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Transcript: Attracting, Selecting & Retaining High Performers (EP47)


Intro (with music): Welcome to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. This is a podcast where we talk all things, culture, leadership and teamwork across business and sport.


Brendan: Hello, and welcome to The Culture of Things Podcast. I'm your host Brendan Rodgers and this is episode 47 today. I'm talking with Mark Purbrick. Mark is the managing director of Peoplogica. He has over 35 years of management experience. Twenty-three of those years at general manager or chief executive officer level, and over 30 years of board director experience for both private enterprise and government-controlled entities. With extensive experience in hospitality, retail, production, agribusiness, direct marketing, government, and people analytics, Mark assists clients to make the right business and people capital decisions.

As one of the first adopters of people analytics, Mark has designed Innovative People Capital Solutions and has ensured that Peoplogica is at the forefront of people tests, assessments, and surveys. His passion lies principally in the attraction, selection, and retention of high-performing talent.

The reality is that the traditional recruitment process of resume, interview, and reference checking only delivers high performers about 26% of the time, meaning that 74%of the time, recruiters and hiring managers do not get it right. By using advanced people analytics, the success rate can be increased by 200%–300%, which then delivers an average 40% reduction in employee turnover rates. Mark consults to senior executives of some of the largest multinational organisations, business owners, chief executive officers, and not-for-profits. If you want to learn more about attracting, selecting, and retaining high-performing talent, then stay tuned to the conversation.

Mark welcome to The Culture of Things Podcast.

Mark: Thanks, Brendan. It's great to be here and great to be here with all your listeners.

Brendan: Thank you, Mark. An absolute pleasure having you as well. Now, I have to challenge you on one thing. In that introduction, we talked about this passion you have around attracting, selecting, and retaining high-performing talent. I know that's a passion for you but are you as passionate about that compared to your wine interest?

Mark: It's a very good question because I'm a winemaker by trade. Some would say that I've taken a very different course in my career to what most winemakers have taken. But it's fair to say, Brendan, that my passion for fantastic wines is equal, if not slightly higher than my passion for attracting and retaining high performance. I get paid for one and the other one costs more.

Brendan: I'm starting to think also that maybe the wine side of things in your interest there helps you cope with some of the people stuff that we know we have to deal with from time to time.

Mark: Well, it's probably why I've got so much grey hair. I have to deal with other people's problems and I think you're right. I think nothing like a 20-year-old ride on a Friday night just to wash away all of those people's challenges so that they set off the weekend just right.

Brendan: Absolutely mate. I know you worked very hard. I’m sure you deserve it at the end of the week. There's no doubt about it. Let's jump in a bit. If you can just give the listeners a bit of an overview on Peoplogica. Its business being around a long time, really cemented its place in that area of the industry. Tell us a bit about that.

Mark: The mind-thing that we do and what sets an analytic business apart—especially in a field of HR where HR is generally all about gut-feel and whether you like people—is our job is to provide objective information to management teams, hiring managers, business owners, HR professionals that make them be far more objective about the people they're looking at employing and the people they currently employ because we have a tendency not to do that and it probably reflects which I find incredibly distressing. When you look at the stats for Australia and all Western Countries, we have somewhere between 20% and 30% of all employees actively disengaged in the workplace.

I'm very lucky and I know you're the same yourself, friend. We love what we do. We go to work every day and really enjoy it. We shouldn't take that for granted because most people aren't like that. It’s only about 20% of Australians that actually really love going to work. A lot of what we do in our business is to get more people to love their work. We're a technology business. It's about putting science and technology into an area that has generally been gut-feel and improving the outcome for everybody especially the employees.

Brendan: Mark, before we go right into the topic, what sort of leaders or businesses do you find that come to you to seek help? What stage of their business are they in that they're coming to you for help?

Mark: I don't think there's any particular business or stage that they're at where they come for help. It's more about the actual individuals. One of the biggest challenges we have is, I'm 60 years old and I can relate to a lot of over 45-year-old managers. A lot of them have this belief that they've been recruiting people for the last 20 years, 30 years, 40 years and they know how to do it. But when you then ask them the question you say, with your hand on your heart, tell me what percentage of all the people you've employed over those years have actually ended up being high performance?

I can guarantee you it is going to be around about that 25% plus or minus a few percent. I can guarantee you every time it will be about 25% plus or minus a few percent where the people you have employed have turned out to be disappointing and haven't measured up to their expectations. The really important thing is that everybody, every business owner, manager, and HR professional has never purposely hired a poor performer, and yet 25% of all the employees in Australia are considered substandard or not yet confident by their managers.

Brendan: It's a scary thought. I have to say, you don't look like a day over 59, mate.

