On this episode Josh speaks with Beth Miller from Executive Velocity. They discuss some dos and don’t with regarding to hiring new employees.

With over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive coach, and talent advisor Beth works with leaders who know that an organization’s success requires the right people, in the right seat, at the right time.

Through workshops, published articles, speaking engagements and her book Are You Talent Obsessed?, she shares her insights on hiring the best people, leading and developing them to their full potential, and creating succession plans for sustained growth in the future. As an entrepreneur, a coach, and Vistage Chair Emeritus she has many stories of both success and failure and the lessons learned.

In today’s episode you will learn about:

  • The importance of a structured hiring process and the use of assessments to decrease bias in the hiring process
  • Behavioral interviewing to match company values with the applicant
  • Uncovering Emotional Intelligence before you make a hiring decision
  • How to attract applicants with a job posting
  • Effective onboarding of new employees


Narrator:             Welcome to “Cracking the Cash Flow Code”, where you’ll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You’ll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when an emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you’ll have a sale ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want in the way you want.

In Cracking the Cash Flow code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.

Josh:                      Hey, how are you? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. My guest today is Beth Miller. She’s the author of Are you talent obsessed. She’s a CEO of a company called Executive Velocity. What she does is she specializes in helping people hire well.

In my opinion, even though we’re in the middle of that Coronavirus as we’re recording this today. Hiring still is a big deal and will likely become a bigger deal when we come out of it. Because I’m afraid we’re probably going to lose a whole bunch of our employees. We’ve been shut down. They found someplace else to go. Instead of me yammering on, let me bring Beth on and we’ll start the conversation.

Hey, Beth, how are you today?

Beth:                     I’m doing great, Josh. Thanks so much for inviting me today.

Josh:                      Oh, it’s my pleasure. Here’s how I want to start, you gave me a bunch of things that we could talk about. One of them I found absolutely fascinating so we need to start there. How to attract applicants with a job posting? I definitely have my opinion about it. I’m really anxious to hear yours.

Beth:                     Well, my opinion is first. Don’t start with a job description. I find a lot of companies that I work with are mostly small to midsized companies. They may have an HR department or they may outsource that. What they generally do is they take the job description and cut and paste onto a job board or a search engine of some sort. That is failure. What you need to be thinking about is that you’re selling your company.

You’re selling the opportunity to work for your company. What a job posting should be is marketing. It’s getting the person excited about your company, the impact that this position has on the company’s success and what that position needs for success. One of the things that I talk about, my training is that you need to connect with the reader. The statement would be, you are exuberant with customers versus exuberance is required, whatever. It’s connecting with the individual.

Josh:                      This fits in with job descriptions being terrible. What most people do is a job description is actually a laundry list of things they want their people to do. It’s not success factors. When you really look at somebody whose work, you’re only going to look at three to five things that they have to do to be successful in a job. There’s more than that.

There’s no way for the person who’s doing the job to be able to know what to focus on. My belief is there are two things that need to be in this job posting. One is, what are the success factors for the job? Two, what are the values of the company or how does this job fit into the company’s values?

Beth:                     The values are really important. I totally agree with you, Josh. That’s something that even once you get candidates into the pipeline, you need to be really clear about what kind of behavioral questions you’re asking that will get you to understand if their values align with yours.

Josh:                      When you say behavioral questions, what do you mean by that, Beth?

Beth:                     Those are questions that generally aren’t questions. They generally start with tell me about a time, share an experience with me. What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to understand how they behaved in the past to a specific situation. For instance, how did you handle a change that you had no control over?

Josh:                      That’s a good one. I would change that a little bit just because I don’t like to ask “how do you” questions because that sort of narrows down. I said, “Tell me a story about a time.” The reason I like that is, what I’m looking for when I’m hiring somebody, I want to hear the stories they have because the stories are going to reveal how well they’re going to fit into my values.

Beth:                     They’ll also reveal things like their emotional intelligence, are they able to admit to mistakes and learn from those mistakes? Are they able to work in a team environment and support others?

Josh:                      We use a thing called the “will do, can do” fit factor method of hiring from Robert Half, an associate. He wrote this book probably 40 years ago. I used it my vending company very successfully. Before we started using this system, we had a 35% success rate with hiring. After we installed it, it went to 85%. It was a process. It didn’t happen overnight obviously.

What we learned is and when we’re asking questions, especially around values for we call fit factors. Will the person fit into the company is, what we want to do is make sure we’re asking open ended questions as we speak to a particular value? Let me give you an example, one of my favorite core value which is personal responsibility.

I would always ask someone, “Tell me about a time when something at your last job didn’t go so well.” What I’m asking for is, I want to hear if they say, “I could have done something differently, or was there a fault?” If I heard it was their fault, they are immediately eliminated from consideration for the job. They weren’t being personally responsible. To get somebody to do that would be really difficult in my world.

Beth:                     Totally. You can’t change attitude. You can teach skills, but you can’t change attitude.

