5 Ways to Be a Corporate Talent Scout

football team

Any football fans out there? You know there are only 11 players on the field at any time, right? But have you noticed that teams have 53 players on the roster, and 46 of them dress for the game? That’s like having three back-ups for every position on the team. Do YOU have that many team members or employees on the bench or in your organization? The concept for building a professional sports team is brilliant. You’re never missing a player, you’re never out of the fight, because you have depth! And the crazy thing is, each team has several scouts looking for people to add to their bench for years. Scouts will start following athletes in middle school to watch their development, analyze their skills, and see how their character develops. Middle school! Most business owners or hiring managers throw out a job ad and hope to be able to secure top talent from the 10 resumes they receive. There has got to be a better way.

Here’s my suggestion: Let’s be corporate talent scouts. Let’s build a bench so deep that we never get our job back and we are never held hostage by our employees. You think if Tom Brady left there wouldn’t be someone else to take his place? Let’s think about our business like a professional sports team.

Here are 5 ways you can be a corporate talent scout:

  1. Build a Brand and Attract Talent —> You have to build a brand (which is nothing more than what the public thinks of when they hear your name). How strong is your brand presence? Do people know who you are and what your company stands for? When you hear Google, Starbucks, Apple, Amazon, GMC, GE, IBM, etc. certain images and words immediately come to mind. Do you think any of those companies have trouble attracting talent? I don’t think so. Those companies know who they are and who they want in their organization. You must work to develop a strong company identity and communicate it often. The stronger the brand, the less you will have to recruit and search for talent, and the more they will just want to come to you to be a part of your world.
  2. Leverage Your Existing Network —> Your friends, family, employees, vendors, and business partners know you better than anyone else. Who better to know who would fit into your organization than them? You must be communicating with them constantly about the opportunities in your company so that you leverage them to be scouting talent for you. The trick here is to make sure you are working with the best business associates, your top talent, and your most well-connected and influential friends. Talent associates with other talent. You don’t want to ask your mediocre attorney who they know who might be talent. You want to ask the best attorney in the state who they know. This is not a one way street. Do what you can to help them in return – send talent their way, connect them with a potential client, cross-promote their business on your marketing platform. The more you engage in this give and take, the more people they will send your way.
  3. Teach and Train —> Talent invests in themselves and their education. When you spend a day training on leadership or time management or sales, who shows up? The people who want to take their business to the next level, the people who are looking to improve their career, and the people who are looking for another opportunity (even if they don’t know it yet). Whether it’s in person or via a webinar – train often. If you have a room of 100 people, and you do this often enough, you’ll be able to quickly identify who is talent. Who’s asking great question and is engaged in the conversation? Who is waiting for the next coffee break and who is staying late to set up a time to talk? Who is connecting with your team in order to find out more about your business? Whenever you can, bring your team to these events. They are another set of eyes and ears to see who stands out. Another great place to teach is at your local colleges – a breeding ground for talent. Give out your email address and see who actually reaches out. You’d be surprised how few do, but those are the people you want to connect with, roll into an internship program, or bring on board. And finally, hold a career night. Those that show up are eager to learn about improving their careers, learn about your organization, and connect with a strong company. From that, you will likely find one or two people who you will want to move through your hiring process.
  4. Create an Internship Program —> See potential talent in action and see if they have what it takes. Some of the most prevalent feedback we get from people in our company or those that have come and gone, is that they have never seen a company that moves as quickly as ours. Someone can tell you all day long that they thrive in a fast-paced environment. But their fast and my fast may be light-years apart. Get them in and get them moving in your world to see what they are made of. Great interns will be eager to learn and aren’t there just to fulfill credit requirements. This is also a great way to see if they could move into an entry-level position in your organization. Scout them young and move them through the ranks.
  5. Build a Bench of Talent —> Between your brand, teaching, and training, internship programs, and your network, you’ve now got a lot of talent on your hands. Too much talent for the number of open positions. So, what do you do? Build a bench. These are people you know you want in your world, you just may not have the right opportunity right now. Tell them that and then put them into a very comprehensive follow-up system where they are getting monthly newsletters about your organization, invitations to career nights and training events, updates on new opportunities, and regular email and phone call check-ins. The word talent feels like a commodity, but true talent is rare. You do not want to miss the chance to bring a talented individual into your world because you met them, and then forgot about them for a year, until you actually needed to pull them on-board. Set up a drip-campaign and stay connected. Remember, professional sports scouts may be in contact with someone for years before the athlete ever get a chance to play. You’ve got to do the same.