Mark: Must be those bread.

Brendan: Absolutely. High-performing talent, let's dive into this. Let's just frame-up, what's your view on what actually a high-performing talent looks like?

Mark: It's a good question. In your introduction, you had confirmed the reality that the statistics show that the traditional recruitment process only delivers the desired result 26% of the time. The reality is if you ask any process expert, if you had a process that only delivered the desired result 26% of the time, which is recruiting a high-performing, they’d tell you the process is broken. The reality is that the traditional recruitment process of interview resume references is broken. It doesn't work.

The definition of high-performing talent is people that not only are functionally very good at their role but also contribute to the organisation on a leadership basis. I don't believe that leadership is a role title. I believe that you will have casuals in your organisation that can be absolute leaders in what they're doing. Leadership is a mindset and you don't have to be in a management role to be a leader. There's a lot of managers that aren’t leaders. I can tell you.

Understanding what a high performer is one of the most difficult challenges that business owners have and management teams have. It's so easy in sales because we've got to measure the sales, but most other parts of the organisation are far more difficult to be objective about what a high-performer is. It needs to look at a whole raft of areas—their functional expertise, their contribution to the culture of the organisation, their contribution to really the fabric of the organisation, and how they support other people, their contribution and their dedication to looking after clients. All of that needs to come into determining what a high-performer is.

As I mentioned before, the stats are really clear that you've got only about 20% of employees that are actively engaged in the workplace. They're the ones that love coming to work. They really enjoy coming to work because work is a very important part of them because they get so much out of it. Then we got 50% that they vary, depending on the day of how engaged they are, and then 25% that are actively disengaged. They're trying to put the company down, while the top-performers are trying to pull the company up.

The most important part for everybody to understand though is that high-performers are two to three times more productive than poor-performers. But you're paying the same amount of money. Too often, managers aren't challenging themselves about whether the person they've got, all of the direct reports, whether they are performing at the level they should be performing. A lot of that time is because managers don't want to admit they got it wrong when they hired them. They tend to compound the situation by making decisions that defend previously poor-decision and  not taking on board the one fundamental truth to do with employees, which is we don't always get it right.

People are a very amorphous thing. Even with all our tools as well, we can select people 200%–300% more often than we’re going to be hiring high performance. It's still not 100%. People just have to accept that sometimes, we make the wrong decisions. The important thing is for managers to take that on board, and then make the right decision after that, accept that they got it wrong, and do something about it. Because you know what, that's part of leadership as well. It’s accepting you made a mistake and then doing something about it.

Brendan: Once again, absolutely mate. There’s a number of things you said there. You and I are very much on the same page around the behaviours and imports around behaviours in high-performers. With all the data you've collected over the years and all the help you've given businesses, is there some inconsistency you've seen in the behaviours that most high performers have? And if so, what does that look like?

Mark: The behaviours required in a role are very particular to the role, and that's why we develop high-performance benchmarks because an attribute in role A, maybe a real positive. That same attribute in role B will be a real negative because of the nature of the role. The best way for anybody to truly understand who are the high-performers in their business—because sometimes people find it really difficult to identify that—is the question I ask themselves is, would I unreservedly re-employ that person tomorrow without a hesitation? If your answer is an emphatic yes to that, then they’re high-performer. Unless you're fooling yourself. But generally, that's the best way for you to be able to identify, these are my top performers because I want to unreservedly reemploy them tomorrow.

I believe it's the manager's responsibility to then look highly objectively at highly-motivated people and all of the rest of their direct reports to say, what haven't I done as a manager to improve their performance? What haven't I provided them? What environment haven't I given them for them to shine? In most cases, the manager can improve their performance substantially by the way they act and what they do. There will be some people in there that no matter what you do is, you’re never going to get them to be adequate but alone anything else. That's when you have to make a hard decision. But at the end of the day, I look at it saying, no one wants to be trapped in a job they're not successful in and they're not enjoying. Sometimes you got to set people free and help them on their journey with their career, it may be with another organisation. Certainly, I think we have an obligation to help them as well.

Brendan: I absolutely love that question about would you 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, re-employ that person. I think that just covers every sort of angle. I thank you very much for sharing. Unfortunately, based on the stats, the answer in three-quarters of the time would probably be no.

Mark: It's an important discussion for a manager to have with themselves. Because if you can't be honest with yourself, then you don’t have to share it with anybody else. They've got to be honest with themselves. I think in sales, it's even more exposing. The statistics are really clear. Fifty-five percent of all people in a sales role aren’t actually suited to sales, and of the remaining 45% that is suited to sales, 25% out of that 45% are selling a product or service that is not suited to them. That's why you've only got about 25% of all salespeople that are considered high-performers. It's only about 25% of all salespeople that consistently hit budgets.

