“Delivering the budget” has got to be one of the most universally entrenched, uniquely counterproductive exercises in organizations across the world.
Some form of financial planning is, of course, necessary; companies have to keep track of the numbers. Butthe budgeting process, as it currently stands at most companies, does exactly what you’d never want.
It hides growth opportunities.
It promotes bad behavior—especially when market conditions change midstream and people still try to “make the number.”
It has an uncanny way of sucking the energy and fun out of an organization.
Why? Because most budgeting disconnects from reality. It’s a process that draws its authority from the mere fact that it’s institutionalized, as in “Well, that’s just the way it is done.”
Budgeting doesn’t have to be that way. But before we suggest a better approach, think about what’s wrong with the usual process.
It begins in the early fall when people in the field start the long slog of constructing the next year’s highly detailed financial plans to make their case to the company brass.
The goal of the people in the field is unstated, but laser-like—to come up with targets that they absolutely, positively think they can hit. After all, that’s how they’re rewarded. So they construct plans with layer upon layer of conservative thinking.
Meanwhile back at headquarters, executives are also preparing for the budget review, but with exactly the opposite agenda. They’re rewarded for big increases in sales and earnings, so they want targets that push the limits.
You know what happens next.
The two sides meet in a windowless room for a day-long wrestling match. The field makes the case that competition is brutal and the economy is tough, therefore earnings can increase, say, just 6 percent. The headquarters people look surprised and perhaps a bit irate; their view of the world calls for the team to deliver 14 percent.
Fast-forward to late in the day.
Despite the requisite groaning and grumbling, the budget number will be square in the middle—10 percent—and the meeting will end with smiles and handshakes. Only later, when both sides are alone, will they crow among themselves about how they managed to get the other side to exactly the targets they wanted.
What’s wrong with this picture?
First, what you see is an orchestrated compromise. More important is what you don’t see: a rich, expansive conversation about growth opportunities, especially high-risk ones.
That conversation is usually missing because of the wrong-headed reward system mentioned above. People in the field are paid to hit their targets. They get a stick in the eye (or worse) for missing them. So why in the world would they ever dream big? They won’t, unless a new reward system is in place.
What if bonuses were based, not on an internally negotiated number, but on real-world measures—how thebusiness performed compared with the previous year and how it compared to the competition?
With those kinds of metrics, watch out.
Suddenly, budgeting can change from a mind-numbing ritual to a wide-ranging, anything-goes dialogue between the field and headquarters about gutsy “what-if” market opportunities. And from those talks will spring growth scenarios that cannot be called budgets at all. They’re operating plans, filled with mutually agreed upon strategies and tactics to expand sales and earnings—not all of them sure bets.
Of course, operating plans are not merely wishing and fluff, lacking any financial framework. These budgets should always contain an upside number—the best-case scenario—and a number below which the business is not expected to go.
The main point, though, is that this range will be the result of a dialogue about market realities. And because they’re part of a conversation, operating plans can be flexible, changing during the year with market conditions if need be.
In fact, the only rigid thing about this form of budgeting is the core value it requires of an organization—trust.
Executives have to believe that people in the field are giving their all to achieve those big goals. People in the field must have total confidence that they won’t be punished for not reaching “stretch targets” and also be willing to make a flat-out, good-faith effort to deliver.
With that “contract,” the budget dynamic takes on a whole new life.
So don’t give up on budgeting yet. Maybe it’s just time to start a dialogue about changing the process.
A basic tenet within the world of WhiteSpaceis to only check one’s email at prescribed intervals. Technology is not making this discipline any easier. The old “Get Mail” feature has been replaced by the automatic, uncontrollable push of email on every device. Want to wait to see your new emails? You can’t anymore.
But there are ways to build this discipline… and we must. Without boundaries, email easily becomes a constant distraction, taking us away from deeper, more thoughtful work. When using email, we switch windows an average of 37 times per hour. When separated from email, we flip back-and-forth only 18 times in an hour.
