This week on The Growth Whisperers we’re talking about the very first thing you’ve got to do in order to build a great business, to get the right people on the bus.
Jim Collins said first who, then what. Before you consider what to do with your business, you must first have the right people in place.
It sounds really simple, but there is a lot of thinking and work that goes into building an outstanding team of the right people that are going in the same direction as you, in your business. Kevin and Brad discuss the 6 important things you must do to get the right people on the bus.
Getting the right people on the bus
Episode 42 – 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.
Brad Giles 00:12
Hi, welcome to the growth whispers where everything that we talked about is building enduring great companies, companies that you’re proud of that last for a long, long time. As always, today I’m joined by my co-host, Kevin Lawrence. My name is Brad Giles. How are you doing today, Kevin?
Kevin Lawrence 00:33
You know, Brad, I’m doing great. You know, it’s wonderful, beautiful sunny day today. So one of the most beautiful sunrises ever, for my place here. I can see over there on the to mine left, you know, there are mountain peaks in this bright red, burning red sunrise this morning. It was awesome. Because another friend of mine lives down closer to the beach. And we talked we’re on a regular basis, he sent me a picture of of the sunrise, he was down on the beach. And I sent him one back from up here. And they were insane. I’m not a photographer. But it was so damn good that I had to send a picture to my kids. And this this this buddy of mine down the street. It was Yeah, it’s awesome. Beautiful day. It feels like we’re it’s like June, like the year has just flown by. It seems to have been so busy the last couple weeks.
Brad Giles 01:29
We are saying here. It’s better to be looking at it than looking for it in relation to being too busy. We’d rather be a bit too busy, then you have no work at all. So yeah, count one’s blessings, I guess is my reaction to that to a degree? Absolutely. Yeah. So what do we got on today?
Kevin Lawrence 01:53
Yeah, well, I thought we wouldn’t know I took this amazing course on basket weaving. So I thought we would dig in into this new basket weaving technique. It’s quite fascinating. And we got a 14-hour video and a seven-hour talk that we were going to cover off on today’s show. So I was thinking, you know, Kevin and Brad’s basket weaving adventure is that that’s what I was thinking today. That’s so good.
Brad Giles 02:20
No, I’ll let you run with that. You keep going and we’ll see where you go with that. Because that’s, you know, I know nothing about basket weaving at all.
Kevin Lawrence 02:30
Well, neither do I. I don’t know anything. Well, baskets, or weaving or basket weaving? No. So today, we’re talking about one of our favorite topics, and it’s about getting the right people on the bus. Yeah, we love that metaphor. You know, Jim Collins kind of coined that phrase, but it’s how do you as you’re building a company, get the right people on? And then ideally, get them behaving in the right ways? Which is easier when you get the right people, and then what do you do when it doesn’t work? And so we’ve got lots of experience. And it was interesting, I was talking with a CEO of a company this week, kind of a friend of a friend. And he was calling with a challenge he had, and he was talking about his highest performing people and his lowest-performing people, and he wanted some help with coaching these people, me or our team does that stuff. And you know, and we can do that. And I said to him, but you need to know, those bottom performers, the ROI you’re going to get is probably about 3.2 cents per $1,000 spent. And normally, it was a selection problem, not a management problem, not a coaching problem, not an anything else problem, you probably just chose the wrong people and you’re probably gonna see the greatest because he was asking about, we’re on how to get the ROI on coaching, I said, Your biggest ROI is probably going to come from your top 20% and them getting better. Yeah. And is that for him, though? He wants his ROI is not having to deal with the bottom 20. So the point of it being is that you know, in that situation, what we’ll do is we’ll help them we’ll put a program together to help all of those people. But now I wanted to set the expectations right. And I said to him, at some point, we should have a conversation about your selection process, versus you know, your training, development and coaching. So and that’s kind of what we’re digging into today. So let’s say you had 20 great leaders, and ain’t really working the way you want. And you’re like this other CEO has, how do you get the right people on and get them doing the right things? And then how do you deal with the ones that don’t? So that’s what we’re gonna dig into really controversial for some people because some people like to have this environment where everyone is welcome and everyone’s okay. And some people are cutthroat, which we’re not. We want to find that happy medium. You can build a great team. But you usually have to make a few hard decisions. Anyway, we’re both very passionate. So Brad a little bit kind of get your thoughts upfront on, you know, what is it? What does it really mean to get the right people on the bus in your mind?
