Join Rob Friday & George Torok for a morning of superior sales leadership content.
Rob Friday - Talent Optimization Consultant and Author of Talent Optimizer: Why some companies always get great people.*
Are you looking for your next rain maker?
Rob will share insider tips from leading sales organizations. Learn how to attract, screen and hiring top performing sales talent.
*As an added bonus attendees will receive a free copy of Rob's new book Talent Optimizer. Complements of Predictive Success.
George Torok - Executive Speech Coach | Presentation Skills Training & Coaching | Communication Skills Expert
Deliver Superior Presentations…because inferior never wins.
When you speak you compete for the attention, belief and influence of your audience.Inferior communication wastes time, loses money and fuels stress.In this presentation you’ll discover practical techniques you can immediately use to project more confidence, engage your audience and emphasize key messages. Imagine the difference that could make for you and your team.
This is a free session for CEOs, Presidents and Sales Leaders.
A light breakfast will be served.
Free parking on site.
As workers become more skilled and educated, their value to an organization increases exponentially. This changes the nature of the employee-employer relationship as it requires new strategies that attract and retain talent. What managers must do now if they want their organization to be successful is to re-evaluate their place in the healthy marriage between labour and leadership. My consulting work focuses on addressing this changing relationship through what I call the Talent Optimizer process.
The Talent Optimizer process emphasizes that hiring, engaging, motivating, and retaining today’s worker requires a fundamentally different approach than the one that was taken in the twentieth century. Adapting to this change takes work, dedication, and a mindset that regards your people as your top priority, and not everyone understands this. From my years of consulting, I have found that there are typically two types of managers:
The Role of Education and Training
First, we need to recognize the work and dedication required to master anything. Take the world's most successful athletes. Most top athletes undoubtedly have been blessed with natural talents, but to achieve such success also requires high-performance training. The success of someone like, say, John Tavares, hangs on his fierce dedication towards developing his skills and abilities. To master the sport of Hockey, someone like John Tavares had to put the work in. It is no different in the workforce.
Whether you are a manager of a large team, or merely a new recruit, dedicating yourself to growing your skillset and abilities through independent learning is essential. But as a manager, you need to ask yourself how you can create a work culture that embraces this learning, and how you can bring on recruits who abide by this principle. Finding people with a learning mindset is one of the most challenging but also the most important thing you can do as a leader. Most people are not interested in independent learning, especially when it comes to their work. So let's review a few tactics that I, as well as some of my successful colleagues, have used in the recruiting process.
One thing I like to do in an interview is to ask a candidate what they have been reading. For one, I am curious to know if they value reading for their personal growth. But then I follow up with a simple question: "So, what did you learn from this book?" Then I ask, "So how did you apply this learning? What difference did it make in your life or job?" These questions aren't concerned with what facts they have accumulated. Instead, they are concerned with how they applied what
they learned. And the answer to these questions can identify which candidate is interested in personal growth for themselves and their performance.
My friend, Dev Basu, CEO of Powered By Search, actually shares the same concern when hiring. He asks that those who work for him abide for the principle that they “Aim For Growth.” In fact, this is one of the core values of Dev’s company. All companies aim for growth: growing the company, growing networks, and growing profits. But Dev’s approach is different: employees should genuinely have a passion for growing as a person. For Dev’s business, the aim to grow should be a personal one. It can take many forms, but the goal ultimately should drive an individual to learn and educate themselves through whatever pursuit. For Dev, if recruits don’t feel that this core value is compatible with themselves, then they should take their talents elsewhere.
Personally, I value a candidate’s commitment to learning, and I know many people among many industries who feel the same. Balance in one’s life is important, so of course, I do not expect candidates to dedicate every waking moment to advance their career – I value leisure too. But when you are considering which employee is the better fit in the long run, it is worth considering the commitment that a candidate has to develop themselves as a person. If they are committed to growing personally, it is likely that they are also committed to growing their professional talents.
Sustaining a Culture of Growth
It is important to consider the positive effects associated with hiring candidates who embody growth and education. If you continue to absorb keen leaners into your organization, you will eventually develop what I call a Culture Threshold. Culture Threshold is closely related to core values: it is the point at which the core values become a strong-enough defining characteristic to unite a group of people. So the values of growth and learning can be engrained into the self-sustaining workforce that embraces the positive outcomes of advancing one’s education. If managers put the work into hiring recruits who embrace this value at an early stage, long-term effects will ensure productivity among talent as they embrace the work culture.
