Aaron Rector, a Director of Social Recruiting, was the guest on The Recruiting Animal Show on July 29, 2015. In case you don't know Aaron, he looks like Randy Fishkin and sounds like Jeremy Roberts. (I'm sure you know them well).
Anyway, my good friend, Maureen Sharib, says that I hate every show until I've listened to the recording. That's not always true but this one was in that territory. Near the end of the show, I complain that I'm running out of material and I scold poor Celinda Appleby for not helping me out since social recruiting - the topic of our discussion - is her specialty.
But, then, I listened to the show and although I saw all sorts of questions I had missed, I still came up with 25 clips so it couldn't have been that bad. In fact, some of the stuff I thought was particularly weak during the show were the parts I found most interesting the second time around. For instance, our strained conversation about Aaron's wedding video and the relationship of personal to professional posting on social media.
Aaron picked a song about a thug that I didn't like but I must say that he sang it himself and that was very unusual. Even more surprising was that Michael Cox joined in. He thought it was good music. Also on board were Alejandro and Blake Cannon.
My introduction was about an important issue in recruiting right now: first contact emails. In the recording, final line has a stutter that blanks out the meaning. I said, "The planners say that one careful shot is worth more than ten wild ones."
One day I was talking with one of our best engineers. Before the layoffs, he’d managed three engineers, but now he was a one-man department working very long hours.
I told John I hoped to hire some help for him soon. His response surprised me. “There’s no rush—I’m happier now,” he said. It turned out that the engineers we’d laid off weren’t spectacular—they were merely adequate.
John realized that he’d spent too much time riding herd on them and fixing their mistakes. “I’ve learned that I’d rather work by myself than with subpar performers,” he said.
The best thing you can do for employees is hire only “A” players to work alongside them. Excellent colleagues trump everything else.
I asked the CEO what the most important value for his company was. "Efficiency," he replied.
“OK,” I said. “Imagine that I work here, and it’s 2:58 PM. I’m playing an intense game of pool, and I’m winning. I estimate that I can finish the game in five minutes. We have a meeting at 3:00. Should I stay and win the game or cut it short for the meeting?”
“You should finish the game,” he insisted. I wasn’t surprised; like many tech start-ups, this was a casual place, where employees wore hoodies and brought pets to work, and that kind of casualness often extends to punctuality.
“Wait a second,” I said. “You told me that efficiency is your most important cultural value. It’s not efficient to keep coworkers waiting because of a pool game. Isn’t there a mismatch between the values you’re talking up and the behaviors you’re encouraging?”
It’s a particular problem at start-ups, where there’s a premium on casualness that can run counter to the high-performance ethos leaders want to create.
I often sit in on company meetings to get a sense of how people operate. I frequently see CEOs who are clearly winging it. They’re working from slides that were obviously put together an hour before.
Laura, our bookkeeper, was bright, hardworking, and creative. She’d been very important to our early growth, having devised a system for accurately tracking movie rentals so that we could pay the correct royalties.
But now, as a public company, we needed CPAs and other fully credentialed, deeply experienced accounting professionals—and Laura had only an associate’s degree from a community college.
Despite her work ethic, her track record, and the fact that we all really liked her, her skills were no longer adequate.
Laura reacted well: She was sad to be leaving but recognized that the generous severance package we were giving her would let her regroup, retrain, and find a new career path.
If we wanted only “A” players on our team, we had to be willing to let go of people whose skills no longer fit, no matter how valuable their contributions had once been.
Out of fairness to such people—and to help us overcome our discomfort with discharging them—we learned to offer rich severance packages.