Brad Giles 05:19
I guess we’d begin by saying that this is for an existing company, okay. So this is, you’ve had an epiphany, or you’ve had a, you’ve had a thought that you know, what I want to make this business better, I want to build a great business are a great engineering business, or you’ve thought to yourself, I want to improve, okay, so you don’t go straight to the strategy, you don’t go straight to the execution, you don’t go to some of these other areas, necessarily, because all of those things will be, will be undermined, or will have a much lower chance of success if you don’t have the right people. So if you’ve got a leadership team, let’s say of seven people, and three of those people are toxic, or they’re, they’re not effective, are they just never going to succeed in your environment at your revenue level? Well, you’ve got to get rid of them, or you’ve got to make substantial changes to ensure that you’ve got the right people who can do that. And only then can you move forward. So for me, it’s, it’s something that I see so often, and why I’m pretty passionate about today’s episode because I start working with an organization and business. And they’ve been running. I mean, one of the businesses I think of, they’ve been running for 100 years, you know, but many of them are, you know, well-established businesses and they want to make a good and positive change. And, so what happens is, I meet with the existing leadership team, and, you know, they’re, they’re probably okay, all good. And sometimes, by the time we get a year through, you know, there’s been a few people who’ve left the business or who aren’t in the leadership team anymore. And that’s maybe because I’m really pushing for excellence through the work that we’re doing. And they really just want a job, they’re passionate about fishing, they’re passionate about something else. But we’re really focusing on building a great business. So then you’ve got other people who they can go for years and years and years, and never take action on people. So we can never really get to the good and meaty stuff that we want to get to, to building a really strong strategy or building some of these other great things. Because we’ve got these lagging legacy problems of people on the leadership team who aren’t right.
Kevin Lawrence 08:00
And it’s so common, Brad, because we look at founders of companies, they’re usually so loyal to those that have helped them to thrive. And it’s, in our DNA to be able to appreciate and want to give people opportunities and believe in people. And we see it all the time. And that’s why I like you, when we go into companies. Normally, you know, I got one, many of them in around multi-generational businesses. But what happens over time, there was one, it was second generation. And the leadership team was basically all the wrong people. Yeah, they were long term people. They weren’t nice people. So it’s kind of, in many ways, if we would take a professional sport team, whatever your sport is, it could be cricket, or rugby, or football or baseball, you take a professional sport team. And if you didn’t change the players for a decade, there’s no way you’re gonna win. But yet in business, we think we can use that strategy, and it doesn’t work. And so we often go in and, and it’s not the people’s fault. Maybe there hasn’t been clear goals, maybe the culture hasn’t been clear. But it’s really hard to do amazing things when people aren’t in the right role. Or sometimes they don’t have the right resources, or they don’t have the right direction. So there’s, there’s all these variables that go into performance. And when we start working with companies, it’s like, Okay, well, let’s isolate the variables, and then try and help people to get into those right roles and perform or maybe they need to go somewhere else. The best metaphor really I look at as a sports team. And it’s, you know, it’s where you earn your position to play on the field, whatever the sport is, or the court and you earn every game. And if you have a bad game, you’ll have a chat with the coach and the coach will help you to get it together for the next game and if you have a few bad games, or even if you have Have a few bad plays, you get put on the bench and somebody else goes in. And no sport teams, it’s, about winning on a game by game basis. You know, sometimes in business, we look a lot long term and we miss kind of the daily score or the weekly score. So it’s, and if I flip it around from the personal perspective, the human perspective, it’s about enabling people to win and feel good about their work. Yeah, because when we’re on the right team, and we’re doing great work, we feel awesome. And when we don’t when we flounder, we don’t but I think the root of it all is it comes down to the founder, and the senior leaders to be able to make these decisions, one to give the tough feedback or to make the tough calls. And most of them have a hard time doing it unless you’re a sociopath or a psychopath, which that’s a whole other different thing. Yeah, people we work with art that they really, truly care. And this is a real hard thing to do. That’s why most companies don’t scale. Yeah, because they don’t have the right people in the right seats.
Brad Giles 11:07
And it’s a tough decision. I mean, before we get into some of the points that we’ve got the kind of the key points to work on here. I had a client that I still work with today, we I reckon it would have been four or five years, we had a toxic member on the team. Now some might look at that as a failure. But the leader, the leader said, we’ve got to work through it, this person has strong strategic relationships with both our suppliers and our customers that we can’t bright, like we will, it will cost us so much more. And it will have, you know, catastrophic damage to the business. And I, you know, me right, I was very much like, So when are we going to take action? Like this is an every single time, I’d say, so tell me what’s your number one concern? And he’d say, well, it’s this person, it’s, you know, it’s, I’ll call him Bob, for one of the better known. It’s Bob, you know, Bob, you know, he’s done this, and he’s done that, and no one’s talking to him, or this or this. And, you know, eventually, it just, it got unbearable. And for me, only at that point, we brought in a new person who is outstanding. And now we’ve got some real strategic traction. But until we got that leadership team, right, and we made some really good wins. Don’t get me wrong in those first few years. But it just takes a long time sometimes. And it requires such courage to get over there.
