Day: January 12, 2016

The Good & Great Recruiters

The Good & Great Recruiters

We’re all looking to conquer the world with what we are doing, and we need the right people to help us do it–people who want to achieve success for themselves and can help us do it as a company.

The difference between good and great in recruiting–like everything else in life–ends up being about passion, focus, and discipline. You always know it when you see it – and it always shows up in the results of that recruiter’s work. The best way to put it is that a good recruiter has a keen interest in recruiting and knows all the rules. A great recruiter knows how to go beyond the rules.

Great recruiters reach mastery level because more than just being interested, they are deeply committed to achieving great success for their clients. Talent is not enough. Applying years of hard work produces skill. And recruiting is a craft that is best learned from apprenticing with a skilled master.

A good recruiter has solid first-order thinking, and a significant amount of subject matter expertise in any number of areas that make executives successful. This means that they are keen evaluators of technical chops and delivering candidates that are a strong technical fit for any given role.

This is not enough. Technical chops are no guarantee of whether a candidate can work with the team, fit into the company culture, and stay motivated and engaged in the long term.

This is what great recruiters understand and master. A great recruiter will add value by understanding a company’s cultural DNA, and delivering candidates who will fit and integrate into the team perfectly. Great recruiters know how to identify an executive’s blind spots, and can anticipate how the new hire will complement the CEO’s personal traits and leadership abilities.

Good recruiters also know how to walk away. When necessary, they will advise their client against making a hire, even if it’s a pressing role. Closing that search would undoubtedly mean an immediate benefit to the recruiter in the short term, but great recruiters know that their reputation depends on delivering the best possible hire and have two other candidates on the ready. They can’t afford to let their client close on a candidate if they know it’s not the right match.

I always tell people that recruiting, on its most basic level, is about understanding human relationships. Good recruiters understand roles. Great recruiters understand people; they have conceptual models of how to differentiate top talent. They have a proven methodology for achieving outstanding results. For this reason, the periodic check-in with your friendly, neighborhood recruiter is a great way to get feedback and market assess the competitiveness of your own executive team.

It’s tough to go from good to great in this field. It can often seem that great recruiters are born, rather than made. I also recognize that there are a lot of green recruiters just beginning their careers out there, with the seeds of greatness in them, looking for how they can make it to the next level. Learning to evaluate a person’s ability to fit in a team requires a keen sense of understanding about culture fit, leadership agility, social intelligence, and pragmatism, all for the purpose of being able to lead the organization towards its strategic objectives. Here’s my advice for those people:

  1. Be a student of leadership. Apprentice yourself to a truly great recruiter, and study the work of business leaders and cutting-edge, best-quality thought on executive leadership at every opportunity. Read the books on leadership from the great thinkers on this subject. Your life’s work is to help top executives find the people they need to win. You should understand those people, their challenges, and their priorities inside and out, in order to excel in your own role.
  2. Build something. Spend time, as an internal executive operator, actually building and growing a company. My time at high-growth companies like TheLadders and HotJobs helped me to develop an understanding of the needs and challenges of large high-growth businesses, and taught me how to hire and develop leadership from within. This has aided me immeasurably in helping other companies find the talent they need; my clients can trust me and communicate with me effectively, because I have walked a few miles in my clients’ shoes.
  3. Get your hands dirty. Spend a significant amount of time, energy and considered thought in studying the fine distinctions of character and leadership in practice. Learn to make judgment calls on character – and watch your results, by tracking the success or failure of those you have personally tapped for leadership roles. When you are able to verify your judgment of character by a track record of identifying successful future executives, you will know you have progressed to the highest level of recruiting prowess.

In 20 years of doing this work, I have never found anyone who is crazier about recruiting than I am. Mastering the art and science of recruiting allows me to now spend my time with the top CEO’s, the top venture investors and the top 1% of A+ executive talent focused on making the world a better place. The level of understanding of new technologies, latest methodologies and the synthesis of new ideas is intellectually fulfilling. Changing the lives of real people who happen to be visionary CEO’s and their executive teams is heart-warming. Helping companies that are doing good in the world satisfies the soul. Great recruiters everywhere share this passion. We know that by finding the world’s great leaders and putting them in the right roles, we’re changing the world.