In addition to improving concentration, scheduling checks at intervals also trains others not to expect a knee-jerk reply to every email, blissfully slowing down the email cadence all around you.
One Critical Omission
After years of telling folks only to check email at certain times, it became clear that many were missing a key definition upholding the entire practice. They did not understand the critical difference between checking and processing.
So let’s make that clear right now: Checking is when you walk out to your mailbox, collect the mail and rip it all open; processing is when you pour a cup of tea, grab your checkbook and work through the stack of mail before you.
Here are more literal definitions:
Checking Email:The action of collecting and opening new emails
Processing Email: Acting on and eliminating pre-existing email in your inbox
What you will quickly and sadly realize is that the processing part of the equation is the ugly stepsister at this ball.
Checking is a thrill, filled with possibility and that good old dopamine rush.
Processing is hard, tedious work, less exciting in every way than its sexy counterpart. There is a reason we tend to procrastinate with it. Dopamine, that happy chemical triggered when you complete a task, is sparked by the unpredictability and novelty of checking, not the humdrum cadence of processing.
A Counterintuitive Tip
So how can we check email only at certain times but still spend time in our inbox for processing? Like everything in the world of WhiteSpace, the perfect customized solution will be best designed by you—choosing from techniques that have been proven to help others.
The most core technique and the most counterintuitive, is to learn to pay less attention to bold emails at certain times. I know it seems crazy—almost impossible—but learning to control where we allow our attention to be directed can be a helpful technique.
Since we can’t eliminate push email, we must train ourselves to process through un-bold emails without getting pulled back into what’s new. It’s hard, but just play along with me.
Between times when you feel it would be strategic to check your emails, try to avert your eyes from new bold content. Scroll down to just below the line of the new bold emails and process away, clicking one by one through the un-bolded, older mail.
If something catches your eye and you feel like you must open it, go ahead. This is a very gentle practice, but over time you will see that by training your eyes away from the bolded section of your inbox, you reclaim quite a bit of control.
Remember that soon enough it will be check time, and then you can scratch that itch.
Between checks, it’s important to remove any unwanted pop-ups or notifications that will pull you back into new emails, moving toward zero notifications when possible.
Many times we are forced or purposefully choose to access new email between checks. Maybe you are interacting with your boss via email in a rhythm that can’t pause, or you are waiting for a conference.
At these times, simply open and use the search window of your email program. This way you can selectively access new emails for individual parties, while not getting pulled back into the entire barrage awaiting you. Some folks like to check for the names of their supervisors once per hour, just to relieve some concern, while staying away from the bulk of the new mail.
Processing email doesn’t have to feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill, but it takes time and discipline to develop and maintain those healthy, productive habits.
It may sound impossible, but I promise it’s doable, and it’s certainly worth trying. You’ll be amazed by how much hidden productivity you’ll find.
Juliet Funt (GLS 2017), a recognized consultant and speaker, founded WhiteSpace at Workwith a mission to unearth the potential of companies by unburdening their talent. A warrior against reactive busyness, Funt teaches a streamlined method for personal process improvement that reduces complexity in the workplace. Teams that incorporate WhiteSpace mindsets and skill sets increase creativity and engagement, reclaim lost capacity and execute at their finest.
It doesn’t take long to feel thoroughly inspired when listening to Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC’s The Profit, talk about business. He is a wealth of information and has a proven track record of success to back up every piece of advice he offers. It seems that this entrepreneur could whip a dying business into shape, even in his sleep.
If you have watched his show, you most likely have heard Lemonis stress the importance of knowing the numbers of your business.
According to him, failing to know your numbers inside and out is one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make. As a matter of fact, when it seems clear that a business is even a little unfamiliar with its numbers, Lemonis promptly tells them to figure them out, get those numbers clearly defined, and then come back to discuss business.
Lemonis firmly believes that the most overlooked skill of owning a business is basic accounting. If you are a business owner, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, I have a CFO and a full financial department to handle those matters,” then Lemonis would candidly say in return, “Nope, that doesn’t cut it.”