Kevin Lawrence 12:47
It does. And, you know, it’s interesting, we have another company that we worked with it. I just had the conversation this morning with a CEO. And we had someone that we brought on two years ago, in a critical role directly reporting to the CEO. And, we were just saying today, as we’re reviewing the CEOs, goals for the future. And when we went and did a reflection on the past year, they said, I should have made the decision sooner with the CEO said, Is there certain things with people on my team that I know are deal breakers, this executive broke the deal, did something that was basically not recoverable. And here’s the thing that we talked about, I’m not gonna disclose names, it was funny as hell. And they what they said is, and I know, it was a deal breaker, because I didn’t want to tell anyone what they did. In many ways, it was so freakin bad that they didn’t want to admit this someone because they would look at the CEO like they were an idiot. Like, how is that person still work for you? And so they said, because they kind of wanted to keep quiet what that executive had done. Yeah, um, and it wasn’t an illegal thing. But it was not consistent with their values, because they wanted to hide it, which meant they felt that this was there felt really crappy about it. It’s like, you know, that should be my indication, I should probably pull the pin right now. And it could have saved six or nine months and now this person’s replacement is out standing. In the few months the replacement it has been there. You can already see the business moving ahead. It’s a different type of leadership, a different type of progress. But the point is, the CEO knew, but they’re human. And they gave the person too many chances and, it costs stress to them. And it really slowed the progress of the business down to the business of solid it’ll keep going so think that’s something that’s a glitch for a lot of us. So the root of this the whole episode is, you know how to navigate your own emotional issues when it comes to people on your team. Because that’s the biggest thing we know, we can give you better tools and processes. But at the end of the day, it takes a lot of emotional fortitude and resilience to make these tough calls. And you got to practice it like man, I’ve been involved have given hundreds of people that we have off boarded from company, hundreds. And we got a tight process, make sure they have clear feedback, make sure they have clear feet, make sure they have clear feedback and clear goals. measure them against the goals, give them more feedback, give them another chance. And at a certain point, it’s like they have chosen or they aren’t capable of keeping their job. Yeah, but we want to make sure we treat them respectfully and give them chances now, if they’re ripping off the company are doing something illegal or immoral. And they don’t give chances. And you might even make an example I’m so so let’s dig into kind of the key things that we think make a difference when you’re looking at this. .
Brad Giles 16:12
Okay, so first of all, and really the most important is you’ve got to commit, you’ve got to say, we’ve got an OK business, but we want amazing business, we want to a great business, and we prepared to do the difficult things to get there. Because, you know, the great irony of it is that when you don’t have the right people on the bus, the people who aren’t the right people frustrate the hell out of the leader. Every single meeting that I have, I asked the person I’m working with. So tell me what’s your number one concern today, right? And that just brings to the surface, so many challenges. And, you know, I get I write it down and I get to look back and I said, You know what, like, that’s the 17th time that you’ve told me that Bob’s annoying you
Kevin Lawrence 17:10
say that if Bob’s name or any executives name keeps coming up in our coaching meetings? Yeah, that is a career limiting issue. That is, it’s bad for Bob, if we end up having to keep talking about Bob.
Brad Giles 17:23
But everybody knows about it. Everybody in the business knows about you. And here’s the thing, I spoke about this extensively in my book, my disk drive, right? Here’s the thing that all of the A players look at you as the leader. And they say, Why isn’t he taking? Or she taking action? Yeah, why does this person I’m an idea I’m performing at this level, I thought that my boss was an AI player, but they’re not taking action. That doesn’t make sense.
Kevin Lawrence 17:54
And then they start to go, am I crazy? Or is the leader or the CEO, weak, mediocre, doesn’t care about the company, you know, and as I, as I shared with another CEO recently, that was having to make a tough call. I said, Well, when you’re in the meeting, debating about what to do, don’t think about the one person that’s a problem, don’t have your empathy, go towards them, have your empathy towards the other 1400 people in your organization, who may be impacted because of that person. Now, obviously, because this person is very empathetic, you want to be empathetic to everyone. But you really got to think about protecting the company overall, not just one human and that sometimes helps. It’s harder. So yeah, I think the first thing as you were starting to talk about is to commit you’re gonna have a great team and a great and that’s not for everyone, you know, I kind of we talked about, and if you only want a good company, then overplay monopoly, don’t pass, go, you know, go straight leads straight to jail and don’t collect your 200 bucks. Like you don’t need to listen, you don’t need to listen to the rest of this. Some people are okay with Okay, companies. Yeah, we’re passionate about people that want to be great. And want to do great things, you know, it’s like they want to be in a student. Right? And, and, and that’s what we’re about here today. But if you want to just be okay, which normally means you’ll have more headaches, less growth, and less profit, and less long term viability. And Brad, you know, we were kind of laughing there, but a lot of people aren’t up for it. A lot of people are happy to do a sport at a recreational level. They don’t want to go pro. Right? And that’s okay. You know, but in this realm, we’re really speaking to those that want to go pro. So it’s like either commit, that you’re gonna have a great company or not like I have one client. That worked for a couple years and we made some good progress, but really I was wanting to go pro with his business and he didn’t want to. I don’t like mediocrity, I don’t do well with media. And I said to him, Hey, you should probably get somebody else. Yeah, you’re kind of happy with, with mediocre, and I, I don’t feel good about it. So that is, the first thing is to make sure you’re really, really committed to having an amazing team and willing to do the hard work, and do all the tough situations to get there.