Most salespeople don't consistently hit budgets and sales is all about behaviours. The beauty of sales is its active measures on sales. Sales is the easiest role to measure of whether someone's being a high performer or not. Sales managers need to take more of a responsibility. They need to be far more objective in their hiring process because salespeople are really good at selling themselves to other salespeople. They're very good at mirroring the person across the interview table. Sales managers can have a tendency of selecting people that are more like themselves. But they're not employing someone to be a sales manager. They're employing someone to be a salesperson, and that's where it starts falling down.

Brendan: There are two things that stick out to me as this phrase comes up so often. I find myself always using it, a culture is a reflection of leadership. Perhaps if you've got a performer that's maybe not up to the scratch supposedly based on the leader, we need to look at ourselves first. The second thing that I took from what you’ve just said is that it’s so important to have the right people but the right people in the right roles. No doubt though, the work that you do helps organisations achieve that.

Let's get into attracting this talent,  this high-performing talent, and we'll move on to the selecting. Let's take a scenario. I'm leading a business. I've had some people turn over and stuff. What advice would you give me? I want to start to attract some high-performing talent. How do I do this?

Mark: The first bit of advice is, recruitment is a process. People make it out to be a lot harder than what it is. If you follow the process, it's actually really quite easy. The first part about recruitment is, I don't know how anybody can go out and recruit for a role unless they truly understand what type of beast they're looking for. They already know from the position description—what experience they want, what knowledge they need, what skills I want. All of the learnable skills and knowledge, they have that in the position description. That's fine.

What we're talking about is the beast. What's the heart, mind, and soul of the person that you require in the role? I don't know how anybody can go out and even start looking for someone unless they have an idea of what that beast actually looks like to start off with, which is really the heart, mind, and soul, which is what People Analytics measures. That's what its real strength is,  focusing people on the type of person you also want, not just the learnable skills and knowledge they need to have.

Once you have that benchmark developed, whether you use tools like ours or you just doing it on your head and doing it on a piece of paper—it doesn't matter how you do it, there might be a difference in accuracy and order, but still, you're going to be far better off—then one of the biggest mistakes that happen with the job ad. It appears to me that the least amount of time that hiring managers, HR professionals, and professional recruiters put into the whole selection process is the job-ad. They have a tendency to just copy and paste the position description, chuck it into a job-ad, chuck it up on SEEK, and hope for the best.

The problem with that is it doesn't answer the one fundamental question that really good candidates, and really any candidates, and especially our Millennials and Gen X’ers now want to be answered, which is what's in it for me? And the salary that can cut it. That's one small part of it. What we get our clients to do is when you understand what type of beast you want, you, therefore, understand what they enjoy doing and what they don't enjoy doing.

When you're then writing your job ad, you still have a paragraph about how the company is because that's important, and the security of it, and security of employment. Instead of ramming the position description in there. What you're going to do for the company is we change that to what the company, what the role is going to offer to the first. It's more about if you enjoy doing this, don't like doing this, and things like you don’t like managers looking over your shoulder, you don't like being monitored, you straight down the line because it's all based on the behaviours of the benchmark of the role. Because what then happens is, when people are reading the job ad, they're not reading about a job anymore. They're reading about what they'll enjoy doing. It's then actually about their engagement and whether this role is something that is for them.

Importantly, what it also does is it gets them to look at a role and say inside, well, I'd never want to work in a contact centre. That their view on not working a contact centre could have been because one of their best mates worked for the contact centre 4 years ago and hated it. They now think, I don't want to work in a contact centre. If the job ad goes through all of these things of what you enjoy doing and what you don't enjoy doing, and they look and they think like, well, I never thought of I wanted to work in a contact centre, but that's me. What they've just explained is me. Then underneath you've got, if the above resonates with you, that's what are high-performers alike. You can be a high-performer now, too.

It reaffirms to them that they should at least have a look. Those what we call targeted job advertisements, we generally get a three to six times uplift in the number of quality candidates applying. That's the game. It's getting quality candidates. It's not about the total number. It’s how many quality candidates you get. That's probably the second part. You've got to know what sort of beast you're after, and then attract that type of beast to apply for your job advertisement because the reality is we've got a 100% failure rate of recruiting the best person for the job if they haven't applied for the job in the first place. You can't look at them if they don't apply for the job. That's the next part.

The attraction phase is one of the most important phases because if you can't look at them, you can't employ them. The next part then is the interviewing process and the screening process. That's where a lot of our analytics come into it, whether it's ours or anybody else’s. It’s helping the hiring managers and HR professionals to really concentrate on what's important in the role. Our interview guides provide a measure of fits. I've actually measured some fits of the candidates for the role. It identifies potential barriers to success. It highlights where the challenges could be for that person in the role.

