise on talent (had to say it again).
- Have a clear idea of the core competencies needed to be successful in this role. Develop them with your top performers.
- Communicate these to your HR team, your management team, and all employees.
- ABC…Always Be Recruiting. Look for talent EVERYWHERE! Don’t be ashamed to walk up to people exhibiting core competencies that you value and recruiting them personally.
Start with top talent! It’s 50% of the battle.
We’ve now sourced a great batch of candidates. We think that these people have the right core competencies. They seem to have experiences that show that they can be successful. Lastly, they properly followed the application submission process. (Trust me, if they are struggling with finishing their application, they are going to struggle living up to your expectations in this digital world. PASS!!!!!). Now it’s time to make sure that we have the proper hiring process to confirm what we think about this person. Open-ended, core competency-based questioning is the key to making sure that you don’t miss the mark here. A core competency is something that is in the core of who that person is. They were either born with this trait, or have spent considerable time developing this trait into a strength. So if you’re looking for a salesperson, for instance, you might want someone who can sell “really” good. But what makes someone, sell “really” good? They may have the ability to be resilient so that they won’t be phased by rejection. They may be a great listener, so they understand how to bring value to the customer. Listening skills and resiliency are the core competencies. So my questions will be centered around an experience where they had to show this core competency. It may not be in the workplace, and a lot of times, I like the examples where it isn’t. There are a ton of applicants who can talk a “good game,” but when you ask them experience-based questions, related to your core competencies, you’ll see where the rubber truly meets the road. “Tell me about a time when” or “Share with me an experience when,” allows for you to hear specific feedback on a specific time where the candidate specifically showed that they possess this core competency. Here are some things to remember to make sure your interview process is a smooth one.
- Multiple touchpoints i.e. HR, then hiring manager, and then maybe a senior leader
- Open-ended questions! Make sure they have to explain. They have to be specific.
- Core competency-based questions and hiring process. If they have them, hire…if they don’t, pass!
- Same questions to all applicants, same overall experience for all candidates.
- No distractions. Turn your phone and computer off. Focus on the candidate! AND SMILE!
- LISTEN to what they’re saying, not what you think they’re saying.
- Throw your biases out the door. They aren’t welcome here.
Ok, now we got um scouted, they crushed the interview and now, it’s time to make sure we give them all the tools they need to “win” from day one. A proper onboarding process is the key to getting this employee off on the right foot. Remember, they put their best foot forward to get here, you have to put your best foot forward to keep them here. A good onboarding program has 3 Ps: professional, prepared, precise.
Professionalism is key in making a good 1st impression. Does it start on time? Does the person onboarding seem engaged? Has everyone dressed appropriately?
Prepared! Is the process thought out? Does it flow from point 1 to point 2? Is everything relevant to what the person needs to know about the company and their job? Are all the slides or material correct?
Precise! Is the info correct? Is it exactly what you want the new employee to know? Is it the stuff that will make them successful, or is it just “mumbo jumbo?”
Take it another way, if the CEO had to sit through the onboarding process, what would be their 1st impression? If the CEO is you, how do you want employees to view their 1st day with the company? Would they want to come back for day 2? If you take the time to make sure that your “stamp” is all over this process, you will find that onboarding will be impactful, and your employees will know exactly what is expected of them. They will also be equipped with the tools to be successful.
- BONUS – Onboarding doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be a 1-day, 1-week, processes. It should be a continuous learning process, with checkpoints, throughout at least, the 1st 90 days.
Like any good roll of film, if you don’t develop it, it won’t be worth anything. You’ve got this A+ talent, you’ve pointed them in the right direction, why wouldn’t you want to provide ongoing training, feedback, and perspective to keep them engaged and performing? 67% of employees say that they quit their jobs because of their leadership. The development of your employees is key to being the leader that they deserve. The goal is that they develop into the best version of themselves through constant molding and shaping. The good news is, as you are molding them, they will probably be molding you. You want to learn from A+ talent. My goal was to always hire someone who was better than me at something! They should bring something to our team that is missing. If I am constantly being challenged by my team, then I can grow; which allows me to develop them more effectively. The keys to the successful development of your employees are
- Make it intentional. Off the cuff is fine at times, but employees don’t recognize this as development. Let your team know, “we are doing training now,” or “let’s sit down and talk about this specific deal, I’d love to give you feedback for growth.”
- Prepare. Your employees deserve the best of you. You ask for the best of them, don’t you?
- Make it relevant to their goals.
- Develop the whole person, not just a robot.
- Take the time to learn the best way to communicate with each person. It’s your job to come to where they are, not the other way around.
- They should leave the conversation with clear expectations of what you expect from them.
In conclusion, anyone can be a great leader with the right effort, focus, and desire to grow into the best version of themselves. Your employees deserve it, so give them that version of you!
If you need help, would like more detail, have insight, or would just love to talk through any of the points here, please reach out.