Brad Giles 20:34
And so then we move on, to defining what the right people look like to you. So the objective, the overall objective is, this is really the beginning of everything in the journey, you got to have the right people on the bus, then you got to commit to it as what we said is first, but then we’re saying we’ve got to understand and communicate define what the right people look like to you. What the culture means in your team, what the productivity expectation expectations mean, in your team. So that doesn’t mean that you need to have the most full and comprehensive set of KPIs. You don’t have to have your culture absolutely perfect. But you know, what, many times you can get 80% of the gains from 20% of the work. Yes, when it comes to culture, and when it comes to KPIs. And I use that because that’s really how we define the performance of individuals. And that’s how we know if we’ve got the right people looking, are they productive? And do they align with our cultural expectations around values. So communicate that to people. Make sure that people know what it is. And in my experience, the more that you communicate that, the more that you as a leader begin to talk about, well, this is what our core value of respect means or whatever it might be, and tell stories about that. The more that other people in the business will look at the people who aren’t the right people on your bus. And there, it will, the gap will widen. And then the more pressure will be applied on you to take action on those people. Because everyone else can see that these people are like an anchor that is stopping us from moving forward.
Kevin Lawrence 22:30
Right. It’s like, you know, you see those pictures in Greece, of the buildings in Greece that are pure white with the blue roofs? Well, because the pure white is so pure white, it’s very easy to tell a building that hasn’t been well maintained. Because it ain’t white. It’ll be gray and chipped, and, and dirty looking. And so that’s the same thing with culture. Once you paint it clearer, it’s obvious, I’ll give you a tale of two companies. So early Monday morning, we have a company that we do some engagement surveys and understanding what’s happening in the business. So we’re reviewing the results. And I said to one of the key leaders that were going through it, what’s it like, you know, obviously, your culture is weak as hell. It goes, Well, how do you know? Well, because when we ask them to describe the culture, we do a word cloud. It’s a blend of words all the same size. There’s no common language or phraseology. And when you have a strong culture, there’s common language that we use. I’ve got an annual planning session with one of my awesome clients tomorrow, and I’m reviewing their surveys, their word clouds are distinct. There’s a few words that define their culture, the sticker, and they take it another level. They say, Hey, give an example of someone that lives our value of True Grit. And the end, they start to collect stories like crazy, True Grit shows up everywhere, because that’s one of their core values. But even asking for examples and getting people in the habit of sharing those people know what it takes. And even in that company, they also know if you don’t have quite a bit of True Grit, you shouldn’t be in that company. If you don’t have a lot of energy, and a lot of resilience and a lot of passion. It’s not the place for you,
Brad Giles 24:25
but people won’t know unless you communicate and in write, in my book, again made to thrive. I spoke about the five roles of a CEO. And the second role is the ambassador and a key part of that is communicating on a regular basis. Things like the core values stories, communicating the priorities of the company. So you go to and this is not that difficult. Once you get it into a system or a rhythm. If you’re able to begin the process by saying, Well, we know what it looks like what our values are at a really simple level, and then you begin to talk about it. That’s the ambassadorial role of a CEO. So let’s move on to number three, then give feedback and begin to take action when people are breaching the core values or aren’t productive because that’s the, you know, it’s actually pretty easy to manage people if you have the courage and the fortitude, or the intestinal fortitude. And that is, are they aligning? Or are they breaching our core values? And are they productive in their role? And that’s, that’s about as simple as we can make it. And if they not, are you taking action on it? So yep, in this case, giving feedback, giving them second chances, third chances, and beginning the process of what we would call What is it when
Kevin Lawrence 26:01
performance improvement plans?
Brad Giles 26:03
Yes, that’s it performance improvement plans.
Kevin Lawrence 26:07
Give me some moral malady. Yeah, that’s where many managers fail. When they don’t see what they want. They don’t say anything. That’s why HR departments have to force performance reviews. And it’s not something that’s natural for a lot of people, it should be for a manager, the good ones do it. But the best managers often give feedback, hey, this was awesome. Hey, like the best leaders give feedback on an hourly basis. This was great, more plays, or Hey, this wasn’t quite what I was thinking, here’s what I was thinking. Yeah. And, helping people to figure out what they need to do to win. So one of the things that we are passionate about is making sure that these people who aren’t meeting expectations that would they know, and then they’re given a chance. And ideally, it’s give them a feedback, and then clarify their goals. So like, right now we’re doing a project. For a company, we’re doing a bunch of 360s. And so my team has gone in there and done the survey, and the interviews to get real tangible insight. They’re going to sit down and debrief it with their boss. And then the person is going to pick some goals to improve their behaviors and performance in sync with their boss. Yeah, a lot of people do 360s and say, Hey, good. On your way, here’s your feedback. Good luck. Well, that’s a waste of time. So 360 is a mechanism to gather feedback from lots of places, but even for a manager, the feedback should go into goals. So then you can track progress. And it’s not rocket science. But most, many people are not good at it. And the worst are usually CEOs. How many executives that go head Brad,
Brad Giles 27:55
but it, you don’t need to be the bad guy. I remember. So I, you know, my career, I’ve started six companies, some have gone quite well, some have not really taken off as much. But in my role as the leader, the gold standard that I aimed for was the person would self select, because we stuck to the system, they would say, Look, I’m not going to make it here, I’m going to go and get another job elsewhere. And we wouldn’t have to fire them. So that’s the kind of the gold standard. Because again, we performance managed, we were very clear in our expectations, and then begins with Hey, Bob, you know what, I really want you to succeed. Like, I, I think that you have a great chance of succeeding, and I want you to succeed here, okay, so that everyone else sells an average of 75 units, the minimum expectation is 70. And you’re currently selling 40. Okay, I really want you to succeed here. And that means at the very least, you got to start selling more than 70.