It then provides interview questions that are tailored to dig down into all of those areas. The hiring manager can work out whether the person is self-managing that area and whether they're flexing across, or whether they need to provide an environment for them to flex across because it's all about getting the person to behave the way you want them to behave between 9:00 AM–5:00 PM.

Brendan: Our interview will continue after this.

Mate, I want to now go into that selection process. We've hopefully attracted a high quality or a number of high-quality candidates and created some healthy competition. It's a great point you make, that candidate uplift in the way that you've put that target out there together. Hopefully, it does allow for a lot more quality coming through rather than the quantity because as well as a lot of business owners and leaders are having to sort through a lot of sort of rubbish people that are not aligned to the role, they're just applying for everything. Thank you for sharing that.

For the selecting process, I'll probably want to look at it from a stage of, you guys have got so much information, so many handy tools, and so much experience, you can really help people with. But I don't want to undermine the importance of selecting the right candidate. Probably based on our time schedules today, let's say,  given your experience if we had the perfect case scenario, let's drop that back to say a minimum viable product of maybe three things that you think through the selection process that are absolutely vital for leaders to do if they were to do nothing else, these are our foundations. Talk a bit about that mate.

Mark: It comes down to probably the three biggest mistakes that people make in the selection process. There's a thing called the psychological contract. The psychological contract is the unwritten contract that's made. It starts at the attraction phase but it’s particularly through the selection phase. The unwritten contract is made between the potential employer and the candidates. It's based on what the employer really promised on the way through. A lot of employers, a lot of managers promise things to candidates about career progression, about benefits, about a whole lot of stuff that is really stretching the truth of what actually happens in the organisation. The psychological contract is really important.

My number one lesson to all people out there that are tasked with selection, if you don't do anything else, do this. It’s to not blow up the attributes of the organisation if you can't deliver it because the downside of that when you employ that person when those things don't happen and they find out that it was all rubbish, and you were just gilding the lily at the start, it's not a good place to be with the employee because that doesn't help with engagement. That would be the first one.

The second part is people say in the first three minutes of the interview, I know whether they're good or not. I can tell you, no, you don’t. Sometimes in the first three minutes, they're maybe. But I can tell you you don't because there's no way in the world you've done enough digging in three minutes to determine that or not. The other one that I think is a real bailing at the moment is, especially in roles where they get a lot of applications in the screening side, there is a substantial amount of unconscious and conscious bias when people are looking at resumes. We will all have cases of friends of ours or people we know to be so, I applied for a job. It's perfect for me. I'd be fantastic at it. They didn't even get the first interview. Whether they’re right or not, it doesn't matter.

Let's say at least some of those people would have said it to us would be right. There are some people who were really just not good at writing resumes. There are some who don't go and pay a resume writer to put together a professional resume for them, and yet people are determining whether they're even going to get looked at based on reading probably two paragraphs of their cover letter, and maybe three-quarters of the first page of their resume, and they're either in or out from that. There is also unconscious bias and it could be because of what suburb or what town they live in. It could be because of their gender. It could be because of the length of the surname. There's a whole lot of stuff, that people, like it or not, there is unconscious bias.

The screening process, we've been concerned about this for a long time. Because of COVID, we've been able to now provide two organisations unlimited psychometric assessment. You can actually use a psychometric instrument to screen candidates upfront for the type of beast there are which then means that if they're not very good at resume writing, or it doesn't matter where they come from, or what they are, or any of that stuff is if they have a certain fit above, you got to have a look at them which levels the playing field for everybody and essentially eradicates unconscious bias. Unconscious bias to be the third one, a big one to be really careful.

Brendan: Fantastic points. I really love that psychological contract scenario. I've never heard that term before but I get exactly what you're saying. If those alignments are not there from day one, then you certainly have some problems.

Mark: You've broken trust. The other thing about selection is it's the opportunity, especially for the hiring manager, who the person is going to report to, but for the organisation as a whole. HR professionals have to really take this on board. It's the opportunity to show how professional an organisation you are. Too many times people treat candidates—I was going to say with disdain and that's probably unfair—they don't treat them with the respect they should treat them, every candidate. They don't take into account that people talk to other people. People can become clients of yours further down the track. In ten years’ time, they could be running a company of which you're tendering and they’d remember your company is being very poor. You've got to treat your candidates with a huge amount of respect and a lot of people don't do that. They have them waiting when they shouldn't. They say I'm going to get back to you by a certain date, but they don't.