How To Make A Great Chief Inspiration Officer

How To Make A Great Chief Inspiration Officer

I made the varsity swim team when I was in 7th grade. I was a scrawny kid that hit puberty late, so making the varsity swim team was less indicative of a personal achievement than it was the state of our high school swim team. And Coach Swenson was determined to turn things around.

At our very first swim meet, just a few weeks after training began, I witnessed a fully developed high school senior have what could best be described as a temper tantrum. It turned into him proclaiming that he would quit the team if Coach Swenson made him swim the dreaded 500 – the longest race in high school swimming, 20 laps. The memory of what Coach Swenson did next would stay with me throughout my life.

Looking around for quite possibly the strongest contrast with the fully developed senior, Coach Swenson asked me to come over and join him in his huddle with the Team Captains — some of the strongest seniors on the team. He gave me a pep talk, along with precise instructions on what I would need to do. With unquestionable resolve, he commanded that I achieve something that I didn’t previously believe was even a remote possibility for myself.

“Carvajal, I need you to swim the 500. We are spread thin and I’ve got no one else on the team for this slot. You just need to finish the race, even in last place. The team needs the 2 points. With your 2 points, we could win the entire swim meet. I know you can do it, Carvajal, I believe in you. The team believes in you. Will you do it?”

Before I could hit the “s” in yes, the huddle erupted in a celebratory burst. The sheer terror of what I had committed to was palpable. Yet, because he believed in me, I did finish that race.

As a leader, you have many responsibilities. One of the most under-valued is that of Chief Inspiration Officer. The best way to get anyone to do anything is to make him or her want to do it. A team that is positive, motivated and engaged can move mountains! You must be the motivating force that keeps that team excited, inspired, and moving together toward success.

Of course, in order to inspire your team, you need the right team. First, you must make sure that you have built a strong group, with the right players in each position. All of your team members should be intrinsically motivated by the system of values that is inherent in the company’s cultural DNA, established by the founders and CEO. They should also know that they have signed up for high performance, and that “good enough” isn’t good enough: They need to be great.

As the leader, your role is to always set the vision for a better world created by the development and delivery of your product. People are unbeatable when they believe they are working for the greater good: Communicate this vision for your team, and they can power through any obstacles.

Secondly, form a strong relationship with each player on your team. Help them to set an individual vision of a greater self, a self that will be built by learning and performing at a high level within your organization. Make sure each member of your team knows that you support their professional development and their quest to become someone greater than they are today through hard work and success.

It’s also important to celebrate the great achievements that do happen. Celebrate wins for the team, and individual wins, constantly. People will perform at a higher level when they are motivated by the promise of a celebration right around the corner.

One key tool for this work is the 5-to-1 ratio for positive and critical feedback. People are bombarded with negative information throughout the day. It becomes overwhelming, and can lead them to become demotivated and disengaged. So, offer your employees all the critique they need to improve – but remember to balance each piece of critique with 5 pieces of positive feedback.

So, instead of simply telling your employee John that he’s blown his last three deadlines and it’s become a problem, you might try this: “John, you’re fantastic and I love the way you work with the clients and team. I would like you to focus more on hitting your deadlines. The work you produce is awesome, just need to make sure it’s timely and we’re hitting the commitments we set out to and we’re holding ourselves accountable and to a high standard.”

That positive feedback also helps develop trust. Any business is a sophisticated network of complex conversations – the quality of those conversations determines the success of the business. By offering positive feedback and celebration of wins, you develop the relationships necessary for direct, honest, and open communication that makes your conversations effective.

Your work as Chief Inspiration Officer is more than hand-holding or “being nice.” By taking the responsibility to motivate your team, you are taking charge of their development. Your work will get your team moving together, in the right direction. That creates alignment and increases your velocity and operational excellence, making it possible for your business to soar to new heights.

Back to Coach Swenson. I did, in fact, finish the race — approximately 5 minutes after the second to last contestant. And as I pulled my fully spent body out of the pool, each limb feeling like a limp strand of spaghetti, the entire natatorium stood up to give me a standing ovation. We won the meet by three points.

In the years that followed, Coach Swenson would allow me to choose the race events that I wanted to participate in. Eventually, I developed a decent butterfly stroke and won a place on the starting lineup. He would retell the story of my 500 race whenever someone complained about race assignments.

Most importantly, Coach Swenson helped me create a greater vision of myself than even I thought was possible. His belief in me, as incredulous as I was about myself, allowed me to reach new heights.