Kevin Lawrence 29:04
let’s figure out how to get you there. And then yes, library with them to figure out a plan and coach and manage and do your job to help the person win. But if they can’t get over 40, that it’s probably not the right thing for
Brad Giles 29:18
them. But the absolute basis of that is is saying, I want you to succeed here, which is genuine, you do. But you’ve got to communicate that and that comes back to really the previous point as well. But right so you’ve communicated it, and now you’re taking action, like put people on these performance plans. Get people out. You know, if you could exit all of your top people within 90 days, I’m sorry, Your toxic people, not your top people. No, you can exit you know, that’d be something great to aim for. It may be too hard. Okay, but it’s just about the action. And then Pete, I remember one person used to say to me, Look, I can’t get rid of people if there’s nobody going to come in the front door. And that’s a whole different conversation. You know, like, if we can’t, that’s a lie. But rose. Yeah, I agree.
Kevin Lawrence 30:18
You can let go of almost anyone on the team, especially if they’re toxic, and the team will rally around and fill almost every gap, it’s shocking. Letting go is not nearly as risky. Now, you don’t want to overburden your business, Don’t go, don’t go and fire someone and say, Kevin said, you know, you need to have a plan and be prepared. But so the main mechanism that we use we’ve talked about before is the talent review and top grading, and the best thing you can do is every quarter, if not every six months, and you get your, your go with your leaders, and you go through their top people. And you go through a process of defining who’s who in the zoo, who’s really good, what are the issues? And and and going through and figuring out, are they in a player? If so, why? What do we do? Tell them? If they’re a B player? How do we help them improve their performance, if they don’t fit the culture? How do we make sure they know and give them a chance or a tool or an opportunity to fit the culture. And if you get this regular rhythm going, quarter, after quarter after quarter, you end up with more of the right people on the bus, because you end up addressing the things that aren’t good, as well as the good they don’t forget, your best ROI is on your a players and helping them to continue to thrive or be better, you just got to make sure the toxic ones don’t get in the way. So, so far we’ve got you know, the first thing is to really be committed to having an amazing team, right? You don’t want a mediocre team are amazing. And it’s not a simple guess you have to be willing to do the work to earn that amazing team now to you know, define what the right people look like in your culture, both in terms of how they fit the culture, and knowing what performance looks like. And then sorry, when you know, when people aren’t matching expectation, make sure there’s a professional, respectful and helpful way to give them feedback, so that they can get on track, or it’s so darn obvious that they can self select that is optimal, it’s best for them and us, although sometimes they won’t. But we’ve done the right things. So the next one, number four is when you’re bringing on new people take it very seriously. And when I explain to people it’s like, it’s like you’re, you’re hiring someone that is going to come and live in your house with you and your family. And if they’re going to be with your kids, when you’re not home or with your spouse, when you’re not there or in your host, when none of you are there, you’re probably going to scrutinize that person a little bit more than we do with our typical hires, you’re going to dig in a bit more. Every person you hire is serious, especially when you’re in management or leadership. So you’ll screen people exceptionally well, again, we’re fans of the of the methodology of top grading, we’re actually doing a course with the top grading team up here in a few weeks. And you know, and I’ve shared before on the show I my clients have no option but to use that methodology. Yeah, period for all their key hires, because I’m just sick of the wrong people that, you know, they don’t scrutinize enough, they meet a person and they’re persuasive, or they have a great resume. And then they put them in a place where they come into the company now they become a headache. And, and sometimes they’re awesome people. And they quit good jobs. But we put them in a place where they could never ever win. So again, top grading is our main tool, but you got to be committed and you’ll have your people have every story in the book. Why don’t need to, oh, we don’t have the time. Oh, we don’t have enough of the right candidates, whatever. It’s all story. Yeah, but imagine they’re gonna live with you and your family for a decade, you might take a different approach.