We are really firm whenever we're doing our own recruitment, we set the timelines down. When we have the first interview, we give them a timeline, and the timelines we give are timelines we know we're always going to be. We’re always going to be in front of that because it shows the professionalism of the organisation. You're not there to become friends with them. You're there to show them that you're highly professional. One of the mistakes that hiring managers make is, they’re more like it's about finding out whether they like the person. You know what, it's not about like. It's about whether the person is going to be a future high-performer.

The selection process is not an opportunity for people to hire their next best man. It's not about that. Sometimes you're going to be hiring people that you don't particularly like personally, but it's not about you. It’s about how they’re going to perform in the role and whether they’re going to be a high-performer. I mentioned earlier that the recruitment process is a process and we provide our clients with essentially the back sheets of being able to keep it as a process. I think that really helps them. I’m going to provide it to your listeners as well because it’s important for us [...] I don’t care whether people use our services or not. But I want them to give their employees, their future employees the best experience ever.

Brendan: I’m going to get you to share what you think may be the best tool around that interview process that you guys have. But I’ve got to share a short story because what you just said resonated with me around the disrespect that organisations show candidates. My wife has been working for a while now, but during the process of finding a role, she had a couple of interviews. One of the interviews she actually got was for a funeral company. She had the interview, felt really good, she followed up a number of times, they never got back to her at all.

I thought, wow, a funeral company that doesn’t have the respect for people even when they’ve had an interview to get back to them and say, look, you’re not being successful. I just could not believe it. The taste that leaves in your mouth and then you think, would you ever put your loved ones that have passed away to that funeral company. I wouldn’t because I know how they treat people.

Mark: Yup. I’m sure your wife and you have told many people and told them the name of that funeral and they’ll never use it. That’s exactly right. It’s courtesy. We talk about common courtesy. Unfortunately, for some reason, a lot of people think that the candidates don't deserve the courtesy that they would provide their clients. They do. All candidates deserve the same courtesy.

A candidate should never have to chase up an employer, especially after they’ve had an interview. They shouldn’t have to chase them up to where it is. The employer should be proactive. If they don’t think they’re the right person, tell them. That’s fine. But they should never have to chase them up. They should never have to do that.

One of the other things is, if a candidate doesn’t get a role, the highest respect and compliment you can ever get as an organisation is when they tell their friends and say, I missed out on this role and I’m really shattered that I didn’t get it. Because I got to tell you, they were fantastic to deal with. They’d be great to work for. It’s a shame I didn’t get it. If ever you get a chance and for them, I reckon you should have a look because even though they didn’t get the role, they’ll sing your praises. That’s what you want.

Brendan: Such a great point. I’m giving you a little bit of time to think in the background why you’ve been saying that. I gave you the lead-in. You’ve got so many tools available. I want to know at the end of this interview process. If I’m a business and I need some help in this area and people actually think it’s a great place to come, what is a tool you think offers the best value if they just had the resource or the budget just to have one at their disposal for the interview process or in that process of recruiting.

Mark: There’s a lot of psychometric assessments out there. There are quite a few very good ones, but there’s a lot that isn’t very good and will sing you down the wrong direction. To get the best out of the interview process, you need to use a psychometric instrument. That’s the first thing. If you could talk to any provider, the ones that you need to use are the ones that have distortions going. They actually measure the candidate’s candour. They measure the quality of information being provided by the candidate.

They need to have, it’s called Cronbach's coefficient alpha score. They need to be over 0.70 because anything below that is not reliable enough for selection. It’s reliable enough for internal coaching, mentoring, and other stuff. DISC and Myers-Briggs have really good applications within there. But it’s got to be above 0.7 per selection. We offer platforms and I know no one likes spending money that they don’t want to, especially in today’s times. But people have to look at it as an investment and an insurance policy because I can tell you that the cost of recruiting a poor performer is 100 times more, if not more, than the cost of actually making sure you don’t recruit them in the first place.

To answer your question, you need to have a psychometric assessment that’s validated, that’s reliable, that provides you with an interview guide that measures the person’s fit to the role that you’re looking at. It not only measures their fit, but it identifies where the potential barriers are and then provides you with the behavioural interview questions to drill them in all of those areas, to satisfy so or whether it’s manageable. That would be the number one tool to use.

Brendan: Thank you, mate. I really want you just to reform this for maybe a minute or two. What are those costs that you see in day to day businesses of getting the wrong person into the organisation?

Mark: There’s a lot of calculators out there and they’re all based on an end goal. It’s pretty well accepted. The cost of recruiting a poor performer or the cost of losing a high performer—you got the two ends of the spectrum, one is winging on a poor performer, the other one is losing a high performer and retaining. We’ll talk about retaining top talent later. The way they look at the cost is you take the base salary and you look at it’s between 50% to 250% of the base salary. For an entry-level employee between $40,000, and $60,000, $70,000 or so, it would be about 50% of their base salary.

