JUNE 2016


Implementing Change That Works
Beating the Behavioral Interview
Eliminate the Root of Strategic Failures
Scott Wintrip On-Demand


Change is hard. It's even harder when it comes to something like hiring. You want to get every hire right. If you've been misfiring in your hiring, then something needs to change, even though changing how you hire could seem risky. Incorporating faster approaches as part of the change might seem downright dangerous. But when you balance the risk against the reward, faster hiring always comes out on top. And the key to implementing better, faster, more efficient hiring practices is a matter of leadership. It comes from the top down-as with almost every fundamental change in business practice. And the most important element of leadership is accountability.

In my years helping companies hire in an instant, I've learned three accountability practices that always lead to better, more efficient hiring. I urge all my clients to consider all three when they're overhauling their hiring systems:

  1. Eliminate Corporate ADD: Attention Divided Dilemma
  2. Beat 'Em With A Carrot
  3. Avoid Dependent Leadership

Corporate ADD: The Multi-Tasking Myth

Glancing through the window of your office, you see an employee behaving erratically, shifting focus from one thing to another every ten to fifteen seconds. This goes on as you continue to watch. Ten seconds focused here, the next ten somewhere else. After 30 minutes, you watch their shoulders slump followed by a momentary sigh before they dive back in to their routine.

If you think this employee has ADD or ADHD, think again. This pattern of behavior is common to millions of people in the modern workplace: multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking is a myth, since the fact is we can really only do one thing at a time. Some may dismiss this, but take a moment to watch some who multi-tasks. You'll see they move from one thing to another every few seconds, but in each moment, they're never actually doing more than one thing.

By promoting multi-tasking in the workplace, companies infect their culture with corporate ADD: Attention Divided Dilemma. Instead of giving full attention to what's in front of them, employees are constantly shift gears while never gaining momentum. Work declines as important functions are incomplete, inaccurate, or sub-par. Everyone suffers as customers receive distracted service, employees exhaust themselves, and managers get frustrated and overwhelmed with their responsibilities.

There has been no medication for corporate ADD, until now: the prescription comes from leadership. Leaders must promote a healthy work culture, including:

  1. Single-tasking. Encourage a dedicated focus on the task at hand.
  2. Maintain boundaries to minimize distractions not essential to the task at hand.
  3. Avoid drive-by leadership and, instead, meet with employees once or twice daily to disseminate important information.

Leaders need to be honest about what works, and what does not. Anything that truly matters, like recruiting and hiring, deserves our full, undivided attention: the opposite of Corporate ADD.

Beat 'Em With a Carrot

I'm often asked by leaders if they should manage using the stick or carrot approach. My answer: beat employees with the carrot.

No, I'm not advocating coercion or violence. I'm suggesting a better system than the traditional paradigm of threats and rewards that permeates global business culture.

People tend to fight hard to keep what they have and work diligently to avoid losing pay, power, or upsetting the status quo. So, instead of threatening people if they don't achieve something in the future (the stick), or dangling rewards if they do achieve something in the future (the carrot), try this: give them the carrot right now.

And make it their job to keep it.

One of my clients has a President's Club that had included just 42% of his recruiting team. To earn a spot, team members had to meet specific goals and expectations. One of the benefits of President's Club was a yearly trip to a place like Hawaii. The carrot approach served the company fairly well, but never more than half of the team made the cut.

One of my clients has a President's Club that had included just 42% of his recruiting team. To earn a spot, team members had to meet specific goals and expectations. One of the benefits of President's Club was a yearly trip to a place like Hawaii. The carrot approach served the company fairly well, but never more than half of the team made the cut.

The following year, they took my advice and beat 'em with the carrot. At the company kickoff meeting in January, leadership announced that everyone was already in the President's Club. To stay in the club, everyone had one task: meet their goals. That year 78% of the team succeeded and went on the trip-and the company increased gross profits by 55%. Turnover was less than 2%. One team member, who'd been with the company for eight years but never made the President's Club, put it like this: "There was no way I was going to lose something that valuable."

To increase efficiency, start handing out carrots and get rid of those sticks. Give everyone on your staffing team a tangible reason to come to work each day and strive for what matters.

Avoid Dependent Leadership

Too many leaders spend time serving as the long-term memory for their direct reports. I realized this on a call recently with a senior leader at a large global organization. Her complaint was that experienced members of her team consistently dropped the ball on simple tasks. Basic things like planning ahead for when to send invitations to important events were routinely overlooked, forgotten, or simply messed up.

This type of dependent leadership is all too common in organizations big and small. The issue is not that the employees are bad, damaged, or even incompetent. Rather, leadership allows a dependent dynamic to form over time and out of habit. Employees get in the habit of not paying attention to details because they don't really have to: they have leaders who remember the details for them.

To increase efficiency and accountability, create interdependent, as opposed to dependent, relationships between all parties-leaders, employees, co-workers, and hiring managers. Interdependence creates a healthy dynamic. Everyone is accountable and does their part. It's far better than a dependent dynamic wherein one person shoulders all of the responsibility for making sure tasks are remembered and completed. Leaders can create a shift from dependent leadership to interdependent collaboration by following these steps:

  1. Instead of telling people what to do, start asking them what they plan to do.
  2. When staff members say they don't remember what to do or how to do it, don't give them the answers. Instead ask, "What did you do last time you handled a task like this?"
  3. If someone is truly stuck and clearly doesn't know the answer, ask coaxing questions. These inquiries invite the employee to take ownership of their duties. For example, a leader can ask, "What results would you get if you scheduled the invitations to go out this week versus next week?" Interdependent Leadership relies on each party doing the next right thing. For leaders, this begins by making the practice of Interdependent Leadership the next right thing.

Final Thoughts

When you implement the three accountability concepts I outlined above into your recruiting and hiring practices, you can free yourself up to do the one thing a leader is supposed to do: lead the company. You're accountable for the success of your organization; to achieve success, accountability must be part of your corporate culture. You can do this by fostering a sense of personal responsibility and accountability in every member of your team, from your front-line staff to your high-level management hot shots.

And no facet of your business is more important than your recruiting team-because they're the ones responsible for bringing the top talent to your company. Help them work more efficiently by eliminating Corporate ADD, beating 'em with carrots, and eliminating the malaise of dependent leadership.


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