Episode 37 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
How to build your culture and attract the right people heading into 2021 (part 1 of 4).
This week on The Growth Whisperers we begin the first of a four-part series where we discuss the important things you need to do heading into 2021. In this first part, we discuss two aspects. How to build your culture and how to build your people.
How to build your culture heading into 2021.
Kevin and Brad talk about what you must do now in order to breathe new life into your Core Values and Core Purpose, how to consider whether your team are culturally prepared for 2021, and the action you must take in order to maintain, or improve your culture in 2021.
How to attract and develop your future leaders in 2021.
Next, they talk about what you must do to improve the quality of your team and build a people magnet machine, a business that attracts the best people in your market like a magnet so you can confidently grow.
Kevin Lawrence 00:13
Hey, welcome to the growth whispers podcast where everything we talk about is relating to building an enduring great company. Not a short term, not a flash in the pan and during the great company and helping the leader and their teams to succeed in this. I’m Kevin Lawrence. I’m here with my co-host today, Brad Giles Brad, how are you doing? On excellent,
Brad Giles 00:33
absolutely fabulous. Where we’re just looking forward to a break over the Christmas holidays. Summer’s here. Life is great. What about you?
Kevin Lawrence 00:46
summer’s here, we’re winter man. And we got our warm winter jackets on. And we’re excited when we see some rays of sun. We were doing great here anyway. And we’re kind of in the homestretch for this crazy year of 2021. Look into 2020. Sorry, looking forward to 2021. And we got a kind of an exciting way we’re going to ramp up or crank up and finish off the year. So why don’t you kind of share with the listeners kind of what we’re gonna do or today in the next few episodes, and then we’ll just jump right in, because we want to get right to it today.
Brad Giles 01:20
Absolutely. So one of our foundational episodes. In fact, the foundational episode was Episode 31, where we spoke about what are the key elements that you need to undertake in order to build an enduring great company. And we outlined eight elements there. And so what we’re doing over the next four weeks is we’re going to dig into each of those elements. And we’re going to explain what is it that you need to do now in the lead up to 2021, to set yourself up to build an enduring great company, but highly timely, around December and January 2021, and everything that’s going on. So today, we’re talking about the strong culture and behaviours that you needed and building a people magnet machine to attract and develop future leaders. So there are two parts within the people aspect that we’re talking about today. So one of the things you need to do to build a strong culture and behaviours, and Buddha people magnet machine.
Kevin Lawrence 02:28
And we’re going deep, we talked about it last time, we’re gonna so let’s just jump right in. So building a strong culture and behaviours that set your company up to win in 2021. And after that, and we get when we build the list, you know, there’s Brad and I love to sit and brainstorm and, you know, kind of crush our brains together on this. And you know, the number one thing to forget is, it’s great to have, you know, culture and behaviours in your company. But you gotta avoid the wallpaper syndrome, wallpaper is where they become words on the wall, but nobody sees them anymore. And you got to breathe life into them again. So number one, we’re going to dig into this. So how do you breathe new life into your values and your purpose? Which are the kind of the roots of your culture? And, you know, Brad, what are your favourite things that you’ve seen of how you bring and breathe life in back into your culture on an ongoing basis, Collins found in his research, that companies that had enduring great cultures continued almost on a quarterly basis to do something to breathe life in them and to keep them top of mind again, versus been wallpaper.
Brad Giles 03:37
Absolutely. So every your faves every single quarter, I think it’s important to have a system. So every single quarter with every team that I work with, certainly, what we do is we ask, what do we need to do in the next 90 days to bring our values and our purpose and to a degree our B hag to life? Why is that important? Because, you know, at any point, whenever someone says, look, we do this every quarter, why do we need to do that? And I say, Well, number one, it’s like brushing your teeth, right? It’s a system, you’ve got to do it prevent provides long term benefits. Okay, but then number two, I say, so why don’t we grab any employee out there, and we’ll ask how deeply they understand the values and the purpose will back you just so you just got something on my mind.