Brad Giles 34:15
so for me, huge fan as well of the top grading method for hiring. But at an absolute minimum, the simple recommendation for listeners that I would say is you want to have a 10 minute telephone interview, you want to have a one to two hour first interview and you want to have a one to two-hour second interview at an absolute minimum. Now we can talk about the types of roles and you know, like, Is it a frontline person, it is an IT executive and so forth. But, but just in terms of general hiring really, really simple. You know, maybe what you’re doing at the moment is saying I got a resume the person is qualified. To do the roll, let’s get him in. We speak to him for half an hour, we get the deal lost. In other words, we are lusting, of course, the completion of the process. So we can get back to do the more important things because we don’t believe that hiring is important, which never works. And then we hire the person. So yeah, 10 minutes, one or two hours, one to two hours. And when you if you’re, if you’ve got a number, so five or six candidates, suddenly you’re becoming concerned that it’s going to take too long. But you, if you’re committed to the process, you gotta get the right people on the bus.
Kevin Lawrence 35:39
And you spend the time upfront or you spend it later on, because you ever, ever worked with managing an underperformer that takes a boatload of time. So and similar to you Brad we are going to talk it’s basically, you know, a few minutes to see if you want to interview them 30 minutes screening, and somewhere between one and four hour deep interview, cumulatively similar time to what you’re talking about. And the key though, to start with is, is to know in that role, what great looks like and I had a conversation with them. Chris Marceau, who’s the president of top grading, we were talking about this, and I came up with this metaphor, he loved it. And in hindsight actually is very helpful. When most people define what they’re looking for in a role. It’s like a child with crayons, drawing a picture of a building. And they’ve kind of sketched the building. And when you go to hire be equivalent to hiring, not handing out someone say, Okay, please go build me this building. Instead, and with a job scorecard they talk about is it’s getting an architect to do a sketch of the building, or maybe even drawings. Well, you can take the child sketch or the architect’s drawing, and then give that to a builder, you’re going to get very different results with the same builder. And a lot of times we fail in hiring, because we don’t even know what we’re looking for. Right? We’re working off a child’s sketch, never mind the interview process itself, it’s to be so damn clear what that person looks like, what competencies do they need? What results do they need to produce?
Brad Giles 37:18
So there’s a massive over reliance in the hiring process on experience and qualifications. So what I try to encourage people to do is to say, What do you know how you see redacted government documents, right? Where they blacked out the things that people aren’t allowed to see? What if we blacked out all of the experience and qualifications? What are you left with? What if we rejected the skills Academy? The experience and the qualifications? What are we left with? Because that’s what we’re really trying to hire to? So sure, so on that, yeah. So if we’re hiring a doctor, you need to have a doctor’s degree, you need to be qualified as a doctor. But that’s the like, we got to look beyond that. That’s, it’s everything else that causes the pain day to day. So I think that’s a great idea.
Kevin Lawrence 38:15
And it’s a great idea, right? And the point of it is to take it very seriously. Yeah, and to have a scientific approach to hiring because way too many people rely on their gut feeling thinking they’re good at it. And not only is their gut persuaded by persuasive people, but they’re working off the child’s cartoon drawing of a building, and they wonder why they continually make mistakes. So, find and screen people amazingly well and spare them the pain of coming in, and it being the wrong fit for them, too. So the next one is, once you have you believe you found an awesome person, help them to really understand through your eyes what success looks like in this role in the first 90 days, and then set them up with everything that they need to win. And I cannot tell you how many amazing executives come into companies I’ve worked with. And I, I have a talk with them every time I have a chance to, but many of them blow themselves up in the first 90 days. And that’s our fault because we didn’t provide guidance. And you know, there’s two things that I’ve seen, you know, one of my team just gave a great recommendation for onboarding, which is one asking them what they think they need to be successful in the first 90 days and almost giving them a questionnaire but what do they need from the onboarding so they could when I was a simple, brilliant tool. The second thing outside of the and I know you have lots of expertise around onboarding, Brad, the second thing is to tell them in the first 90 days, we don’t expect them to move mountains. Most people come in and try way too hard, do way too much and blow themselves up. Because they don’t learn to understand the business, I actually tell them, we don’t want you to make any major decisions. Any decision you’ll make with a person you report to. And if it’s an executive with the CEO, you need to learn the business, learn to people, build relationships, and get a climatized to us now at 90 days love to see your plan. But many people will come in and want to prove their worth. And they and they do damage one because they have good subject matter expertise, but they don’t have enough context actually, to make the right decisions. And so coming up with a great plan and having them understand what you need, and not letting them do anything major for 90 days, at least, make sure you have lots more you’ll add in there Brad.
Brad Giles 40:51
Yeah, well, hopefully. Yeah, I’m so passionate about this. This is what I’m writing a book about, at the moment. My second book, I’ve done a survey of 1100 CEOs and hiring managers around the world. Currently work in progress. But the data, the data is, is compelling around the value of onboarding, okay, so most companies spend about seven days is about the average. And then it drops off really, really quickly, there’s a, you know, there’s a percentage, I’m thinking like 18%, or something like that maybe 20% that have one day onboarding, the majority have really not a lot more than seven days. But most of the value comes at 90 days, there’s a really strong compelling case, around having a 90 day onboarding. And that is as simple as, what is the manager’s expectations in the first week in the first month in the first three months, and documenting that and then holding them accountable to achieve those things. So the process that I’ve built through that book I’ve used with several CEOs, and it creates outstanding results in that it gets people to be more productive quicker. It creates a tighter relationship with the manager and the new hire. But Thirdly, and most importantly, it exits people really quickly who are the wrong fit. And that’s a key part of our onboarding.