He preaches that business owners must know exactly how much they are earning, and if they don’t, then they simply don’t know their business at all.
What are these all-important numbers? And can you currently spit them out on command?
According to Marcus Lemonis, the following three numbers should be imprinted onto every business owner’s brain:
1) Annual Sales Revenue
Lemonis believes that if you are unsure of the exact number that your business is making right now, then you simply do not understand your business well enough. Business owners must base this number on a trailing 12 months and not the calendar.
2) Gross Profit Margins
Understanding this number is crucial because it represents the money left over from revenues after accounting for the cost of goods sold.
3) Expenses as a Percentage of Your Gross Profit
It is crucial for business owners to know where their spent dollars are going and to acknowledge whether or not these dollars are generating a profit. Your business expenses must be determined as a percentage of your gross profit, not simply as a percentage of your sales. Why? Because you pay your bills with gross profit, not with revenue.
These three numbers provide the foundation upon which every business decision must be based.
Can you immediately provide an accurate answer for these numbers?
If not, Lemonis would strongly advise you go back to the drawing board, clearly define these numbers, then proceed to talk business matters, both internally and externally.
Quoting Marcus Lemonis, “To not have a solid understanding of how much you make and how much you sell is a crime. To not understand how to make decisions based on numbers is a mistake. Too many people make their decisions based on their gut, but your financial statement is your road map to success.”
With many ventures on his resume, including the hit TV show, The Profit, Marcus Lemonis is the CEO of America’s #1 source for RVs and the largest organization of RV owners in the world. Lemonis lends his expertise to other entrepreneurs, using his evaluation system of three keys for business health and success: people, process and product.
There is a growing trend in organizations to apply a false formula when it comes to how they approach resource allocation. I call it the “just one person” logic, which implies that even if one person is helped through an initiative, it will have been worth it.
If you’ve found yourself falling into this trend, you need to:
Be aware of the trend
Recognize why the logic is faulty
Know how to respond
1) Be aware of the trend
The trend typically unfolds in this manner: During the budgeting process, someone will notice an unusually large dollar figure attached to a new or unproven initiative.
Churches will go so far as to say, “If only one person makes a decision for Christ, then every penny will have been worth it!”
The same reasoning pops up in other resource discussions too, such as:
If just one person hears about our company because of this marketing campaign…
Ifjust one person agrees to start supporting our cause…
Ifjust one person signs up for this program…
You get the idea. Put your radar on “full alert” when you start to hear “if just one person” language in your organization.
2) Recognize why the logic is faulty
In reality, there is a dangerous false economy at work with this reasoning. Suppose, for example, the line item is for $20,000, and it is being justified by the “if just one person” logic.
Could there be a more effective initiative that would use the same $20,000 but connect with 10 people? Or 20? Or 100?
3) Know how to respond
Those who toss the “if just one person” line into resource conversations often place a very high value on the importance of each individual who can be reached or impacted through the organization. That is a value worthy of respect.
The key is to respond with the equally important value of good stewardship. Have the courage to point out there is still a leadership responsibility at play that requires a maximum return on each dollar.
The stewardship value doesn’t negate the value of the individual; it simply places it into a proper context. Point out that the right to impact each individual is earned through the process of maximizing the return on each investment.
Maximizing resources is a vital leadership responsibility. Approach this role with wisdom, boldness and collaboration.
Scott Cochrane serves as the Vice President of International at Willow Creek Association | The Global Leadership Summit. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe, mentoring international teams. Prior to joining WCA, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia and provided leadership to WCA Canada.
What’s the secret to success? As leaders, we want to know how winning organizations achieve it and continue to remain on top.
We’re excited to announce that Rasmus Ankersen will be joining the 2018 GLS faculty to help us understand how successful organizations can continue to grow and remain successful. Take a look at the short video to learn more.
Do you remember the Nokia 3310? It was once recognized as the greatest phone ever produced. This was back in the days when people didn’t buy a mobile phone. They bought a Nokia.