Recruiting and finding talent is a long game. You may have your eye on someone for years before the right opportunity becomes available. It’s your job as a leader to identify talent and then make sure you stay connected.

But there is one caveat to all of the above. If you find a true empire builder – someone who will change the trajectory of your organization – then don’t wait. Get them into your world right now. If they are truly an empire builder you won’t have to wait for the right opportunity for them, they will end up creating an opportunity for themselves and for you. They are probably going to scare the shit of you and be more talented than you in a particular area. Identify that, get over yourself, and get them into your world. That’s what a corporate talent scout does.

Advertisements

The 3 Most Important Things a Leader Must Do

one way

At some point in your entrepreneurial journey, you’re going to wake up and realize that you no longer have a job. Okay, that could be because you built up your company and sold it, but more often than not it’s because you have surrounded yourself with great talent and you are no longer needed in the day to day operations of your company. You might be bored, you might feel inadequate, or you might start causing problems in your business just to have problems to fix (I’m not the only one that does that, right?).

Sure, you may not be working in the business any longer, but it is still your “job” to lead the organization. You are no longer doing the financials, making sales calls, interviewing, writing contracts, etc. So, you show up to the office and do what?

Here are the 3 most important jobs of a leader:

  1. CAST THE VISION >>> Sharing the vision with your team and with the public can not happen enough. It is your job to spread the vision through every conversation, every interaction with the media, through social media, marketing, and branding. Teaching and training is one of the best ways to spread the vision to a wide audience. Some people will love it (and you) and some people will hate it. But by sharing the vision you will attract the people that should be in your life and who will help you grow your business. Casting the vision wide and often is your job. 
  2. PROVIDE FOCUS, CLARITY, AND DIRECTION FOR THE TEAM >>> Now, you’ve shared the vision and it could be ten, twenty years out. You’ve attracted talent who want to be on the journey with you and then see the vision… vaguely. They are excited about it, but don’t quite understand how to get there or how they are going to contribute. It’s your job to provide extreme clarity and focus on exactly what needs to be done that day, that week, that month, to drive the entire organization forward. Cultivate a culture of great questions and allow your team to push you and challenge your thinking. The vision might be crystal clear in your mind, and you’ve got to slow down long enough to explain your vision so that your team can put it into action. And then take it a step further. There are going to be stretches of weeks and months when shit is just hitting the fan. This is when you really need to double down and keep your people on track. Keep them focused on one thing. They will get off track, sometimes daily. Bring them back to the one thing that they have to do. Sometimes this means telling them to set aside a smaller project and extending a deadline to focus all their time and intention on another priority. But tell them. Otherwise, they are trying to do it all, and getting nothing done. Setting the direction and keeping your team focused is your job. 
  3. REMOVE ROADBLOCKS >>> Once your team understands the vision and is focused on the most important ways they can individually contribute to the company goals, then it’s your job to keep the path ahead clear for them to do just that. When your team needs a tech tool to increase their productivity – get it. When your leadership team needs 15 minutes to get your thoughts on a proposal they are about to send out – schedule time. Do what needs to be done to keep the train moving down the track. There is nothing worse than having your team held up because they are not getting the answers they need or they don’t have the correct software or are distracted by a minor project that can wait. Removing roadblocks is your job. 

BONUS: And maybe it goes without saying, but all of the above would not be possible if you are not constantly working on yourself, your personal and professional development, and increasing your leadership lid. You will not be able to serve others or be the leader you need to be if your own tank isn’t full. Read, journal, exercise, meditate, attend conferences, teach. Do whatever you need to do in order to grow and to keep making your world bigger so that  your team and others continue to see you as a vehicle for their success.

This may seem like an oversimplification, but I didn’t say these were the ONLY things a leader must do, but that they were the most important. As I mentioned before, at some point your job will be simply to read or to think, but make sure you are sharing what you read and learn with others. Cast the vision, provide focus, clarity, and direction, and remove roadblocks. That is your job as a leader.