Josh:                      Well, I had a company, 90 employees and maybe two or three times we actually got somebody to change and understand why a value is important to start exhibiting it. That was out of a couple hundred people that roll through the company over those 20 years.

Beth:                     It’s hard spending a lot of time trying to shift somebody’s values. Whereas at the beginning, you’re screening for those values. Your energy isn’t being moved in a direction that isn’t really providing kind of the growth and value, especially as a leader, a CEO.

Josh:                      Yes. What happens there is you’re just working too hard. That’s how you get brilliant jerks in your company.

Beth:                     Right, exactly.

Josh:                      Most companies do this which I think is a mistake is that most companies hire for technical skills, not for the activities they need to do or the values that they exhibit.

Beth:                     The emotional intelligence that is highly correlated to success. The good thing about emotional intelligence though is you can improve it. It’s not like IQ.

Josh:                      Absolutely. The challenge comes in. Does the business owner have emotional intelligence themselves? Do they really care? If you’re not getting the right type of person in your company, to me, it makes sense you might want to look in the mirror.

Beth:                     Then you know it cascades down. I’m often called in to train those frontline managers and middle managers on how to hire because they’ve never been taught how to have a behavioral interview or how to be consistent on the question. There’s like the processes that I find are nonexistent. There’s a process maybe over in finance, and there might be one over on customer service, but there’s no consistency across the organization. My belief is those value questions should be asked for every individual that is coming in to apply for a position.

Josh:                      Well, I tell people when we’re putting together— we have a form for this. Will do, can do fit factor which again, like everything we do, pretty simple. What we do is we say, “Okay, here are your values.” They are the same on every single hiring form we use in the company. We don’t care who it is, need to have these conversations about the values.

Before you even have the conversation you go through and make sure that they can do the job from a technical point of view. Once you get that out of the way, leave it out of the way. In fact, if you have somebody who’s a nine or a 10, on the can do factors and a five or six versus someone who’s a seven on the technical and a nine on the values, you need to be hiring somebody with less skill, but a better fit for your company.

Beth:                     Right and train and develop.

Josh:                      Right. You do need to have some basic skills that come in there. I keep hearing especially from the internet businesses. They’re all looking for 100% A players on their team.

Beth:                     Yeah, guess what, it’s probably 1% or 2% that are A players. What you want to get is you want to get the B players that fit your values and make them A players.

Josh:                      That’s true. The other thing I’ve learned is that I’m not really convinced I want to love A players or my company. I want some.

Beth:                     Yes, because otherwise there’s going to be a lot of competition.

Josh:                      If your company is full of A players, you’ve created havoc. I used to be in a group called Young Presidents organization a zillion years ago. What we learned, we had this meeting once at the Patriots facility. They had their vice president player personnel come out and talk to us. It was a really interesting thing. He said, like, “We put people in three buckets. The people will never lose no matter what.”

At that point, Drew Brees was the quarterback. He said, “That’s Drew Brees and I forgot who the defensive player was.” Then there’s the next eight or nine or 10 people on our team, who we don’t want to lose, if at all possible, we go to a point where you have to say goodbye. Then there’s everybody else and while the everybody else comes and goes because I really sort of interchangeable, it’s how well we treat them here that makes them either great members of our team or terrible members of our team. I’ve used that model in companies ever since because it seems to make a lot of sense to me.

Beth:                     It does. It kind of lends itself to the position of that super salesperson who has been really successful elsewhere, but when he or she gets into your organization, they don’t fit those values. They’re great outside because that’s their carrot. I need to get that sale, but then when they come back into the organization, they’re just horrible to the people internally.

Josh:                      Where you see brilliant jerks office and technical jobs like programmers, or on sales positions. You rarely see him anyplace else in the company just because nobody tries to hire a brilliant jerk for other jobs. Now, I have had brilliant jerks who are general managers for me also. That’s another area where it can happen.

Long story, I don’t want to get into it now because it’ll just bore everybody. This is something else, one of the things and I’m going off topic a little bit here. I am not a big fan of personal sales commissions. The reason is like anything in any company, nothing happens in a vacuum by itself. I may have a great salesperson, but that great salesperson is not going to be a great salesperson unless there’s a great support team behind them.

Beth:                     Do you do like team comps?

Josh:                      Well, you can. I tend to like to do company comps, the company is on a bonus plan and how well the company does is how well all the individuals in the company do. The truth is, when I evaluate the success or non success of a salesperson is I want to be looking at the activities that they’re doing. Are they doing the right activities in the right way? Are they only calling on customers?

Do they have a methodology or a sales system that we use? Are they following our sales system? Are they doing the things that we know will get us the right customers? Are they evaluating the customers are going to be cold customers or bad customers? That’s all part of the five, one of the five success factors for a particular job. I actually think individual sales commissions are just a way for sales managers to be lazy.

Beth:                     I’ve never heard that perspective, but I can understand it.

Josh:                      Well, think about this for a second. If somebody is on a commission, and they’re getting big numbers. The Sales Manager doesn’t have to do anything about making the salesmen better. They just say I’ve got this superstar salesperson over here. I need to leave them alone and everybody needs to get out of their way.