But today the Nokia 3310 rests in peace in the gadget graveyard, and it’s become a reminder to all of us that it is much harder for a company to remain successful than it is to become successful.
Nokia went from owning 50% of the global market to 3% in less than 5 years. And when people try to explain how Nokia fell so far so fast, usually the iPhone takes the center stage.
But I don’t believe Apple killed Nokia. I believe that Nokia killed Nokia. Decades of success had created a complacent culture that blocked Nokia from reacting quickly enough, until it was too late.
And this is the point I’m trying to make: When companies become successful, they don’t fight just their competitors anymore. More than anything they fight themselves, and they fight human nature.
To beat human nature, you have to act counter-intuitively. So, when the results are better than ever, you have to ask increasingly skeptical questions. When no one thinks there is a need to change, it’s the right time to drive change.
When you’re number one in your industry, you have to act and think as if you’re number two. This is the paradoxical nature of creating Hunger in Paradise, and it is the single most important and most difficult management challenge for successful companies.
Rasmus Ankersen is an expert on performance development and a trusted advisor to businesses and athletes worldwide. He is chairman of FC Midtjylland in Denmark and director of Brentford FC in England, two of the world’s most innovative football clubs, recognized for using big data to drive decision-making. Ankersen’s recent book, Hunger in Paradise,tells how organizations can remain successful by eliminating complacency.
Yan Wang, the former CFO of VitalSmarts, didn’t survive Mao’s China by taking outlandish risks, such as questioning those in positions of authority. As our CFO, she did impeccable work with the highest ethical standards. But challenging the status quo was deeply unsettling to her—especially if it meant critiquing the actions of one of our company’s owners.
She was literally trembling one day when she suggested to my colleague Al that the few dollars he was bringing home from selling copies of our book at public events was hardly worth the time it took our accounting team to process them. She fumbled around the issue until Al said, “So, what are you suggesting I do, Yan?” She gulped an enormous amount of air and finally confessed, “It would be smarter to just give them away.” Al agreed. Yan was almost always right. It just took a while to figure out what her opinion was.
Fast-forward a decade. Our company had grown tenfold, and so had Yan. She had become the backbone of accountability in our company. No one, including major shareholders, was off-limits when it came to maintaining standards and creating a culture of good fiscal stewardship. Her team was at the forefront of identifying ways to maximize our margins.
Yan’s story is not uncommon. Our researchshows that 97% of people can readily identify a career-limiting habit they have. We’re unreliable, lack empathy, avoid conflict or fear risk. While we’re clear that our weaknesses cost us both personally and professionally, few of us make any progress in turning them into strengths. In fact, managers reportthat after giving people feedback in a performance review, fewer than 10% of them look any different a year later. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Like Yan, we can make substantial change in relatively short order.
The keys to improving most weaknesses are these 3 things:
1) Identify Crucial Moments
Chronic weaknesses are usually not due to simple cognitive or behavioral gaps in our abilities. When you’re sitting in your office with a daunting presentation to prepare, and you keep checking your inbox and returning calls instead, it isn’t because you are bad at prioritizing. Rather, you are playing out a deeply habitual and practiced response to feelings of anxiety, inadequacy or fear. Most of our bad habits have this same nature; more is going on than meets the eye.
The way to make progress is to identify the nature of the moments that provoke these ineffective responses. Pay attention to the times, places, social circumstances, moods, physiological states or risk perceptions that incite you to act in ways that lead to bad results. These are your crucial moments. The good news about crucial moments is that they shrink the size of your problem. Change seems daunting when you think it requires eternal vigilance. In fact, it’s usually about handling just a few minutes each day better than you have in the past.
Yan became aware that her crucial moment was when she felt a need to disagree with someone who had greater organizational power. She was pretty blunt with peers and direct reports, but speaking up to the owners of the company contradicted her every instinct. She felt encouraged when she realized that she didn’t struggle with candor in general—only in those specific circumstances.