Securing Your Return on Investment
Managers are required to be more involved in the labour process in today's industry because they need to be concerned with an employee's Return On Investment (ROI). This is why I think it is essential in the hiring process to consider candidates who demonstrate eagerness towards learning and educating themselves. But the next step to consider is how you will implement organizational education once those candidates join your organization. This is where managers play a large part in growing employees' abilities. One of the first things you should do as a manager when evaluating your training program is to ask whether or not it is helping to attract and retain top talent.
Managers typically view training as nothing more than a checklist to measure employees' knowledge of organizational facts. But I submit to you that this is where some of the work of management must be tested. If you find that your people are struggling to get things done right, chances are your training program isn't comprehensive enough.
When developing a training program, you need to recognize that your training should not rely on fact testing. This is not how people learn best, besides you are not gaining insight into their cognitive abilities. We all learn best through experiential learning, where we can fine-tune our skillsets and build on them. So this aspect of your management strategy should be taken very seriously. If you want your organization to run like a finely tuned machine, you must maintain the machine through regular and consistent training directed at building your employees' education. Master the material yourself first, then immerse your employees in training that will add value to your team and organization.
Developing a culture of growth and learning may sound rather abstract, but it is really about acknowledging the link between performance and values. For one, young talented employees are often keen on learning, and if they find that there is little opportunity for growth, there is a good chance they will look elsewhere to build their careers. So, cultivating a culture that embraces employee interests and recognizes their future is essential.
By creating a culture of growth and by actively engaging in training activities, managers can support talented employees and increase productivity. There are those managers who want a quick fix, and there are those who embrace their role in industrial relationships. Which one are you?
To learn more about how you can best develop an effective strategy to attract and retain talent in your organization, get a copy of my new book, Talent Optimizer. In it, I show readers how they can implement a work culture that embraces the abilities of talented candidates and continues to grow.
My new book, Talent Optimizer, offers insight into how you can attract the "right people" to your company. By applying what I call the Talent Optimizer process, managers can better control the pre-hire and post-hire stage of the employee lifecycle and plan for long-term success. When leaders use this process to put the "right people" in the "right seats," employees spend less energy adapting, engagement levels are higher, accident levels are lower, and overall productivity increases.
In attracting talent, it is critical to think about developing foundational aspects of your organization. This includes developing core values and how your work culture will look. But at a certain point, after establishing a set of foundational goals, you will need to focus on implementing them in more practical terms. So, in this blog, I would like to go over some of the more practical aspects of attracting and interviewing talent
How to Build a Great Job Posting
The internet has opened up nearly endless possibilities. It has allowed people to hunt down bargains, meet their partners, search what school might be the best fit, and of course, find their dream job. Because of the internet, managers are no longer reliant on small networked communities and can pool from a much broader base of talented and driven people. But the same applies the other way too. Talented and driven people are no longer limited by personal contacts and networks: through research and online communities, talented people can find opportunities to work across the globe with organizations that they feel will best suit them. And this is why I am genuinely amazed at how generic some job postings are. It happens so often that I see my clients posting generic and bland job descriptions, hoping that the right person will come along. But there is no real quality information that allows talent to distinguish what makes said organization different than any other. There is no description of values, principles, nor a description of the desired abilities of candidates. This is a big issue.
One point I stress with my clients is that they need to put the work in upfront for developing an attractive and effective job posting. It is important to get specific about the type of person that you are looking for. To develop an effective job description, there are three things that you need to include. These are:
It is very important to use a specific language for a job description. By being clear and deliberate with who you want on your team, you will have a better chance of attracting talented people who know what they want in their work. As such, you will be more efficient in polarizing candidates between who will thrive and who will flounder. So, take the time to build an effective job posting so
that talented people will take it seriously and apply their efforts to secure an interview. Otherwise, there is a better chance that it will get lost in the wind with all of the rest.
Working Towards Understanding a Candidates Sense of Desire
I want to touch on the topic of desire briefly. Desire is the degree to which an employee “wants it”. It is a difficult term to define and difficult to assess. It is unlikely that a candidate will be forthright and tell you that they think the position is below their talents. Financial motivators are a factor to consider, for example. But this is where an effective interview process comes in. By asking questions about previous roles and contributions, it is possible to gain insight into how much he or she wants it. For example, one question that I typically ask is:
Thinking about your last job, what were your most important responsibilities? What aspects did you like best and least?
Such a question forces the interviewee to reveal what they are willing to do to achieve success. A good friend of mine, Dev Basu, uses a similar tactic: he asks candidates to describe the tasks that they do not like doing. The point of this approach is to gauge how the candidate views their skill set and how they feel it compares with the role being offered. Understanding the level of competence and learning capacity of a candidate is important, but by asking these sorts of questions, you can get a sense of how hard they are willing to work. By understanding how much they “want it,” you can then judge whether they are right or not.