Kevin Lawrence 04:22
I’m picturing the metaphor of the teeth. It’s like if you don’t keep brushing your teeth and you’re supposed to floss, I’m not really great at that. If you don’t keep brushing your teeth, plaque builds up on your teeth. And plaque is not healthy for your system, and then your body starts to fight the plaque-like bacteria. So you don’t want a plaque on your culture. Because if you don’t keep maintaining your teeth and your gum plaque builds up just like if you don’t maintain your culture. plaque builds up in a culture plaque is not your friend.
Brad Giles 05:01
And so using that metaphor, that’s point one, like, we gotta, we’ve got to think about core values. Because, again, what if you didn’t do it for 3,6,9 months, suddenly people forget about it, and it becomes the wallpaper that you mentioned. Like it’s completely useless. And every single time when we kind of challenge that we go out into the broader organization, we don’t even need to go to frontline workers, right, we can go to the main management team, and start to ask a few interesting questions about the values or the purpose, you know, and they don’t know. They don’t know. And they’re like, Oh, I don’t? I’m not sure. So, you know, as much as you think that everybody knows, people don’t know. And it’s just this continual reminder from the leadership, and bringing it to life using our system.
Kevin Lawrence 05:52
Find ways. Yeah. And another test that we do is when we ask people to brag about other people, or wins or brag, that’s part of what we do on a quarterly basis, we ask them to link it to a core value. In companies that have strong core values, the core values, words or phrases show up everywhere. Yeah. And the ones where it’s weakening, I can almost get a sense of how tight it is, by the words in the surveys, when they’re prompted for those words. So we got number one, which is to really breathe life into it on a regular basis, look at you can do core values, t-shirts, you can do core values, awards, you can make sure it’s part of your appraisal process. When we do 360. We got a, you know, CEO, we’re doing we’re working with right now. And he wants a 360. We’re evaluating him on his own core values. There’s, there are 100 different ways and we could probably come up with a little, you know, ebook on 100 ways to reinforce your core values.
Brad Giles 06:55
Oh, sorry, what’s number two?
Kevin Lawrence 06:56
Yeah, it’s awesome. So it’s evaluating your team on your values, and only promote those that really, really fit very well. You know, the biggest mistakes we make with people are one because they don’t have competence. And two, because they don’t have a culture. Yeah. So making sure you don’t forget to look for the cultural fit. Because promoting someone who doesn’t fit your culture is equivalent to say your culture doesn’t matter. And is just BS. Yeah. So anytime you promote someone who doesn’t permit doesn’t fit it? Well. You’re saying Yeah, culture, it ain’t real.
Brad Giles 07:36
So look at your core values. Let’s say you’ve got five core values, and then say, okay, so if we’re going to promote Rob, or if we’re looking at, at who we’re at, how does Rob align with our first core value, out of 10, and our second core value out of 10, and our third, and so forth. So let’s try to get some metrics around that some, you know, I realized there to a degree, you know, they’re not, they’re not as, as good as we would like, but they’re better than nothing. So looking like if one of your values is all one team, how closely does that person align with that?
Kevin Lawrence 08:16
Yes, and we, again, when we do 360’s, you know, for people to see if the core values are right, and they’re truly the core values, you know, the key leaders should all be at an average of eight and a half out of 10, or greater on them. If people are human, they’re not perfect all the time. But generally, most of the time, at least, you know, in the range. And when you evaluate other people, so when you’re promoting, they should already be in an eight and a half out of 10 range. The key is, is to really, truly check-in. And don’t forget to look at that. Now. The piece that we do with clients and most is that we do a talent review every quarter for most clients, where we evaluate the team and where they’re at. And we’re looking at core values fit, we’re looking at performance and other factors so that we just keep on top of our best people helping them to grow and thrive. And the ones that aren’t on track trying to help them get on the bus, or get on the right seat in the bus. Or maybe they are ready to get off at the next bus stop, I don’t know.