2) Design Deliberate Practice
The Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson has shownthat our learning curve steepens the most when we engage in what he calls deliberate practice. These are brief episodes of intense focus where we practice a skill under relatively real conditions. If these intense practice episodes are coupled with immediate feedback, learning accelerates even more. Psychologist Albert Bandura refers to this as guided mastery and found that we can overcome profound emotional barriers to success if we engage in this kind of skill rehearsal, under circumstances with the right mix of safety and challenge.
Once you identify your crucial moments, do what Yan did: Identify moderately challenging situations where you can practice the target skill. For Yan, simply framing these occasions as “practice” lowered the stakes and increased her motivation to attempt them.
Following each attempt, she did a mental debrief, rating her effectiveness and stress level. Over time, she found the first rating went up and the second went down, which gave her a greater sense of competence and confidence for the next round. She was careful not to jump into the deep end of the pool on her first attempt.
Yan began by challenging business owners who were late in turning in their expenses. Later she addressed concerns about their spendthrift tendencies—something she felt even more anxiety about.
An important element of deliberate practice is the focus on a discrete skill. Yan studied up on skills for crucial conversations and decided to focus on one—creating safety.
She opened a conversation by making an overt reference to the common purpose she hoped she shared with the person she was confronting. In her first attempt, she found this gave her a sense of confidence by suggesting a script with which to begin. But her confidence grew even more when she saw how it put the other person at ease and reduced defensiveness.
3) Develop Emotional Competence
Be sure your plan includes the development of skills for managing the inevitable emotions that accompany confronting a weakness. Simply forcing yourself to attempt a terrifying or uncomfortable behavior is not a success in and of itself; provoking these unpleasant emotions will simply reinforce that this is an act to be avoided.
You must seek out tactics you can use to make the unpleasant act more pleasant or at least manageable. By doing so, you gradually retrain your brain to change its formula for predicting how you’ll feel in your crucial moments.
Yan found that her emotions calmed if she took a moment to clarify her motives prior to opening a crucial conversation with a more powerful person. Before scheduling the conversation, she paused, took a deep breath, and asked, “What do I really want?”
Historically, her desire was to avoid conflict with powerful people; but this conflicted with her deeper values. As she pondered what she really wanted, she connected with her desire to be a person of integrity and strength. This awareness helped her subordinate her fears to something more important—and quieted them significantly. It gave her a feeling of focus and determination.
One of my most cherished memories of Yan is the day she let me know that I had wronged her. She told me with great conviction that I had been unfair in the stock award she had been given, relative to others in the firm. She tactfully expressed her disappointment and laid out her case for a different calculation. I ultimately agreed with her argument. But more importantly, I was struck that the person who admonished me that way was markedly different from the one who trembled out a suggestion to Al just a few years earlier.
You can change your own career-limiting habit if you identify your own crucial moments, seek out brief and intentional opportunities for deliberate practice, and build skills in addressing emotional barriers to your progress.
Don’t let fear or inertia hold you back.
Joseph Grenny (GLS 2013, 2014) is a four-time best-selling author, keynote speaker and social scientist for business performance. His passion and expertise is human behavior and its impact on business performance and relationships. His work has been translated into 28 languages and has generated results for 300 of the Fortune 500 companies. Joseph is co-founder of VitalSmarts, an organization committed to teaching others how to change human behavior effectively. This article originally appeared on HBR.org.
Craig Groeschel is the founding pastor and senior leader of Life.Church,one of the largest churches in the United States. He’s also a Summit favorite. We are thrilled to welcome him back to the 2018 Global Leadership Summit faculty. Check out the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast to get a regular dose of his leadership wisdom. Below is sample of a recent episode.
How do we keep our teams highly motivated and engaged so they’re performing at their highest level?
There are few things more frustrating than working around a team member who seems unmotivated. And there are few things more exciting than working around a team member who is highly engaged and always bringing their best.
Let’s start with understanding motivation.
I believe so many leaders actually begin with a wrong assumption about motivation. People think, “He’s unmotivated” or “She’s unmotivated.”
What we have to recognize is this: People are not unmotivated. Everyone is motivated. They are just not motivated by the same things.
