When I ask, “What is your biggest barrier to growth?”, the most popular response is how hard it is to find qualified candidates to help with growth of the business. Being the contrarian that I am, I ask them a few questions:
- Since highly engaged team members are 2+ times more productive than everyone else, how productive and engaged are your existing team members?
- What are you and your leadership team doing to grow the existing set of folks you already have?
I mostly hear silence or faint-hearted answers. I believe that we often tend to try to solve problems with “new” versus working with what we already have which can be an ineffective and expensive default.
How can we develop from within?
One key action is to examine your existing cultural system.
- Are you fostering a team environment?
- Are you hiring people who believe what you believe? That is, do you have a core purpose for the business and leverage it in the hiring process?
- Do you share most, if not all, the same core values? How do you interview with these in mind? Do you reinforce them daily?
- Have you provided a clear and compelling North Star/BHAG/Just Cause to focus the entirety of the organization?
Here is a short video (5 mins)from ADP Research going into a bit more detail on how the feeling of “team” boosts employee engagement.
While figuring our these “soft” things seems like a waste of time, the effort can have tremendous bottom and top line results to the business. Like Ron Lovett, founder of Source Security & Investigations, you may find that you have more than enough untapped resources hiding in plain sight. He describes his journey in a great book called Outrageous Empowerment and this video (12 mins.) provides an example of trusting an existing employee that results in much higher levels of engagement.
If there is no other option but to look outside the company to help with growth, it is advantageous to make sure you craft a compelling story to attract the right people (and repel the wrong people). Below is a real-life example.
Client Example to Find New Team Members
One of the best ways to increase engagement levels is to hire the right people in the first place. Incorporating the essence of the three main questions above, you can market for the right folks from the outset. Here is an example of a client of mine (Chiropractic Practice owner) that modified an employee want ad with tremendous results.
Here is the first ad that was out for about 10 months. (D.C. = Doctor of Chiropractic (medicine))
A Waiting List Practice in Natick, MA (Metrowest Boston) is looking for an ambitious D.C. with the right skill set to join our multi-D.C. growing practice. Applicant must be certified in Active Release Techniques®. Proficiency in motion palpation and manipulation is desired. This is an excellent opportunity for the right D.C. to join a leading-edge, health and wellness-focused practice. We will train you for success! If you would like the opportunity to join XXXXXXXXXXX, please send your resume with a cover letter expressing your interest to: XXXXXXX
Results – 1 response in about 10 months. The candidate was ruled out over the phone.
He was clearly frustrated as he thought this was a compelling ad to attract the best possible candidates. He rationalized that the reason he was not getting excellent candidates in was the fact that MA was a more challenging state for new chiropractors to start a practice and kept running the ad with poor results. His frustration increased as we determined through our work together that, more than any other action he could take, this one hire could make a huge impact to his business that he wants to triple in size in the next few years..
My client and I then talked more deeply about what a great candidate would look like, (e.g., what minimum skills would they need, what would make them a good fit with the staff and patients and, once up to speed, what expectations should each party have assuming a successful and achievable outcome?). After this conversation, we crafted the following ad. Please note that both ads were placed on the same job boards.
We are a successful practice in Natick, MA (Metrowest Boston) which operates with integrity and passion to help active people get out of pain, perform better and live healthy lives. We are looking for an associate chiropractor that is certified in Active Release Techniques®, and proficient in Motion Palpation, and is interested in earning $200 – 300K (yearly) helping 35-55 patients daily to help us expand our practice. Interested doctors are invited to send a resume with cover letter to: XXXXXXXXX
Results – 4 responses in the 1st week!
One candidate was hired shortly thereafter and started a few months ago. He has since received additional responses from interested chiropractic students who have not graduated yet as well as an increasing amount of other options. This creates a “bench” to help him expand when ready.
By taking ~30 minutes to think deeply about the vital few aspects of the role from the company’s and the candidate’s perspective, we were able to describe exactly what a great candidate would find most attractive. The time saved in screening and interviewing mediocre candidates was far greater than the 30 minutes (10 months versus 10 days) taken up front to think not only what you want but what the right candidate would value.
Resist the knee jerk temptation to look outside the company when hiring. If, after due consideration of all internal options, you come to the conclusion that bringing on an outsider to the company is the best course of action, focus on the vital few areas you want to highlight that are best for the company and the incoming team member to attract the best possible candidate pool.
Weak companies hire the right experience to do the job. Strong companies hire the right person to join their team. – Simon Sinek
Homework (Two options)
- For a role where there is no one in your organization who has the minimum skills and abilities to fill the role similar to my client above, pick one upcoming key hire and apply this process (assuming you have answers to the three main questions above). Then craft a compelling ad to attract those with the right mindset and minimum skill level.
- For those looking to find some “diamonds in the rough” internally, read this book (Nine Lies about Work) to help you on the road to creating a team-fostering environment.
These are key elements in the growth framework I help my clients craft and implement over time. Please see graphical representation below:
Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk through the process in more detail.
Bill – Certified Growth Coach
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