If instead I’ve got success factors for a sales position, and yes, my superstar sales person’s 90% on three and 70% on two which would make him a superstar most businesses, there’s still room for improvement. There’s still room for growth. There’s still room for bringing them into other processes. Are they a member of the innovation team? Too often I see the innovation people were over someplace doing their thing.

The salespeople were over here doing their thing and they never talk to each other. In my life insurance business, that’s what I did after I sold my food service company. That’s a world where people are known for being Lone Ranger’s and working by themselves, but they don’t. You don’t realize this, but if a life insurance person is selling a very complicated product, they’re using the life insurance company’s advanced marketing team to support that sale.

In other words, this advanced marketing team or the lawyers who say, “Here’s how legally make these strategies work, so you’re not getting yourself in trouble.” That’s sort of one of the issues there. Beth, we have a couple more minutes. What I’d like to do is kind of pivot for a second and talk about the effective on boarding of new employees. I’m going to bet you have some thoughts about that.

Beth:                     Yeah, I do. First of all, on boarding to me starts as soon as the individual accepts the offer. It’s not the first day that they walk in. That’s kind of number one rule. Number two, is that it needs to be custom to that person. Now, that doesn’t mean like specifically, if you’ve got a customer service person coming on, they need all of the ins and outs of the customer service platform, for instance.

It’s more about the person and the person’s personality. You need to, when you’re interviewing them, to really get to understand the person. What may be some of the hobbies? What do they learned through those hobbies? Then when they get there that first day, have something that connects with them. It could be, for instance, the Patriots, somebody who’s a big fan. I’m from Boston, by the way.

You have some sort of Patriots memorabilia waiting for them on their desk, that kind of thing. Then I love having Sherpas or Mentors that are assigned to new employees. There’s somebody that they know other than the manager that they can go to, to understand kind of the ins and outs, the unspoken rules of the organization. Then from a process perspective, on boarding is not just a week.

It’s a 90, 180 day process. The manager needs to really understand what are those metrics and benchmarks that the person needs to be meeting to understand that yeah, they are making progress and we have made the right decision on this individual.

Josh:                      I’m going to bet that you’re in favor of having an on boarding system in place. There’s consistency across the board when new people are added to our company.

Beth:                     Yes, that can be in different formats. For instance, some of the smaller companies I will work with, they just have an Excel spreadsheet that they make sure that there are certain things that happen at certain times after the individual comes on board.

Josh:                      I actually think bullet points are always the best for doing systems. Anything in the paragraph, nobody reads it.

Beth:                     No. Exactly. I’m very interested in people’s on boarding systems and processes. There’s some that have been very creative. Zappos is a great example where they have welcome videos and people are really engaged very quickly into the organization.

Josh:                      Yeah, I think Zappos does an incredible job. The thing I love about Zappos is they will pay you, I think it’s worth 5,000 dollars to go away.

Beth:                     Yes, exactly. I love that.

Josh: I have to end here, but I just want to tell you my little favorite thing about this. When I found out Amazon bought Zappos, I was absolutely convinced that they were going to destroy Zappos culture.

Beth:                     I think a lot of people did.

Josh:                      As it turns out, it’s been the other way around. Amazon has now adopted the pay you a bunch of money to go away after a couple of months and see who takes it.

Beth:                     I did not know that, interesting.

Josh:                      Yeah, which I found really fascinating. Beth, unfortunately, we are out of time. 23 minutes goes by fast. I’m going to bet that there are lots of people who are listening to this episode today who are going to be interested or watching this on Facebook Live or on YouTube Live. I hope those of you who are watching are paying attention. I’m going to bet that some of these folks are going to want to get in touch with you. How would they do that?

Beth:                     Well, a couple ways. I’m on LinkedIn Beth Armknecht Miller like arm connected to your shoulder, then you can also reach me on my website, which is executive-velocity.com. I do have an offer out right now during this challenging time. I’m offering a 30 minute complimentary coaching sessions to business owners and leaders who are getting stuck so they can find that on my website.

Josh:                      That sounds great. I also have a request and my request is if you’re watching this on Facebook or watching on YouTube, or you’re listening to the podcast episode sometime this summer when it actually comes out. I would really appreciate if you would go to wherever you listen to podcasts, and give this show an honest rating and review. Those ratings and those reviews are really important.

It helps people find us on all the different listening sites. We’re on Stitcher, and iTunes and Spotify and anyplace else that you might listen to your podcast episode. After you listen, go over and give us a rating reviewing, I would really appreciate it. Hey, this is Josh Patrick. We’re with Beth Miller. You are at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:             You’ve been listening to the “Cracking the Cash Flow Code” where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?”

If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102. Or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co. Or you can send Josh an email at jpatrick@stage2solution.com. Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.

Topics: beth miller, hiring new employees, hr, keeping great employees, sustainable business podcast, Sustainable Business, effective onboarding, structured hiring process, finding great employees

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