Brad Giles 09:15
But understanding just to close that out, understanding how your team align with your values is really important hidden into 2021. With all the challenges that absolutely.
Kevin Lawrence 09:28
Now one of the clients we work with in the US we did their annual power planning a couple of weeks ago they are their business faded by 30 or 40% with COVID, and then they’re up close to close to I think 50 or 60%. So they pretty well doubled their business based on the COVID levels. But they have an amazing cultural fit with almost all their people a high percentage of high performers and they’re doing incredibly well and people are enjoying it. Again, they’re not perfect, but a lot of the right people both culturally and competence wise It makes a big difference. So let’s, let’s go to level three. And this is all, maybe not the most positive part. And I called it weeding the garden. Hmm, you know, you get these people and I was on a call today with the CEO, and there’s a person just ain’t working, it ain’t gonna work, tough call. And what they know is that they gotta, they got to kind of weed the garden. And this person’s got to go. And, you know, we don’t one of the criteria for leaders is culture fit. But also, from a leadership perspective being what Collins calls a level five leader, a truly humble and driven individual who wants to do the best for the organization. This person ate that. So it’s they’ve tried, they’ve given this person, multiple chances. And unfortunately, you know, the person, you know, they’re going to find a new job sometime in a new year. And that’s, it’s a normal scenario, but, but a lot of people get stuck on this, and they won’t pull the weeds. And I don’t want to call people weeds, I just wanna say, as people who aren’t a fit and aren’t going to be a fit and aren’t going to thrive, you got to help them make the choice sometimes.
Brad Giles 11:10
And, and sometimes that just means taking the first step people can just face that they can just fester in these roles, and they’re sitting there, nothing’s being done about it. Everyone knows they’re never going to thrive. It could be your top-performing your bottom 10% of the people that you’ve got. Now, I don’t want to be arbitrary, but it’s not the top 20%. Right. But who were the people, as you looked 2021 that it just never ever going to thrive in your organization? In fact, they could be toxic? Well, even if you don’t if even if we don’t say you’ve got to exit them within a month. What about if he said within January 2021, you’ve got us, you’ve got to make some kind of meaningful action with them.
Kevin Lawrence 12:00
Yes. So for example, I got a letter over the weekend from a CEO forwarded to me on one of his we called toxic as a high performing person who doesn’t fit the culture and in my book, your oxygen mask, that’s how I categorize their April a performance, but toxic culture. And he got a letter of resignation. Now, what we did over the last few months is we let this person know this behaviour is not okay. And if you want to stay, it’s got to change. So the point is they made it crystal clear the CEO did to this person who was a high performer been there a long time, but they couldn’t get on culture. And then finally the person made their own choice, which is wonderful. Even though the CEO said it still heard a little bit, but he was relieved because the person is going to be happier somewhere else. So that’s doing your job and letting them know that it’s not okay if they want to stay.
Brad Giles 12:51
Yeah. So let’s review that. So moving into 2021, three key things, you’ve got to breathe life into your values and purpose. So what can you do to reignite your values and purpose to let more people understand it? Number two, evaluate your team on the values and ensure that you’re only promoting or who are the people that are potentially going to be promoted? And how do they align with your values? And then number three is Givens it with the garden. So, who were the people who are never going to thrive or who were toxic, that is that you need to take action on and maybe take action before the end of January. So Let’s now move on to the second part of the people section, which is a people magnet machine. Again, this was from Episode 31, how to build an enduring great business. And we said one of the components was you got to build a people magnet machine to attract and develop our future leaders. So what’s the first one that we’ve got here, Kevin?
