The Business Transition Blog

How To Hire Great People For Your Team

(As opposed to Turkeys)

The task of locating and hiring a great employee can be both difficult and stressful; but, it just got whole lot easier, less time-consuming and less expensive. Technology isn’t always a better solution, especially for dealing with the people issues; however, there’s a new, impressive online tool which I think is well worth considering – especially if you are in a small or medium-sized business.

The Applicant Processing System (APS) enables companies to have 24/7 online recruiting that will assure more applications for each job posting and provide a ranking of those applicants based on your criteria.

Here’s how it works. Suppose you are looking for a new salesperson. You would go through these steps:

  1. Establish goals and objectives for the role. Create a job description.
  2. Decide what skills are required. Are you looking for a ‘hunter’ or a ‘farmer’? An inside or outside salesperson?
  3. Identify questions to narrow the focus. For example, if the job absolutely requires travel, ask, “Are you available for overnight travel?” An applicant who responds “no” will be screened out and you never see their résumé; whereas in the past if you received 200 résumés you needed to read every single one, because your best candidate might be #195 in the pile.
  4. The APS taps into many Internet job boards to find candidates. It pulls in all suitable résumés, and invites candidates to your website where they enter the APS process.
  5. You receive and read only the résumés of those individuals who most closely match your job description and important criteria.
  6. Do a quick telephone interview with those who might fit your job and decide if you want to invite them to the next stage of the process, which is to complete another on-line exercise – the Prevue Assessment.
  7. The Prevue goes beyond basic questions that the candidate could ‘fool’ and reveals a more accurate picture of their mental skills, interests and personality traits. The accuracy and validation are excellent – which means that what you see is what you get. Candidates are measured on a scale of 1-10, on four mental abilities, three interests and twelve personality traits. These are then automatically compared to the “benchmark” or template you’ve created to establish the best fit for the job.
  8. Invite the top candidates to interview. The Prevue provides interview questions to further enhance your understanding of the individual based on your benchmark and its comparison to the candidate.
  9. Once you’ve chosen the successful candidate and offered him/her a position you can generate another report that will help in coaching and training.

It’s a dream come true for the hiring manager. It’s a proven, automated process that:

  • increases your candidate pool,
  • screens out inappropriate applicants,
  • ranks the rest in order of best fit,
  • provides helpful questions, and,
  • assures a better success rate of hiring the best fit for your job.

It’s fast. It’s accurate. It’s inexpensive. It saves you time and money.

For more details, contact me here.

Hiring Your Successor

Over the past few months, we have watched as some very big name businesses have passed the reins of leadership to a successor. Only time will tell if it will work; but, there are lessons to be learned from observing Apple, RIM and Canadian Pacific attempt to preserve or improve market share by appointing a new CEO.

The Apple transition is a good news story. It was clear that Apple needed a succession plan to backstop the company in the face of Steve Jobs’ uncertain health. Tim Cook, who was hired in 1998, was groomed as an internal successor. His responsibilities increased progressively until he assumed leadership last year. The company had enough time and warning to make the changes necessary for a relatively smooth transition. So far, it seems to be working as Apple stock has continued to rise.

On the other hand, the RIM co-CEOs Lazaridis and Balsillie, both age 50, have apparently made the transition unwillingly, allowing their stock to devalue by 75% before giving in to pressure to appoint a new CEO. Thorsten Heins, a relative unknown prior to the announcement of his promotion has the challenging task of stopping the bleeding, and trying to bring the company back to its former value and beyond. It is a big hill to climb.

In both cases, the company had the time, money and, I expect, expert advice about how to implement a succession plan for the founders. But whether you transition willingly or “kicking and screaming”, the legacy you leave will be influenced by your ability to hire a successor early enough to make the transition as seamless as possible.

A third example of transitioning to a successor is unfolding at Canadian Pacific, where a major shareholder, Bill Ackman is trying to force out the current CEO Fred Green in order to replace him with former Canadian National CEO, Hunter Harrison. In this case Green is not pleasing his shareholders and may get axed to be replaced by an external candidate.

It would appear that Apple got it right. They planned for it, had time to test the candidate in real life before officially passing the baton, and they got the founder’s blessing.

For entrepreneurial companies built largely on the personality and success of the founder, transition can be difficult. Individuals need to swallow their pride and accept that someone else may do as well or better than they can at this stage. Of course, it can be expensive and time consuming to hire and groom a successor.

But what’s the alternative?

Business Transition & The Beatles

It’s hard to let go. And if we needed more evidence of that, my experience last night highlighted it, again.

It was a trip down memory lane, Penny Lane and Abbey Road. Yes, another tribute to the Fab Four, the Beatles who have left a permanent dent in the collective minds of the boomer generation.

With a full symphony orchestra in the background, the tribute band looked and sounded very much like the originals. They played tunes from the sixties and seventies – some great rock and roll.

And as I looked around the hall, about 2,000 grey and balding heads bobbed to the music that recalled a younger, more exciting age when they would have been happy in the back seat of any car with their teenage lover.

It was nostalgic. It was a little sad. And we loved it. No current musicians can hold a candle to the Beatles.

If it’s that hard to transition away from music that’s 40 years old, it does give us some insight into how difficult it can be to transition away from the business you gave birth to.

Learning Organizations Make Succession Easier

Organizations learn only through individuals who learn. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. But without it no organizational learning occurs.[1]

In 1990, Peter Senge published The Fifth Discipline, a seminal work that outlined the critical importance of developing learning organizations. Senge maintained that organizations which don’t learn, adapt and grow will fail. This prediction is even more relevant today.

But organizations don’t learn. People do. It is individuals who seek out new ideas, information and insights and apply them to their organizations in order to improve. To create a vibrant learning organization, we must first employ individuals who love to learn.

If you’re thinking of transitioning or selling your business, there are powerful reasons why this would be important to you now:

  • It adds value to your business.
  • It makes it easier to bring about a planned transition.
  • It increases your chance of successfully enabling your employees to take on more responsibility, freeing up your time to do more of the things that you’d rather be doing.

Consider the challenges you would face if you employed:

  • An IT manager who resists learning a new operating system.
  • A marketing manager who isn’t interested in social media.
  • A production manager who doesn’t want to learn better leadership skills and how to deal more effectively with employees from different generations or diverse backgrounds.
  • A vice-president who avoids learning about succession planning, strategic planning, process development, or open book management.
  • A HR manager who refrains from learning about new employment laws, hiring practices or assessment tools that would improve employee retention.
  • Any salesperson who refuses to learn about Customer Relationship Management programs or better ways to prospect.

Would you put such employees on the asset or liability side of the ledger? When employees don’t like to learn, they devalue your business. If they succumb to their fears, they sabotage any attempts at succession planning.

What about you? Have you set an example for your employees? Do you invest in business books, courses, seminars, professional development and coaching? Have you offered your employees learning opportunities?

When you look at the companies on the list of “best employers to work for” you’ll notice that one of the traits that makes them attractive is their support of continuous learning. If your people aren’t learning, you don’t have a learning organization and your attempts to transition are destined to fail.


[1]Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 1990: p. 139