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How to Recruit Top Talent for Your Team

Recruit

How do you recruit good people?

It’s one of the biggest challenges that our clients struggle with and why they come to us at Southwestern Consulting.

Recruiting is an important topic and it’s one of my favorite.

My start at Southwestern in college was catapulted because I loved and figured out recruiting early on and happen to break a 150-year-old record in recruiting.

Today, we see lots of different companies and industries that struggle to find top talent and team members.

So, how do you recruit good people? Essentially there are 2 key parts to recruiting that you have to do.

  1. Build the Magnet – This is that you have to do the work of creating an amazing opportunity for people. This involves strategic work with how the company is set up. And also involves the heavy lifting about how you present and position your opportunity.
  1. Build the Fishing Boat – This is that you have to do the work of creating a number of amazing systems and methods (ie. Poles in the water) for actually finding good people and then going after them to get them on board.

They both take a tremendous amount of skill, knowledge, discipline and work.

Typically, we spend most of our time training people and organizations how to build the Fishing Boat. In other words, we teach them about all of the different sources of where to find good people and then also the skills of actually how to recruit them.

How you recruit someone is about exactly what to say, what the process looks like, and what behaviors you need to take to convince someone to join your team.

[BTW bringing people to your company who currently don’t have jobs is hiring; that is not recruiting. Recruiting typically means you are recruiting someone away from some other opportunity that they are already (typically successful) in over to join your better opportunity.]

The “Building the Magnet” part is also critical though. This is doing the heavy strategic work of creating an attractive place to work. It really helps when you are out “fishing” for good people to have a highly compelling and appealing opportunity to be recruiting them for!

Here are 5 of the most important parts of “Building the Magnet” and making your opportunity a compelling and attractive one for people to join:

  1. MISSION – Your organization needs to have a crystal clear (less than 1 sentence), inspiring, statement about serving a human purpose that is higher than profit. And it needs to be repeated so often that everyone in the organization needs to be able to recite exactly what it is. Today people don’t just want to work somewhere to earn pay; they want to work somewhere to do good in the world. If you want to attract great people, you need to have a great why.
  2. CULTURE – Your organization needs to be a fun and enjoyable place to work. People have to look forward to coming there! That means you want a place that is positive, vibrant, innovative, inviting, and energetic. It also means you want a place where people feel recognized, valued, and important. Also, it helps to have a brand that is “cool” and fresh that people want to be a part of. Remember, part of people’s personal reputation and perception in the world is who they work for, so create something they are proud to be associated with and they will flock to you.
  3. LIFESTYLE – You want to spend a lot of time planning, strategizing, and being intentional about crafting what “a normal day in the life” looks like for one of your team members. You can’t just provide people a job anymore; you have to provide them a meaningful and uplifting way to use their life. Remember, people typically spend about ½ of their waking hours at work! Lifestyle is typically composed of: hours, pay, location, work environment, stress level, type of work, and of course the culture which is made up of the other people they work with.
  4. RECRUITING PAY – One of the simplest reasons why organizations don’t grow and recruit is because there isn’t any financial incentive to do it! Most people are simple creatures, we do what we’re incentivized to do. So if you’re not seeing the recruiting numbers you want, you might need to look at the incentives that are in place to do so. Also, recruiting (like selling and service) shouldn’t just be a department; it’s something everyone has to do!
  5. LONG TERM VISION – People want to work for a place that is inspiring and part of what inspires people is working towards a bright future. Your organization needs to talk a lot about what the future of the business is going to look like. What are the pursuits your team is looking to accomplish? What are your goals for who you’re going to help? What career paths are available to your team members? And what does their long term pay plan look like? What is the future of your company literally going to look like?

These are just a few of the elements that help you “Build the Magnet” and make your organization attractive. It’s only part of the battle because even if you have a great magnet, you still have to do the hard work of going out to “fish.” But those skills are longer than this post allows for.

If at any point, you would like to talk to us more about how we can help you with recruiting just reach out to me.

Here’s what is great about recruiting though…

You can recruit your way into a great organization!

If you’re just starting out, you can (quickly) build something great by recruiting great people.

If you’re an experienced but stagnant company, you can grow (dramatically) by simply starting to focus more on recruiting.

And if you’re in any kind of struggling business, organization, or enterprise you can recruit your way out of it! Recruit, recruit, recruit and it will help you turn around!

Good people changes everything.