Kevin Lawrence 13:59
Yes, and I want to give a call out and a shout out to Chris Marceau from top grading is the president of top grading and we had him on a call with a bunch of our CEOs this morning and this was his when we talked about attracting great talent is it really got to have a strategy for your employer brand to make it feel like a great place to work and have people really see it as the top of their list because you’re understood to be an amazing company. So it’s critical and then one thing that he had mentioned this morning again thanks to Chris he’s an awesome guy and we got our top grading two-day training coming up and that’s why we had him talking to our CEOs because of we deep believer in supporter methodology. And what he talked about though is that you know, even things like the great places to work awards now. You can almost you can there are creative ways to get that award. Let’s just say, you know, and you know, there are lots of creative ways to get that award but you still have to be good You may not be great to be, but you still have to be good to get it. And there are consultants that can help you to win the award and all kinds of stuff, which is not something that we’re endorsing. But he says that for high performers, they often look for that it’s almost like a badge of quality if not all badges are perfect measures. But they’re indications that someone cares enough to try to be a grip and some of the companies that are absolutely outstanding, and some are just good markers. But the point of it is, is that really, how do you position yourself so that people can see, hey, when you come to work here, it’s a good thing?
Brad Giles 15:40
Well, I’ve got a client, and they have one great place to work for the past 10 years consecutively. Not many companies have done that. Shout out to Tristan. You know, they use it as a key part of their employee brand, attracting the right people. And they promote it through universities, and they promote it in advertising and marketing and everywhere. It’s so so what we’re really saying here is thinking about how can you become a better place to work? You might not know this, I used to own an employee job board. Okay, so job adverts would be placed on the business that I had, it was a bit like monster.com, I guess you’d say or seek in Australia. And there would be two adverts that looked almost identical. One would get one or 200 applicants, the other would get five or seven. And they were written almost exactly the same. And the difference was the underlying employer brand. So that’s an extreme example, maybe, but what can you do looking into 2021 to improve your employer brand?
Kevin Lawrence 16:56
Yeah, and thinking like a marketer, and also thinking almost like, you know, a great restaurant, what about customer service, thinking about that from a perspective of your employees and making it a great place? You know, it takes a little bit extra energy and gives you a huge reward, because then also, it makes it easier for your existing team to recruit their best friends, their best colleagues, you know, their best associates. Awesome. So the second one is really we need dedicated time to proactively recruit, like the best people are already employed, gainfully employed, and their companies aren’t planning on letting them go anytime soon. And unfortunately, is that when it comes time to hire, we’re usually short, we don’t have good people. And we scramble, you know, and they call it you know, and Chris is talking about skin this morning was building your virtual batch. It’s always having people lined up that you know, are high-quality candidates, and proactively recruiting before you need it. So you’ve got some options when it comes up and to recruit amazing people takes time even one guy we recruited one client, it took almost three years to recruit him away from where he was and made a list of the highest performers in the industry. And the CEO started doing his coffee dates, as he would call it, no dates, but having coffee with people, it took three years to get the deal to get this guy. Now, he was in sales, he had one of the best customer lists in the industry. So when he came over millions of dollars of profit followed him. Yeah, because they wanted to work with him. And my client managed to get a deal to bring the guy across. But that was three years of proactive recruitment to get this Rockstar hired away. And, and most executives don’t and CEOs don’t spend the time recruiting, they’re so busy doing their day job. You know, they don’t spend the time to build the team or build the army and I get that it’s hard. I have a solution. We’re gonna roll out with our clients. I might not say it here. But we have a solution for our clients that we’re going to roll out to help us that I had the Epiphany about today, but it’s an area where many people lacking a week for HR, and then HR is going to run job ads. That is probably the hardest way to hire great people on the planet. Maybe you could stand upfront and handle $20 bills,
Brad Giles 19:21
right and say, Oh, don’t apply for a job. Ad’s think that because they always approached so thinking that you’re going to get great people through a job aid is it’s just worshipping the wrong ideals. It’s never going to work that way. You know, I worked with
Kevin Lawrence 19:40
the word never rarely and hard. Yes.