The question of desire is essential when hiring for leadership and management positions. As much as I believe that being a manager requires hard work and dedication, it is not for everyone. Too many people seek management positions when they should seek specialist positions. To be clear, those who are suited for specialist positions are not worth any less in the organization and should not feel less important. Some personalities are simply better suited for one role over the other. But if you become a manager, you will need to get results through others, meaning you give up the satisfaction of crossing things off a to-do list, and you give up the thrill of closing a sale yourself. And this is not for everyone. You can weed these people out by structuring a set of interview questions geared towards understanding what a candidate actually desires from their work. The goal of doing this is to figure out whether someone is actually fit to be in a managerial position
Following Up On A Candidates Background
Every part of recruiting is important, including the reference check. I often find that many companies find the reference check to me little more than a formality. But this really should not be the case. Not only should the reference check be understood as a necessity, but it should also be well structured and thought out in order to achieve optimal results.
Checking references serve to provide a full 360-degree view of the candidate. What I often do is inform candidates during the interview that I will be contacting their references and ask questions like: “How would your former manager describe your abilities at this task?” I find this approach allows the candidate to provide more concrete answers that you can make a note of and then follow up with while contacting the reference.
It is important to acknowledge that a phone call with a reference should be done with a structured methodology. Do not wing the conversation hoping that the information that you need will simply emerge: establish a plan. When you do so, you should be focussed on three things:
Interviewing For Success
The job posting, interview and reference check are all, without a doubt, essential components of hiring the “right people” for your company. This is the stage where managers need to be concerned with how they make sure that candidates are the right fit. As such, it needs to be taken seriously, from the online ad to the reference check. By structuring these steps, managers can find better results and become more efficient in the recruitment process.
To learn more about how you can structure your recruitment process to ensure that you really to hire the “right people,” be sure to get a copy of my new book, Talent Optimizer. In it, I take readers through the dos and don’ts of management in the ever-changing commercial landscape.
If you are trying to find the right candidate to occupy a role, you need to establish what qualities top performers in that role typically have. For example, if you want to determine what behaviours you should be looking for among candidates for a sales position, you should collect data on what behaviours and abilities your top performers in sales have. Are they decisive? Extroverted? Patient? By gathering data, you can then work backward and see how candidates may measure up to the ideal qualities of top performers in your organization.
When considering how an employee will fit with your organization, there are four areas that need focus:
Teams must understand the differences amongst themselves because conflicting personalities among individuals can sometimes lead to feelings of intimidation or alienation. When this happens, teams will not produce optimal results. The point is not to vilify one personality and praise another. Instead, managers should accept that there are natural differences in people and that these differences are suited for specific tasks within any organization. Recognizing these differences will allow you to identify blind spots within your organization and work towards better managing the differences among those working for you.
Forget the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule would have you treat others as you would like to be treated, but such a formality is irrelevant to management. In fact, it is ineffective in managing. Instead, managers should focus on how employees need to be treated. We know that employees all have different abilities, all of which are capable of contributing to productivity, so consider how you can harness the strengths of each employee and help drive their long-term success.
Management is not easy. It involves hard work and dedication to every aspect of the employee life-cycle from recruitment to post-hire. And part of that engagement with employees requires understanding
what drives them, how they behave, and how they fit with others. Skills can be learned. But abilities are more complicated than that, and they should be understood better by those who hire and guide employees to success.
To learn more about how you can find the recruit that will benefit you most, and how you can manage teams to meet high-levels of productivity, get a copy of my new book Talent Optimizer. In it, I take you through how you can implement essential recruitment tools that will find you talented professionals who produce the results you need.
A major theme that ties together my new book, Talent Optimizer, is the importance of matching values between candidates, managers, teams, and organizations. I genuinely believe that identifying values is critical to the process of building a high functioning organization. But it is also crucial to consider how the behaviour and abilities of an employee will fit. In the long run, this matters more than the skillsets that employees bring with them.
What I firmly believe is this: if we get great people who believe in a shared set of values, we will always have a place for them as the company grows. So, let’s explore how you can develop a process that will effectively bring such people under your leadership and harness their unique abilities.