Which is why a great leader is always a great recruiter.

How to Immediately Get More Productivity Out of Your Team

Productivity

What if you could afford to walk around passing out $100 bills all day to your team?

Do you think that would help motivate them?

Do you think that could be effective in getting them to take action?

I think most of us would agree that it would be pretty powerful if when we asked someone to do something, we could just hand them over a Benjamin when it was all done.

Well that is how it is when you give out verbal praise to your team members.

Verbal appreciation is a form of currency.

And the payoff of praise can be huge.

Employee surveys regularly cite “feeling valued” “feeling important” and “feeling appreciated” as one of the highest determining factors of job satisfaction and job retention…even more so than money.

So when someone does something wonderful and you praise them, that is like the equivalent of handing them a $100 bill.

What’s so powerful about that of course is that verbal appreciation is an unlimited resource!

But there is no one reminding you that when you dish out genuine praise, it’s as if you’re handing out $100 bills. So as a leader you have to be the one reminding yourself that’s how it is.

There is no reason we shouldn’t be abundantly and regularly recognizing people for their efforts.

There is no cost to it- other than our own discipline to be considerate and intentional about recognizing the contributions people are making.

And that which is recognized is repeated.

When you appreciate people and notice the solid effort they put in, the more they are likely to stay loyal and bought in.

Verbal appreciation is a form of currency. Recognizing people is a part of their compensation package.

But when we don’t recognize our team members they will eventually feel under appreciated, then that will escalate to feeling taken for granted,  and eventually over time they can even feel taken advantage of.

And that is when they leave.

Or worse, that is when they stay and start to complain and pollute the culture.

At minimum though you can guarantee they won’t be doing their best work.

So remember verbal appreciation is a form of currency. And giving it out is a small price to pay for loyalty, retention and engagement.

In fact, it’s no price at all.

How to Become a More Admired Leader…By the End of the Day

admired

There is a lot to learn about leadership.

Leadership is in some ways very multifaceted, complex, and unique to the situations where it is called for.

Recently, I attended the unfortunate and unexpected yet uplifting funeral of a legend of Southwestern culture, Spencer Hays. Spencer was a personal mentor of mine and someone whom I’ve always admired.

Spencer made generous decisions as a leader that will impact many eras of people who come after him.

And one by one as his friends, family, colleagues and business partners took the podium to talk about him, a recurring theme kept coming up…

It reminded me that, while sometimes complex, there are some simple truths about leadership that are bankable.

One of those is that leadership is always about working with and through other people.

And people, although also incredibly diverse and unique, very often exhibit similar behaviors, desires, and needs in similar situations. 

Generally speaking, one thing people yearn for is to be appreciated.

Very often, even more than making more money, they yearn to feel valued.

They yearn to not only be recognized, but to feel wanted, successful, and admired.

Therein lies a tremendous opportunity that is immediately available to anyone who wants to become a better leader and that is this: 

Learn to make people feel special.

Learn to make people feel important.

Learn to make people feel wanted.

Become an expert at it.

If people feel cared for, they will likely be more committed to contributing.

Because we don’t live in a world that really lacks information, knowledge, or education.

We live in a world however where people are often starving to feel valued and important.

Spencer was a rare leader who understood this and practiced it day in and day out in a way that mattered to so many. 

It’s ironic perhaps that in our social media society we have more “friends” and get more “likes” than ever before, and yet somehow it has all seemed to erode the number of times in our life where we actually feel special.

That creates an amazing opportunity for us to lead because that is one of the core parts of what leadership is: connecting with and inspiring people.

If you want to lead people; listen to people.

If you want to lead people; look after people.

If you want to lead people; lift up people. 

If you want to lead people; love people. 

Make them feel special. Make them feel valued. Make them feel important.

If you can do that then many of them will immediately follow you because unfortunately there are only a rare few, like Spencer, who actually know how to truly make everyone feel special.

Why Competition is Over Rated

Competition

You don’t have to beat other people to dominate in business. 

There doesn’t have to be a loser in order for you to be a winner. 

And the business world today, seems to be rewarding those who have more of a selfless focus on serving than those who have a relentless focus on competing. 

Those getting ahead seem to have more of an intrinsic drive to improve than an extrinsic drive to defeat. 

Success in business today doesn’t really allow time to be concerned about how you rank compared to other people. 