Kevin Lawrence 42:30
how does it exit people? What what what is it that helps to exit those people.
Brad Giles 42:35
So, to roleplay, and your Bob, so Bob, in the first 30 days, these are all of the things that you’ve got to retrieve. If you don’t do these, we’re going to extend your probation period. Okay, so you’re setting the expectations. And what you’re doing is, is if Bob’s the right fit, Bob is going to immediately endeavor to get those things done, or at least get a percentage of those things done. If Bob isn’t the right fit, we’re gonna get to the end of the first month, and through the process, there’s not going to be much done at all, and
Kevin Lawrence 43:12
he’s gonna have forgotten his homework. He’s gonna fail the exam, excellent.
Brad Giles 43:17
It shines a spotlight on to the person’s nonconformity. And the kind of things that we put is like we want you to visit 10 customer sites, you know, that I think you can’t get the month to unless you’ve visited 10 customer sites. So those types of things very useful. I
Kevin Lawrence 43:36
ended up as like a check like a Stage Gate. Yep, don’t pass go until you can say yes to these in 30 days. That’s Yeah. Awesome. I love that.
Brad Giles 43:45
Yeah. So that’s the
Kevin Lawrence 43:47
person will do it. And the wrong person will have a bunch of excuses.
Brad Giles 43:51
Yeah. So coming back to, to this without us falling into the onboarding book. That’s really, that’s really them. Understanding your expectations as a manager, right? This is about hiring new people to get the right person like you’ve got to onboard Well, don’t spend seven days don’t onboarding is not a checklist. Okay, that’s a checklist like have we do they have a computer?
Kevin Lawrence 44:20
Do they have an email? Yeah, it’s all rubbish. Right? That’s just rubbish. Because some companies fail on that. Right, the good companies but that’s not the make or break that makes a breakthrough experience. It doesn’t make or break their performance. Yeah, I’m with it’s some companies have a hard time with those things and they fall down there too.
Brad Giles 44:43
Yeah. And, and some people struggle to get out of bed in the morning, right? Like, you know, let’s we’re aiming for great here. Let’s be fair. So, if you want to get the right people on the bus, you’ve got it. When you hire new people, you’ve got to onboard them. Really, really will. And that definition is they’ve got to understand their direct reporting managers expectations, to the point, it’s not possible for them to misunderstand.
Kevin Lawrence 45:13
I love that. And the biggest thing from that will still agree that we got to make sure someone makes sure that they get them a computer and all that other stuff set up. Right. And that’s and if your system is sucked at the success of that, make sure you do, but what you’re really saying is, it’s that month one stage gates and that is a simple, brilliant tool to help to guide the manager and the person. It’s basically, you know, we do quarterly goals for people, it’s a month school, because that 30 days, if that stuff’s not done, that’s a great indicator. Now,
Brad Giles 45:46
there’s four stage gates, week one, month, one, month, two, month three. So the research that I’ve done pretty much in every country around the world, there’s a couple of anomalies, but most countries around the world, at 90 days employment law says that you before 90 days, you can fire someone without real repercussion. Now do your own research on this because we go all around the world, right? But that’s it’s a generally accepted rule that it’s a probationary period. So that’s why I’ve structured into those four, this is what you’ve got to do to go from stage one to stage two, which is week one to month one, right, you got to tick all these boxes you got to get through. Yeah, so let’s move on to number six, fertilize and prune. We’re not heading back to basket weaving for those of us who will not fertilize and prune, celebrate the winds and fix the mistakes and get the wrong people off the bus. Tell us about this, Kevin.
Kevin Lawrence 46:52
It’s real simple. And this is where a lot of people fall down. Let’s just say that you’re at month two, and it ain’t looking good. Or you’re at the end of the probationary period. And you’re like, I think we made a mistake. The key is to call it then if not before, now, you might extend it by a month, you may choose to whether that’s your choice, but the point of it is very quickly, if you made a mistake, cut your losses, just like pruning the branches on a rosebush. If you don’t prune it, the bush gets out of control, and you got a mess on your hands. So if it’s excellent, pour more fertilizer on it, give them more responsibilities, give them positive feedback, you know, let them continue on their way, coach, train mentor support. But if not 30 day extension, the next stage gate of things they have to accomplish at the end of that 30 days, and if not part ways now. Because if you don’t, one, you’re going to undermine your culture by letting these people in, but to it is actually dangerous, because then they start bonding into the company. And sometimes you’ll get people who are sweet, wonderful people. And they’re making friends and they’re as likable as your friend’s puppy dog that they just got yesterday. That is they’re wonderful and like really good people. But they’re not they’re in the wrong company or in the wrong job. And when you let those people go after six months or nine months, it’s problematic. They’ve made new best friends, they’re loved. And, and it’s really hard on the culture. Right? Especially, especially when they’re bonded 30 days and 90 days, it’s hard. At nine months, it’s very, very hard. Now, if they’re, if they’re toxic people, there will always be a relief when they leave. But they do a lot of damage in between. So it’s, it’s having a methodology and you know, and that’s why, ideally, at the end of that 90 days, there should be a pre-planned meeting to review. How are you doing and what happens now. And, you know, the feedback obviously has happened at 30 days and 60 days. But it’s just it’s really critical to get the wrong people and make that choice and then go back and reflect on Okay, where did we miss in our process? You know, where did we go wrong? Where are we not clear enough on what the role required? Did we miss something in our interview process, and so that you can learn for next time.