The Difference Between Skills and Abilities
For a manager to be successful, you must be aware of an employee’s abilities. Skills typically refer to the outcome of particular training or education, whereas abilities refer more to behavioural and cognitive traits among people. For example, let’s take two basketball players who are nearly identical in physical features (let’s call them Player A and Player B) and compare them. Player A has a higher success of scoring lay-ups over Player B. For judging this data, we might say that Player A is more skilled at scoring lay-ups. But if Player B is a full foot shorter than Player A, then we’re using the wrong metric to judge each member’s added value to the team. In this case, Player A’s height allows him/her to access the net better, thus contributing to their higher percentage of lay-ups. But while Player B may not score as many lay-ups, maybe he/she is an excellent point guard and makes terrific plays that Player A is simply not capable of. Thus, both players’ abilities are very different from the other but equally important to the success of the team. One scores more points while the other makes great plays that allow them to do so.
One of the defining characteristics of abilities is that they are difficult—and, in some cases, impossible—to develop. Such is the case of the shorter basketball player who is unable to score as many lay-up shots as a result of height limitations. But each role in a team or organization requires a particular set of abilities for optimal results. The problem is that managers often neglect the importance of this and fail to hire someone with the right set of abilities for the position. And the reason managers typically fail to find the right candidate has to do with their failure to define the abilities that each given role requires accurately. To do this, managers should focus on determining both the behavioural and cognitive abilities that are required for the position.
The Importance of Behaviour and How to Measure It
As individuals, we each have a set of behavioural attributes: some of us are more adaptable, while others are more decisive or patient. The hiring process should begin by
recognizing that those differences exist, and then understanding how these differences must be integrated for the organization to be successful. I am talking about behavioural attributes because it can have an impact on the success or failure of a potential hire.
Developing a process where you hire an applicant based on what abilities they carry can be a complicated process. We are all susceptible to bias and preferences, so it is common that a manager may hire a new employee based on how they admired certain aspects of that individual. But this subjectivity does not consider what abilities and behaviours would be optimal for the role under review. Such is why we need to consider how we can develop an objective way of assessing whether a recruit has the right abilities for a role. To do this, I walk clients through implementing what is known as the Predictive Index®.
The Predictive Index® behavioural assessment measures four core behavioural drives using a free-choice checklist methodology. Those four core behaviours are:
What is tricky with the interview process is that we are typically forced to make critical judgments based only on observational data. Thus, in trying to determine a set of behaviours and abilities, we are relying solely on what we can observe in the short window we have in the recruitment process. By employing the Predictive Index® methodology, managers can gain insight into what type of work people will find most satisfying over the long run. In doing so, you avoid hiring the wrong people and prevent a potential decline in productivity and results.
As I have studied what great organizations do to get great people, I have identified a few defining features. Where most organizations start with skills when hiring new people, the most successful start with culture fit first. To understand this more completely I share the following model in my new book Talent Optimizer. I call it the head, heart, and briefcase.
The Head, Heart, and Briefcase
• The head consists of the behavioral drives and cognitive abilities the person brings to the job.
• The heart refers to a person’s attitude, values, and beliefs.
• The briefcase is the person’s knowledge, skills, and experience.
When most companies approach hiring, they focus on the briefcase. What skills are needed to do a job, what knowledge or education do we want the person to bring, and what level of experience is required? This briefcase strategy makes sense because these measures are objective and easy to measure. You can screen for the briefcase assets on a resume or job application. In my experience, over 90% of companies focus here when hiring.
Are skills or values more important when hiring?
When you think about any relationship you’ve ever had, be it with friends or romantic interests, over time you determined if you were right for each other. When you consider your relationships that have lasted, there is most often a core set of shared values and beliefs that unite you. When personal relationships don’t work out, it’s usually due to a mismatch of values and beliefs. For example, perhaps you value building relationships and enjoying a vibrant social life, and your significant other prefers to stay home. The chances are good that this mismatch in values will create friction in your relationship.
The challenging part here is that we develop our attitude, values, and beliefs over a lifetime. They are inherently personal and mostly fixed. You should not expect to change someone’s attitude, values, and beliefs. Dev Basu, CEO of Powered by Search, a client of mine, describes values as “factory-installed firmware.” If you want to build a great company, you need to figure out which values and beliefs are important to you, and which you are not willing to tolerate. If you get this part wrong, no amount of team-building or leadership development will solve your team dysfunction.
Next, we have the head. The head consists of two parts: cognitive abilities and behavioral drives. As we will explore later, cognitive ability is widely believed to be the most significant predictor of job performance; thus, it is a critical part of the equation. Cognitive ability is, for the most part, a fixed attribute. We either have it, or we don’t. So, it’s best to determine the requirements for a position and assess your candidates for it.