Your cost of bringing on a poor performer or losing a top performer is going to be around $35,000. You don’t see it on your bottom line because it’s all the time that your management teams then trying to deal with problems of fixing things up and that is a massive cost, let alone retraining costs and all of them, and recruitment cost to replace them and everything else that goes in. Then up to about 250% where you get up into the executive roles, that have an impact on executive roles where let’s say, they’re on $200,000. That cost can be $500,000 to the organisation because of the catch-up, because of the loss of knowledge, and everything else. It’s between 50% and 250% of the base salary.

Brendan: Wow, it’s an unbelievable cost for any business. But if you think about small-medium businesses, that’s a massive impact.

Mark: If you’re a smaller business and you got less than 20 employees, you can’t afford to have substandard employees running it. You just can’t afford it. It’s far too high a cost. If you’re a big multinational with 5000 employees plus, you can have hundreds of them walking around and it’s okay. It’s fine. But you can’t afford it when you’re a small business.

We talked about it before. No one likes spending money when they don’t want to. But I reckon you said to every small business owner and also with a large business executive, for the cost of a thousand dollars or less to essentially measure the fit and measure the suitability of your three shortlisted candidates, that’s probably about the best thousand dollars of insurance you can ever spend.

When you think of if your average manager is being paid a hundred or a thousand now on the books, it doesn’t take 1–2 through 10 hours of performance management time because you’ve got a substandard performer there.

Brendan: Let’s get into this retaining talent. We’ve attracted some talent. We’ve interviewed some talent and there’s a bit of a process around that. Again, I’m sure you don’t sign up to the belief that one interview, three or four minutes and you saw it, and you found the talent that you need. But let’s get into retaining the talent. Why is that part so important and what the company needs to do to retain top talent?

Mark: There’s also an extra [...] along with this which is the belief, whether rightly or wrongly, that millennials are changing jobs a lot more now as well and moving around. The retention of talent, you work so hard to get on really good talent. You work so hard to foster them and to essentially extract the benefits to the organisation from them. You need to work as equally as hard at the retention side with them. For example, in my view, part of my talent retention is none of my employees have ever asked for a pay raise. The reason they've never asked for a pay raise is that every six months, I have been in my diary, I look at every one of those employees and I ask myself a one really simple question. That is, if they handed their resignation to me today, what would’ve I done two months ago to make sure that didn't happen?

Every six months, that's the question I ask myself. Whether that is an increase in salary, whether it's providing dinner for them and their partner, to go out to dinner, or whether it's doing something else, it doesn't matter what you're doing. It's being really honest with yourself about who is your key talent and actually putting effort and thought into retaining them. It does start back to the first day on the job. The first day that somebody walks into an organisation. Far too often this happens, where they walk into the office, the receptionist doesn't know who they are.

They're made to wait 15 minutes for the manager to come out. They get in there and they say, we haven't quite got all the schedules organised. The first day will absolutely imprint on the person as to whether this is an organisation that they should stay in or not. Everybody, when they change jobs, they’re really nervous whether they actually did the right thing. It doesn’t matter how confident they are about the new job they're going into. There’s still that little bit in their stomach that is going, I hope I did the right thing.

That first day, when they come in, they're already on their computer. Within their Outlook, it already has blocked out all the meetings they're having with all the people they're having it with. We don't start people Mondays. We start them on Wednesdays because it's a really high learning environment in our environment. Three days is enough, otherwise, they’ll feel like a jelly at the top of the head. We have those three days, then they have a weekend that allows them to think it through. But we have essentially the whole week-and-a-half plan. The first week-and-a-half is all planned within their [...].

If it's a larger organisation that has their receptionist, when the person comes in, the receptionist should know. They should say, how are you going, Mark? Welcome to the team. I’ll just go and get Bill. Bill will come out and Bill’s out there one minute later, takes you in. If you've got business cards, you're already sitting there. If you've got a company car, the keys are already there. You’ve got all the forms that you need to sign. Everything’s organised.

Because then that person will go home and say to their partner or spouse or mates, I made a great decision. How good is this? That really flows over. The next part of that onboarding process is to really show that your principal concern is for your new employee to really love their job and for them to be successful. Your concern is all about them loving their job and being successful. Not about where they just get the sense that they're just another cog in the wheel just for you to do what you need to do. I think that's really important as well.