 

It Only Takes 5 Seconds to Achieve Success

5 seconds

 

Last week I read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with picking food off the floor – though in theory the concept is the same. You have 5 seconds to take action. Five seconds before your mind talks you out of it and it’s too late. This applies to anything in your life – exercise, saying I love you, asking a question in an interview, asking someone out on a date.

Let me give you an example: You see a woman you’ve always wanted to ask out and for the first 5 seconds you are ready to go talk to her. You’re nervous, your adrenaline spikes and then boom – 5 seconds have gone by and you’ve convinced yourself that she would reject you and you decide not to do anything and she walks away without even seeing you. Sound familiar? Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t really matter what the woman says! The gift is that you took a chance, took action and went for it! Maybe the woman turns out to be your soul mate. Maybe you never see her again after that brief interaction. Who cares? You did what 99% of the population doesn’t do. You broke free of the trap of mediocrity and limiting beliefs. You didn’t settle. You didn’t allow fear to paralyze you. You took action.

The problem is that most people wait for the right feeling before they will take action. Newsflash! You are never going to FEEL ready. You’ve got to take action first. Remember your physics lessons? An object in motion stays in motion. The feelings will come over time and will start to align with the action you’re taking, which will make you want to take even more action. Before you know it, you’ll have created a virtuous cycle of good feelings and great results! But the only way you feel good is to actually start moving. I wrote a whole blog about this over a year ago and it still applies. Action precedes motivation and emotion. 

That being said, I didn’t say it was going to be easy. It’s still going to suck getting up at 4:30am every day to work out. But it only sucks for the first 5 minutes or so, and then you feel great! You know what I’m talking about. You only feel great about something after you’ve taken action towards it. Most people are waiting for a feeling before taking action and it just doesn’t work! Most people see those who are taking action and assume that they love taking risks, that they love being vulnerable, that they love staying up until 2am to work on their novel. But that thinking comes from their desire to rationalize why others can do it and they can’t. But you don’t want to be “most people,” do you? Believe me, the people who are sacrificing sleep in order to crush a goal do not love it all the time. But they made the choice to break free from their own mental prison and refused to let themselves talk themselves out of achieving their goals.

Use Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule as a tool to break free from mediocrity. The next time you want something in your life – whether that is to resist the chocolate cake or to get out on the dance floor at a party – take action! 5…4…3…2…1… MOVE! This super simple principle will change your life. You’ve got 5 seconds to choose success. Get after it.

Everyone is Talking About the F-Word. But, Do They Really Know WTF They are Talking About?

fail

Look, I’m just as guilty as the next person to use industry jargon to inspire my team, recruit rockstars (see what I mean?), and share the vision and mission of Adam Hergenrother Companies. I’m playing to my audience and I know it.

Disruption. Empire Builders. Synergy. Unicorns. Talent. Leverage. Grit.
Failure (and all the various versions: Fail. Fail Faster. Fail Forward). 

Buzzwords abound in the business world particularly when you’re talking about entrepreneurship. And while I generally don’t think there is a damn thing wrong with using whatever words you need to to get results, are we really considering the meaning behind these words and using them in the right context? Or are we just tossing words around to sound like we know what we’re talking about?

This week, I want to talk specifically about the F-word: Failure. This one is pervasive. It seems like everyone wants to wear the word like a badge of honor, yet, some people still can’t seem to admit when they’ve failed. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been in an interview and asked the question, “How long would you be wiling to fail before you succeed?” and gotten a noncommittal, aspirational answer like, “I don’t really believe in failing.” Or, “I don’t think I’ve ever failed, I’ve just learned.” Really? You’re telling me that when you got a divorce or when your third business venture went bankrupt, you didn’t fail? Sure, you learned a ton of lessons along the way and are going to be able to apply those to your next opportunity. But you still failed.

Here are two things I really want you to get here:

  1. Just because you failed does not mean you are a failure.
  2. Failing forward means you actually have to FAIL!

Failing is not fun. It’s going to hurt. You’ll know it when you feel it and it won’t be easy to brush off as a “learning opportunity.”