Brad Giles 49:18
You know, many shrubs to use the garden to draw a little bit more on the gardening analogy. Many shrubs actually do a lot better when they’re pruned. So they actually need to be pruned to stay healthy.
Kevin Lawrence 49:35
Right to keep the resources going to the core of the shrub and not on these long branches.
Brad Giles 49:41
So so if you watch some gardening shows, the some people get shocked at just how hard the garden is will prune some of these. They’ll cut them right back. And if you’ve ever seen prune roses, it’s just like three sticks. kind of coming out of the ground. And then they come back and they bloom. So, yeah, so prune is an interesting one in that, you know, we’ve got to maintain, sometimes we’re just preventing, we’ve got a C player here, and we’re preventing them from being an A player somewhere else. Because we don’t have the courage to take that action as leaders.
Kevin Lawrence 50:24
And we’ re preventing them from going home at the end of the day and feeling good about themselves. Yeah, I don’t care who it is, unfortunately, many people need their paychecks. So you know, the idea of, you’ve just got a job, and you’re getting this thing called a paycheck to pay this thing called your bills, and take care of this thing called your family. And by quitting a job, you give up that paycheck. Now, some people can take that leap of faith knowing they’ll get something else, but some people don’t. And so people stay in, I know, most people will stay in the wrong job when they shouldn’t. So interestingly, with a CEO in the last few weeks, we’ve got a bit of an issue with some toxic people in their culture, which is being dealt with. But there’s a bunch of people who were kind of complaining about it. And you know, the CEO had to talk to people, like, Hey, you need to call out the bad behavior. And, and, and if it’s you, that is having the bad behavior, you need to listen and change it. Now, the other thing they said is, and if you’re not happy here, talk to your manager, find a way that you can really get your job love back and enjoy it. And if you can’t, you should leave. We want people who want to be here and are happy here and can thrive here. And I want you They said I want all of you to do that. But if you can’t, you need to move on. And the truth of it is, that’s great to suggest that. And usually, we’re the one who needs to make the choice, it’s best if they do. But someone’s got to deal with that sometimes, and it’s very hard. And for managers, managers who are compassionate, don’t want people to be without a job or without an income. So it’s a critical point. And it separates the, you know, the the the men from the boys and the women from the girls, right? It’s you know, it separates the adult and the children, it’s the hardest thing to do. But yet you have a responsibility to your company, and to the people who are floundering to help them find something. But by the way, one of the favorite things is, is if you can even think of man, this person would be great at XYZ role. You know, and if you don’t even have it, you can have a conversation with them and give them time you’re suited to do this, maybe you should talk to this company, and let’s help them find something better because it’s not a secret.
Brad Giles 52:51
All right. So some really good discussions through today. I think that yeah, I think it’s something we’re both passionate about. But it’s really in terms of building an enduring great company, as Jim Collins said, like this is really step number one, you got to get this right first before you do anything else. So quickly reviewing those things. Number one, if you want to get the right people on the bus, step one, number one, you got to commit to actually wanting to do it not having a an okay business. But if you want to have a great business, if you want to have an enduring great business, you’ve got to commit to it, you know, it’s going to be difficult, but the rewards will be there. Then number two, capture and communicate what performance looks like what behavioural expectations, what cultural expectations, and what performance KPIs look like to the team. And when you’re meeting and not meeting the expectations. Number three, give feedback and second, third chances to people into performance management who aren’t right, and with the absolute hope that they will get better. That’s what we want them to do get better not to exit them. Then number four, when you have created vacancies, because you’ve exited people from the bus screen really, really well. We spoke about the top grading methodology there. Then when you’ve hired move to onboard and we spoke extensively today about onboarding, and in trying to aim for 90 day understanding of the new hire into the role and your expectations and then number six, of course, fertilize and prune, maintain the good people on the bus. What a good chat with head today.
Kevin Lawrence 54:43
Yeah, good. And we started with basket weaving, and we ended with pruning. And at the end of the day, you know, all these metaphors, whatever the point of it is, is that this is important stuff and it makes a noticeable difference. So hey, thanks for listening. This has been The growth whispers podcast. I’m Kevin Lawrence is my co host here Brad Giles, and to get Brad are connected with him evolutionpartners.com.au and to reach me, Lawrenceandco.com hope you’ve enjoyed the show. Have an awesome week.
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