Today, I will focus on the people part of their growth. Your people are the foundation of long term growth. This seems simple and almost a cliché, thanks to many great management gurus, but it is the single greatest failure of most high growth organizations.
The first step to attracting good people is to know who you need to hire. Invest time in determining what type of people do well in your business. Over 50% of the business leaders I talk with are unhappy with some of their hiring decisions. You must look at what type of individuals do well in you organization. Take a hard look. Many leaders don’t want to face the fact that they are to blame for hiring failures. If you build an organization that rewards certain behavior, you should not be surprised that you get that behavior. During the early stages of a business, I’ve discovered most founders want aggressive sales professionals. As their products and services continue to evolve, they may require different skills to effectively sell more business. The problem comes because they are not certain what they need and often they continue to hire the same type of people that worked well at the beginning of their business, not those who effective today.
For example, one of my larger clients hired only straight commission sales professionals for years. As the industry matured and their accounts kept getting larger, it was very difficult to get salespeople to work together within their accounts. To make matters worse, the individual sales professionals lost part of their commissions when they brought in sales professionals from other parts of their organization. This is not the recipe for growing a successful partnership with your clients. In some cases, it’s so extreme; a salesperson will shoot down another team member to keep receiving their part of the business.
The second step to hiring the right people is to understand what you want the individual to do for the organization. Many high growth businesses use standardized interviewing questions for people across the organization. They ask their technical support people to answer the same questions that their customer service people are asked. In most cases, you need to ask questions about specific aspects of the job for which they are interviewing. The more the questions match up with the position being interviewed for, the better chance of getting the right person in the role.
Another problem is that the interviewer has never been trained on interviewing candidates. These people interrogate people in the interview process. They ask questionable questions. They act like the interview is something they don’t want to do. They don’t understand how hard it is to get people to leave their current situation or why the person might be looking to make a change.
The other extreme is the interviewer doesn’t like spending time interviewing people and wants to get this process done as soon as possible. They aren’t compensated for their time interviewing others and are not concerned with who they hire until it impacts them personally. Many times, this type of interviewer also says things to the candidate that require further explanation. I’ve seen this type of interviewer share information with candidates that kills any possibility of ever getting the right person in the job. It becomes a vicious cycle where people aren’t getting hired so the remaining team has to work harder and harder and longer and longer hours.
The final step in better hiring is to understand your unique business culture. The challenge here is having a good understanding of what kind of culture you are creating. There are many different cultures that succeed in different markets. No one size fits all for success. The better you understand who you are now, but more importantly, where you’re going to be over the next several years, the more likelihood of success in hiring the right person. The hardest part for entrepreneurs is to objectively look at their business; it’s like looking at your children. Do you love any one more than another?
I know several high tech CEOs who have struggled with hiring over the years because they keep hiring people like their original team. The problem is the industry in which they compete is changing and their customer’s expectations have changed, as well. When the product was a breakthrough technology, their customers might have accepted and occasional short term failure or a gruff sounding technical support person. As the product continues to roll out, their customers’ needs have changed and so does what they expect from your products and services. Companies frequently need to hire friendlier, less technical, supportive people. For many organizations, the problem is their long term employees continue to dominate the interviewing process. Many of their early hires are people incapable of providing the needed support to the new larger customer base. They interview candidates throughout the hiring process based on their technical skills while overlooking other key strengths that would serve the company and the client better. They are given a crucial vote on the hiring decision while not completely understanding the changing landscape for your products and services.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will share different questions and processes that can help you get the right people in the right places within your organization. Over 90% of companies feel that they hire the wrong sales person for their business. When you look at the cost of failure in this key area being from $300,000 to $1,000,000, you can see why you must get this hire right. Learning how to hire great sales professionals is critical to your organization’s success. Next week, I’ll share several secrets to get you moving in the right direction. See you here next week.