Because in order to survive and compete in this fast moving generation, you need every extra ounce of that energy focused on how to improve your customer experience. 

You have to have more of your creative capacities going into innovating and less going into comparing. 

It’s not about finding ways to defeat your competition; it’s about finding ways to serve your customers. 

The speed of communication, the speed of technology and a growing overall climate of customers becoming accustomed to having their needs and preferences hyper-tailored to, means that we need every resource possible focused on keeping up with and surpassing their expectations. 

If we do that we’re more likely to win. If we don’t we might be in trouble. 

Many of the industries that have experienced disruption have resulted from the traditionally stable providers benchmarking against their competitors more so than thinking about how to better solve the customers problem. 

That line of thinking encourages the status quo inside an industry and opens the door for those outside the industry to come in and find a better way. 

It’s as if innovation is sometimes forced to come in from outside an industry when the age old players inside the industry are squabbling for market share instead of obsessing over customer needs. 

AirBNB, Uber, digital cameras and Netflix were all created from players outside an industry. 

When it could’ve been hotels, taxi companies, Kodak and Blockbuster that figured out a smarter way to serve customer interests. 

The point is that when we focus on beating other people, we might risk missing out on something more valuable. 

When we focus on serving other people we activate our senses. We come alive. We invent. We innovate. And we combine time tested principles with modern tools to find a smarter and better way to solve customers problems. 

The same is true of personal success. 

Our success is irrespective of what is being accomplished or not accomplished by those around us. 

Our success is measured by how we perform compared to ourselves. How we perform compared to our potential. And most importantly how we perform compared to our capacity to best serve those around us. 

We are only trying to beat who we were yesterday. 

We are only trying to crush the way we’ve always done it. 

We are only trying to compete with the best possible ways to get ourselves and our clients to the next level.

The Essence of a Leader

leader

Everyone wants to be a leader…until that moment where they have to truly step up and lead. 

Because we often associate leadership with impressive titles, more pay, and additional job perks. 

Yet leadership isn’t made in corner offices or fancy boardrooms. Real leadership happens on the front lines. 

And what most leaders don’t understand about leading is that it isn’t telling people what to do; it’s showing them what to do. 

Which means that essentially a big part of leadership is simply this: “I’ll go first.”

Whatever I’m asking you to do I will do. 

Whatever needs to be done won’t be done by you; it will be done by us. 

And whatever sacrifices need to be made will be made by me first. 

I’ll be the first to risk. 

I’ll be the first to invest. 

I’ll be the first to do the work. 

I’ll be the first to create the model. 

I’ll be the first to invent the path where there is none. 

I’ll be the first to take the heat. 

I’ll be the first to make the difficult decisions. 

I’ll be the first to take the blame. 

I’ll be the first to learn. 

I’ll be the first to change. 

I’ll be the first to cut. 

I’ll be the first to meet that standard. 

I’ll be the first to break that belief barrier. 

“I’ll go first.”

That kind of leadership isn’t assigned; it’s assumed. 

That kind of leadership isn’t demanding; it’s inspiring. 

That kind of leadership isn’t bestowed; it’s activated. 

That is the part of leadership that can’t be taught in classrooms; it can only be revealed in battle. 

But if you’re willing to be that kind of person…

If you’re willing to step up…

If you’re willing to go where no one has gone before…

Then you don’t need a title. 

You don’t need an office. 

And you don’t need perks. 

You are already on your way to developing the essence of a great leader. 

5 Steps to Create Transformational Team Unity

Unity

A team is a group of people held together by a unifying set of beliefs.  

But what those beliefs are, unfortunately all too often are unspoken.

Typically, people gather with people who they are like or who believe what they believe.

Yet there is some nearly mystical power that comes about as the inspiring byproduct of when a team takes the time the codify their beliefs.

At Southwestern Consulting, we’ve walked many of our clients through this and we call this “The Creed Conversation”.

We first discovered the power of this activity by realizing the need to apply an age-old part of Southwestern’s culture around positive self-talk to our Southwestern Consulting team as a whole. We realized we had not yet taken the time to write out our shared philosophies at Southwestern Consulting. It ended up being one of the most transformational pivot points in the history of our own company.

It’s so simple to do, that virtually any team at anytime can have a “Creed Conversation.” Many companies have a formal “mission statement” or “values” but this process takes it a step further by empowering collaboration and most importantly assimilating it into the regular course of our workflow.