Brendan: Once again, fantastic points. I might takeaway to sum a little bit of that up is really about the most effective thing you can do is be prepared and make them feel welcome. Flowing on from that, let's say that the first few weeks have gone really well and they're into this stride, is there a most effective tip that you think is really important for the organisation or particularly the leader that this person is being led by to do regularly?

Mark: If you’ve used psychometric assessments for the recruitment side, then you will also get coaching reports at the back end. They give a range of coaching, mentoring, and training suggestions that will mitigate any of those potential barriers to success. From day one, you're actually looking at that. If you've used assessments to do that then on the onboarding stage, you actually sit down with the new employee. You give them their individual profile. It's a profile on themselves that came out at the back end of the assessment.

When they've gone through that, then you'll have the discussion that goes like this, what we found through the assessment is that you're more assertive than what this position typically requires. This is what we're going to do. The manager would approve the bill on mentoring or coaching suggestions out of the coaching report. You have a maximum of four things in the report. They actually talk about how the manager is going to flex their management style to suit the employee instead of them just trading everybody to sign. Obviously, that has a huge impact on their first day as well because they’ll go like, not only do they treat me with respect and it’s been fantastic, they've already identified where I could potentially [...] and we've got a thing in place.

What comes out of that then is an employee action plan. The employee then develops the employee action plan. If you're not using assessments then to your point, three weeks down the track, they need to develop that employee action plan. We develop it on the first day, but you don't have that knowledge if you don’t have the assessment results. You’ve got to wait until you see the person for the first three weeks. Probably, you won't have a great knowledge of them, but at least you can start on it. Put together an employee action plan and show the employee that you as a manager are just as committed to their success as you are to your own success.

Brendan: Once again, you have so many fantastic points. What I want to understand from you again, in your extensive experience, coaching can be difficult for leaders. How much easier have you found it for leaders in order to become better coaches of their people and help their people improve when they got that information at hand, whether that's an action plan that has some help device or whether they’ve used some tools that Peoplogica provides? How much easier in your experience do you think they find it to have those coaching conversations?

Mark: The biggest challenge that we've all had is when you're promoted to being a supervisor or when you're promoted to being a manager, no one actually gives you any training on how to actually manage people. All of this, when we first start managing people, we’re all linemen in a dark room walking around, trying to work out what we actually do. I know. I certainly was in that because no one gives you the guidance and the tips on how to actually do it.

There's a couple there and also, let's not forget, we know people leave managers, they don’t leave companies. A lot of organisations will invest in leadership development for their executive leadership tank. That's fine, you need to do that. They seem to forget one fundamental characteristic of nearly all companies. That is the vast majority of all the employees, report to mid-level management. They don’t report to senior management.

One of our drives and passions is that organisations should develop leadership capabilities at all levels. Not just at the executive level, at all levels, especially at mid-level management, but also especially at the supervisory level. No one ever does it. By using the tools that people analytics with coaching reports and all that, there’s also leadership reports, there are team leadership reports.

One of the things we’re really big on is 360 leadership surveys. I personally believe that 360 leadership surveys are the most effective personal leadership development tool going around. But I also recognise that a lot of them aren't done very well. It's all about the process for 360 leadership. The 360 leadership, if it’s not done well can actually do more damage than help. Whoever you’re using or if you're going to do a 360 leadership program, just make sure they are really going to check their asset, get to know the process so that the process is really strong because it's about nurturing your managers to become better leaders. Every dollar invested in increasing leadership potential within an organisation, I guarantee you, will be returned to the bottom line. It’ll be returned in increased revenue, increased profitability, and most importantly, increased customer services.

Brendan: I'll tell you what, I wish we had time to dig into that because that sounds like just the whole other podcast conversation. We’ll arrange that for some time in the future, mate. A lot of things have come out today, though I reckon we could just dive into another hour or so for another time.

Mark: Happy to do that.

Brendan: Biggest challenge of all because again, all of the information you shared, I want you to get it down to maybe one bit of advice. But when we're talking about this topic, attracting, selecting, and retaining high performing talent, what would be that single biggest bit of advice you would give to leaders out there in order to get them on the journey, on the right path around attracting, selecting and retaining high performing talent?

Mark: It's a $10 million question.

Brendan: I hope to sell it after the episode.

Mark: The best tip I can give to anybody is to stop hiring on like, stop using your gut to hire. You're not hiring someone on fit, then you're never going to get the best outcome. The reality is, for all of your listeners, they’ll all be using advanced technology in every other part of their business—in finance, in operations, in sales, in manufacturing. They will be upgrading their technology. They will be looking at new technology. They'll be piloting new technology.