Failure is defined as a lack of success. When you’re failing it feels like you are in the middle of the woods with a dense fog all around you and you can’t see your way out. But just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Take each minute as it comes, each hour. And before you know it, you will have come out on the other side. As long as you don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, and don’t say, “to hell with it,” you may have failed, but you are not a failure. Keep trying, keep shifting course. It’s the actions that will determine the outcome. You fail at securing a new client? Good. Pick up the phone and close another. You fail at starting an online coaching business? Fine. Take a business course and start another. You fail at finishing in the top 10 of the Tough Mudder? No problem. Sign up for another race and train smarter.

You failed. So what? Success will come if you keep your eye on the prize. As long as you have a clear vision for your future, no matter how many times you may have failed, you’ll keep plugging away until you’ve achieved the objective. It’s in the absence of life goals and a clear vision where failure can completely derail you from ever trying again. And that is the ultimate failure.

Your turn. Time to practice your vulnerability. Share your biggest failure in the comments. What happened? And what did you do next?

 

 

Is There a Lack of Talent in the Marketplace?

chairs

As I mentioned last week, our company is in massive growth mode and with that comes the addition of new team members. The majority of my leadership staff is in the middle of hiring other Executive, administrative, marketing, bookkeeping, etc. talent. Over the past few weeks as interviews have ramped up the frustrations have come out.

I wanted to share the email I sent to my team about hiring and growth, in the hopes that it may help you gain clarity on who you need to hire and let you know you are not alone. Finding top talent is hard!

Hey leadership…

Most of you right now are in the midst of grinding through your daily responsibilities of growing a large company – which in itself is a feat! Nearly all of you are also in the process of hiring people for your team or division and/or the people that you’ve hired are now trying to hire people in order to compensate for our growth.

Awesome.

What I want people to feel and understand and what I sense is a bit of frustration with trying to hire right now is the “lack of talent” that is showing up for interviews. You all know that talent is rare, yet we think that just because we put an ad out there that talent is going to show up! Surprise…they don’t. Some of you whom I’ve hired I’ve known for 20 plus years and others have been in relationship with me for years before we got into business together.

This is why it’s so important that we are always, always looking for talent. You won’t know when you’ll need them and it takes years sometimes to find them! It’s a grind in itself. Talent isn’t hanging around waiting for you – they are off kicking ass somewhere which is exactly why they are talent. They are rare. You all are rare. Don’t lose sight of this as the entire organization grows. You will need the best people on the planet by your side as we go to war! Make sure you’re purposeful on getting in relationship with the best of the best.

The paradoxical challenge is that most people are scared to hire better talent then themselves. Interestingly, it only hurts you and your division when this happens as your own growth becomes stifled by the people you hire and conversely your own growth is lifted up by the people you hire. Your choice.

People are our number one asset. Let’s get in business with the best!

Never give up,

Adam

The conversation following this email was even better. My leadership team shared ahas and additional challenges they’ve had while interviewing. The lessons are great, but the stories are even better (I can’t share all of them here – but suffice it to say, what happened to basic business etiquette and interviewing skills!).

Here are a few of my team’s top takeaways:

  1. Never stop interviewing!!! Build a huge bench.
  2. Always go with your gut, even if the person looks great on paper, in their [behavioral assessment], in their work history, etc.
  3. It’s okay to start over again from scratch. It’s better to know now the fit isn’t quite right than 90 days in when you’ve invested all kinds of energy into getting someone up to speed.
  4. It takes a LOT of interviewing when you have high standards… but it’s worth it!
  5. It is our job to find [talent], get into relationship with them and stay in relationship with them – sometimes for years until the right opportunity becomes available.
  6. Referrals from your SOI, friends, family, past colleagues, other industry leaders, etc. are your best sources for talent.
  7. Do not compromise on your standards or try to make someone fit into a position. You know when it’s right or not.

To sum it up? Do not compromise on your standards. Do not settle for mediocre talent. You will only get mediocre results. Do not hire out of pain. Have patience. Follow the process. Do not get into business with anyone less than the best.

There isn’t a lack of talent in the marketplace. There is simply a lack of focus and time on task. It could take months or years before you find the right person for your company. But if you start looking now, when it’s time to grow, you’ll be ready.