All you need is an audio recorder, someone who can type, a group of some of your key leaders and a facilitator. Then follow a few steps:

1.Set the Stage – Explain to everyone that despite being a team for x amount of time, it dawned on you that you have never created, as a team, a list of the principles that you all believe in. While you may have a company mission statement or something, it’s not nearly as powerful as something created by the team of people who do the work every day. Tell them the goal is simply to document a list of shared philosophies of the team. It can also be a good idea to play for the Simon Sinek’s famous Ted talk “Start With Why.” 

2.Ask the Questions – Start the audio recording (so you have it for future reference) and then simply ask the group (best if done in person with less than 20 people) a series of open-ended questions just to get them thinking in the right direction. Write down EVERYthing everyone says in the random order that it comes out. If possible it’s best to do it on a word document on an overhead projector so everyone can see it start to take shape and come alive. Here’s some sample questions you can ask: 

  • What do we know to be true about the way we do business?
  • Why do we work so hard at this business?
  • What philosophies do we have that are un-compromisable?
  • How do we want to treat our clients and each other?
  • How do we want to be remembered as a team?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • What do we want people to think when they think of us?
  • What are we most proud of in the way we do business?

You can ask any question in this vein and you can’t really go wrong. The only way you can mess this up is by taking too much control of the conversation and providing all the answers yourself. This is for the team to come up with, and you are a team member so you can contribute, but let them speak and create it.

3.Organize and Edit – Once all has been captured now it’s time to assimilate and edit. It helps to have someone with some decent writing skills here to guide this step. What the writer will want to do is first copy and paste similar statements or philosophies together into paragraphs without altering any of the statements as they were initially said. You’ll notice that many themes probably kept getting repeated during the exercise and that’s a good thing but here’s where we’re going to manage that.

After that, the writer is going to have the challenging role of reducing many of the paragraphs down to one sentence each based on the recurring themes so there is 1 sentence per theme. The key here though is to try and preserve the actual semantics used by the people in the group as much as possible. Try to grab key phrases, repeatable mantras, or colorful language from the group but without being too repetitious.

 Then the last and hardest part will be to edit and massage all of these ideas into simple, concise, powerful, active sentences. Don’t say “we strive to do the best we can for our customers whenever possible.” Instead say, “we always do the right thing.”

Once you have all of the statements complete, next you will want to write an opening paragraph that pulls in some of the corporate vision, values, and mission statement. And then write a short closing paragraph that is a unifying and rallying call to action to live out and execute all of the philosophies that were just listed. Oh…and all of this at most has to fit onto one page.

4.Represent for Approval – Now that it’s all been synthesized by the writer/editor, the next step is to send it back out to the team for final suggestions and feedback. At this stage it’s a good idea to even send it out to the team at large (who wasn’t included in the initial meeting).

Invite the team to discuss this in their smaller teams and within their departments to get reactions from people all throughout the organization. Give everyone an opportunity to suggest additions or changes.

It’s a chance to get everyone’s feedback and input. Work on the edits until everyone agrees and you can formally vote on it and ratify it as a part of your continuing corporate culture. (It should be a living document that can be edited later as necessary with unanimous vote.)

5. Put it in Use – The key to making a creed work is making sure it doesn’t just end up in a drawer somewhere with other corporate jargon that never gets looked at. It needs to come alive and be referred to early and often. Here are some of the best ways to get it in use:

  • Read it out loud at the start of every meeting (there are many fun ways you can vary this up.)
  • Refer to it whenever you have a difficult decision to make.
  • Make it be the first thing you show to recruits and new hires and explain that it is the predominant criteria for being hired or getting promoted.
  • Cite elements of it whenever you roll out a new change for the company.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something that is a real-life illustration of a principle that is documented in the creed.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something in the company that needs to be improved or challenged.
  • Include elements of the Creed on walls, trophies, certificates, and anywhere else it makes sense.
  • Consider creating awards in your company for people who exemplify specific lines of the Creed.i)“Initiate” new people by inviting them to read it out loud (or part of it) their first day on the job.
  • Make it a part of your personal affirmations that you read every morning.

A Creed can be a synthesizing and rallying time for your entire team.

There is something tremendously powerful about having a documented, agreed upon, and declared set of values that govern the behaviors of members.

It can turn losers into winners.

It can turn doubters into believers.

It can turn pacifists into activists

If you create a Creed, you will create a culture.