For some reason when it gets to HR and gets to people, it stops. It just doesn't make sense. Technology, we know, in every other part of the business, improves the outcome and that's what it does. We know the technology, people analytics in the HR part absolutely improves the outcome. We’re well over 20 times far more than most of the technology you have in your operation side and sales and all of that. A lot of it is because we're all people, everybody thinks that they know other people. You know what? It doesn't work that way.

I can tell you we've had multiple occasions where someone has been working for a manager for two or three years and then we put them through our assessments and then when we’re doing the debrief on it, the manager will say, well that's not right. I just look at the person that’s on their system and I say, do you want to tell him or do you want me to? Every time, they’ll say that is me. I just don't behave like that in the workplace.

My biggest tip is to stop hiring on likes, stop using your gut. Use technology and start piloting, start trying different stuff. Even if you're using people analytics at the moment, keep piloting stuff. Always test it. See what else is out there because you don't know what you don't know.

Brendan: Well said, mate. It is quite fascinating that might be a business, they could spend $1 million on a bit of new technology or new machinery but they may not spend $1000 on a leadership course or some bit of analytics to help better understand the people and help them become better employees. Mate, thank you very much for that. How can our listeners get hold of you?

Mark: You can send an email, send it directly to me at, mark@peoplogica.com or call us here in the office. There’s a whole team that would love to have a chat with you. The number is 029-936-9000, or go to our website, which I'm sure that details will be there for that. At the end of the day, we just want every company to be doing it better. We will provide all your leaders access to our resource centre, which has a whole lot of fact sheets and tips and all of that.

Whether they want to use our direct services or not, we just want them to do it better. If they want access to all of that, just send us an email or give us a call, and we’ll connect them up to the team that hopefully, with at least that they can start heading in the right direction. Then when they're ready to be really serious about it or even if they're using assessments at the moment, just have a look at what's around. We have great deals on running pilots and it's a really cheap way to see how you can improve your business. Businesses are all about people. You get the people right, you're going to be far better off.

Brendan: Absolutely. We were going to put all of this stuff into the show notes and the links and all that sort of stuff so people will be able to access them with no problems. Thank you very much for that. That's fantastic. Again, anything that we can get out there to help other leaders, myself, and whoever when working with businesses is very handy. I have to be a testament to you, you're so generous with your time. You and I have had a number of conversations. We met through Bill Clifton when you’re up in Newcastle. Thanks, Bill, a fantastic guy as well.

I know, Mark, you're doing fantastic work with those guys. Thank you so much for today. I found this conversation absolutely fascinating. We’ve gone for a little bit longer than what I expected but I could have gone for so much longer. There are so many things—your mind, your experience, the work that you're doing is so helpful for businesses, helpful for leaders. You’re just a great bloke. Thank you very much for being a guest on The Culture of Things Podcast.

Mark: Thanks, Brendan. Really, thank you to everybody, all of your listeners. As I said, we’re here to help you. If you need any help, just contact us.

Brendan: Mark's experience in the people analytics space is first class. Everything he shares in our interview makes so much sense. It would be hard for any leader to argue why they wouldn’t use some of the tools available to help attract, select, and retain high-performing talent. As Mark said leadership is a mindset. The mindset of great leaders involves a focus on continuous improvement, which would lead them to improve on the traditional and underperforming recruitment process.

These were my three key takeaways from the conversation with Mark. My first key takeaway, recruitment is a process. As Mark explained there is a way to attract quality candidates, select quality candidates, and retain high-performing people. If you get good at the process and use some tools to help refine it, your chances of working with high performers increases dramatically. Don't treat recruitment as Russian roulette. Develop a recruitment process and follow it.

My second key takeaway, leaders are honest with themselves. If someone in their team isn't performing, they would look at themselves first. They will ask themselves questions like, have I given them an informant to shine? Have I coached them to improve their performance? Leaders have an obligation to do all they can to coach people to high performance. If it's not happening, they need to look at themselves first.

My third key takeaway, leaders treat candidates with respect. A candidate should never have to chase an employer to find out what's going on. Whether the candidate gets the job or not, they will tell people about their experience. If a person doesn't get the job, you want them to talk highly about the organisation, not dish it to all their friends. Real leaders treat all candidates with respect.

In summary, my three key takeaways were recruitment is a process, leaders are honest with themselves, and leaders treat candidates with respect.

I want to give a big shout-out to Alex and Jo from The Glen Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center. They’re both listeners of the podcast and have been using the information to support them on their leadership journey. They’re already fine community leaders, but like leaders know that we can always improve. Thanks, guys, I appreciate both of you.

You can find The Culture of Things on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Make sure you follow up high just to get our exclusive The Culture of Things content. If you have any questions or feedback about this episode, please feel free to send me a message at brendan@brendanrogers.com.au. Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Until next time.


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