Behavioral drives predict our needs and thus, the type of work we will find satisfying. Research suggests that these drives develop over the first twenty or so years of our lives. It is believed that these drives form as a result of the human brains ability to recognize patterns and operate many basic tasks on virtual autopilot. As we experience reality, we learn how to deal with similar situations in similar ways so we can focus our attention on other things. Historically this ability to operate on autopilot allowed us to avoid predators while searching for food, today it results in us behaving in predictable, habitual ways. After these drives form, they remain stable. It is important to note that all behavior is a result of a response to stimuli or motivation. Thus, behavioral drives can be adapted. We can do work that we find unsatisfying, temporarily, if we are motivated to do so. However, in the long run, we tend to gravitate toward the activities we find most enjoyable.
This drive to satisfy our needs is why job-slip happens. Someone is hired for a job and initially will do the job precisely as directed. During their probationary period, there is a powerful motivation to keep behaving in a way that’s congruent with the job requirements. Then, once the new hire gets comfortable with the role and the company, they start to do things a bit differently. Little by little, they do activities outside their original scope of work, until one day, they are doing something completely different. People are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. In the long run, everyone finds a way to satisfy their behavioral needs—so it’s best to find out what these needs are, early on, and align them with a role that fits.
Values, Abilities, and Skills Pyramid
Why do Values matter when hiring new employees?
The Values, Abilities, and Skills Pyramid graphically represents the relative size and malleability of the major traits you will encounter from each employee. You can see the bottom of the figure contains the most inflexible traits, while the top has the most malleable traits. Attitude, personal values, and beliefs are at the foundation—they are the most fixed and must align with the shared values of the leaders of the business. If you find people with shared values and beliefs first, chances are you will always have a place for them in your organization as it grows. If you get the values part wrong, it doesn’t matter if the employee has the skills you need or the right mix of behaviors. Incongruent values will cause friction in your business and divide the team. If you have large factions within your business with opposing values, you may have a dysfunctional culture and have difficulty managing some of your major players.
Behaviors and abilities are in the middle of the pyramid, indicating that these traits can be changed temporarily but that one shouldn’t expect people to sustain these changes over the long run. Again, it’s critical to align natural behaviors and abilities with the work that the position requires.
Finally, skills are at the top of the model. Skills are at the top because they are variable. If you get the lower levels of the pyramid right, you can typically train new skills. With the rate of technology change today, the skills that are currently in demand will likely be outdated in just a few years. Thus, skills are the least important part of the equation when building a robust and sustainable culture. Note: I realize that some jobs require specialized skills. I will discuss skills and how to assess proficiency in a future post. For now, recognize that hiring skills without regard to values and beliefs is a recipe for failure.
In my new book Talent Optimizer, I share several examples of how I’ve worked with clients to define a structure recruiting and employee engagement process. Starting with values, then abilities then skills. Defining meaningful core values is often one of the most difficult parts of this process. In my experience I believe this stems for a misunderstanding of what core values are meant to do. I often find that leaders have read books like Good to Great by Jim Collins, or paid an organization like the BDC to do a business planning session, only to end up with vanilla meaningless values. They put these values like integrity, respect and teamwork up on the wall and thing this will fix their culture issue. This is now how core values work.
What is the difference between values and core values?
Core values are the defining characteristics that make your cultural norms different from your competition.
In Talent Optimizer I share the following core values definition:
A set of principles and shared views that you expect everyone in the company to agree to. These principles and shared views should be unique to your culture and they must be meaningful to the employees who abide by them.
A value like integrity on the other hand should be considered a basic expectation for all people in all companies to live by. If it doesn’t define something unique to your people and your culture, you should not consider it a core value.
Are there risks in establishing core values?
In short, the answer is yes. There are real risks. Consider if your leadership team defines your core values and there is one or more person on the leadership team that does not fit with these core values. If this happens, you have two choices, redefine your core values or remove these individuals from the leadership team if they don’t start living up to the core values. Further, if you get this part wrong, and your team sets core values that are not meaningful and real, you run a risk of appearing hypocritical to your employees. If you and your leadership team are not 100% committed to establishing real core values and firing people that do not live up to the core values, then don’t start the process.
Are there organizations that core values do not work in?
In my experience there are two types of organizations. First, there are organizations run as dictatorships, where a senior leader sets the direction and everyone in the organization must follow. The second type of organization establishes a leadership team where decision making is made at multiple levels and the team selflessly pursues the company’s mission or purpose. Core values do not work in dictatorships. If you run your organization from the top and down, core values will probably not work for you. If on the other hand, you believe in establishing a strong leadership team, core values will unite your people to rally around your company’s mission.