Brad Giles 19:45
You making your life incredibly hard for no good reason. Why do you do this to yourself when you can be proactive rather than reactive? You know, I worked with a new home builder constructing new homes, and I walked into the CEOs office He very proudly showed me his box of business cards. And he said I’ve got the business card of every salesperson in the city. In terms of new homes, I know them all. I’ve ranked them all. And I know exactly where they are. And he was proud because he knew I understand the value of that and the value of that ranking system. And he’s the CEO. He’s not the head of HR. Yes. So what we’re really saying here, then is, if we’re going to look into 21, what can you do to begin to build this virtual bench? What are the maybe the one or two most high impact roles in your whole organization? Could be sales, could be engineering, it could be operations, marketing, could be anything, but what are the roles that are going to have the greatest impact? And then who are the other people in the industry that are the greatest and maybe you can start to have five or 10 conversations? So what have you booked in five, or 10 Coffee meetings in January, to begin to talk to those people? And you don’t need to say, Oh, Hi, Kevin, I’ve got a job for you. What you could say is, look, we’re looking for awesome people. And I just keep hearing amazing things about you, Kevin, like I don’t really hear good things about you, Kevin, I’m just gonna cry that this is just roleplay.
Kevin Lawrence 21:29
And Chris shared an amazing stat today. They said in research this, again, this is the president of top grading. And he said in the research they’ve done, or they found that if you look at the pool of candidates who could be amazing or could be qualified for the job, you’re looking at 80% of them will entertain a conversation.
Brad Giles 21:50
Kevin Lawrence 21:51
So 80% of people will take the call or have a conversation. That doesn’t mean they’re going to move, but they’re open to it. But that takes proactive energy. And most organizations treat recruitment like it’s an administrative task, versus a strategic driver.
Brad Giles 22:12
So let’s move on to number three, building a people magnet machine to attract and develop future leaders. Number three is to invest in the growth of your existing good and great people. So what are we really saying here in the context of 21, 2021, as we go into this challenging environment, Kevin, what do you think we’re really trying to say here,
Kevin Lawrence 22:34
you know, you’ve got some great people on your team, don’t forget to grow and develop them. They are the, you know, they’re like your flagship products, they’re your best people that can showcase what’s possible at the company. And if you continue to invest in your people and care about them in their own growth and development, they’ll get better. And you’ll showcase you as a company who invest in your people, which will make them proud to tell their friends and to tell other people all the great, so first of all, the talent gets a better period, but to those types of people that feel valued and cared for, or more likely to bring over the best people, because they can be confident that the best people will be treated well.
Brad Giles 23:15
And so what could you do? Thinking about January, thinking about maybe even the first quarter Who were your best people who are the high impact people that your competitors would love to get ahold of, to get them to plant their roots a little bit deeper into your organization. And it’s not just about saying, hey, I want to let you know that you’re doing a good job. It could be just building that relationship, taking them out for a coffee or having a meeting with them or getting them to participate in an exciting new project or something. But, but if you look at maybe the top 10 or 20% of people in your organization, what can you do to invest in the time, money, resources, something like that? So yep, that’s an awesome business.
Kevin Lawrence 24:05
So under the people magnet machine, number one brand strategy, what can you do to improve your employer brand and put your marketing hat on to make it look, feel and help to attract people to see what a great place you are to? You got to have dedicated, dedicated time to recruit. It is a strategic driver, not an administrative task. And if you rely on recruiters not always expensive, it’s harder to get the best talent. And then three invest into growing your people as we’ve talked about, and how do you help them to grow and shine and leverage what you have. And again, they would be your best spokespeople. In some cases, sometimes your best recruiters.
Brad Giles 24:46
Awesome. So this is the first of our four-part series on building a great, great enduring company going into 2021 and what you’ve got to do right now. So in the meantime, we hope you enjoy the break that’s coming up and we look forward to speaking to you again in about a week. Again, as always, this has been the growth whispers podcast. Thanks for listening. I’m Brad Giles joined as always by my co-host, Kevin Lawrence for myself, you can find me at evolution partners.com.au and for Kevin, you can find it Lawrence and co.com. We hope you have a great week.