One individual might be motivated to invest what he has to multiply it. Another individual may be motivated to protect what he has. Still, another individual may be motivated to achieve and take risks to do new things, while her friend might be motivated to avoid new things so she does not fail.
Someone on your team may be motivated by winning.
Someone on your team may be motivated by being included.
Someone on your team may be motivated by making a difference.
Someone on your team may be motivated by growing personally.
Other people may be motivated by money, power, a sense of security or advancing in their career.
Everyone is motivated; we’re just motivated by different things. So if we start with that understanding, it can help us to better motivate those who are already motivated, by different things.
This is my definition of a leader’s perspective on motivation: the art of leading someone to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.
How do we, as leaders, motivate our teams? Avoid these two things:
1) Avoid Using Fear or Threats
It is almost impossible to work in a climate of fear. Fear may get short-term results, but once fear is removed, so is motivation. Over time, fear is always a de-motivator. Why? Because threats kill trust, and leadership cannot thrive where there is no trust.
2) Avoid Handing Out Candy or Promises
Often we use money in this way. However, money is not one of the greatest motivators. If you always need a reward from the outside, you will never recreate true motivation from the inside.
How do we motivate in a way that lasts?
1) Create a Culture of Appreciation
The single biggest reason why someone will leave an organization is because they don’t feel appreciated. If you want to motivate, then appreciate. Appreciate more than you think you should; then double it. Brag on your team to people close to them. Don’t just find what is wrong. Celebrate what’s right.
2) Model Motivation
You as a leader set the tone for your organization. John Wooden once said, “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” You always inspire more by your example than by your words. Rather than just focusing on motivating others, focus on motivating yourself.
WCA: What is it that makes culture so important to successful organizations?
William Vanderbloemen: Two-out-of-three Americans hate their job. I wondered, “What would happen if we could flip that so two-out-of-three Americans loved their job?” I believe the result is, you wouldn’t have trouble getting employees to work a little harder and stay a little longer.
Millennials are the largest workforce right now. Boomers grew up with a desire to work at Ford for 25 or 35 years, get the gold watch and retire with the pension. But that is so foreign from the script inside a Millennial’s head. They think, “I may do some of this for a while and then some of that for a while.”
Millennials have creativity and vision. But as Boomers leave and Millennials storm-surge the workforce, there is little competitive advantage in keeping someone for 35 years. Instead, the question will be, Can I build a workplace where Millennials will stay a couple of years longer than they would have otherwise?
When you add up the cost of hiring a new person after someone leaves—the loss of momentum and the hours you’ll spend training someone new—it’s a lot. If you can reduce turnover, then you will win in your business over the next 10-15 years.
WCA: How do great leaders assess if their own culture is a toxic environment or a healthy one?
Vanderbloemen: They can’t on their own. A leader once told me, “The first day you’re the CEO is the last day you hear the truth.”
As a CEO, you can’t count on the people who work for you to tell you what’s real. There’s a power imbalance. They feel the need to please the boss. If any CEO thinks their culture is great, but they don’t have some forensics to back it up, you can’t count on their opinion.
When we interviewed over 150 CEOs of companies who are also winning awards for their culture, we wanted to discover, “Are there some best practices?”
We found there are about eight areas of health or toxicity that need to be measured objectively. If you are a leader who wants to know if your culture is toxic or healthy, find a free assessment at https://info.vanderbloemen.com/culture-tool.
WCA: You say that great company cultures are marked by a commitment to innovation. How can leaders build innovation into their cultures?
Vanderbloemen: The companies that score poorly on innovation almost always score poorly on culture.
Recently, I was stretching after going for a jog. My youngest child, who was about three-years-old at the time, saw me struggling to touch my toes. She sat down next to me, tied herself into a human pretzel, stood up, laughed at me and then left the room. In that moment, it dawned on me that every day I’m alive, I become less flexible. That’s a biological truth, but it’s also a corporate truth.
The longer a leader has been in an organization and the longer an organization has been around, the higher the commitment has to be to ask the question, “How do we innovate?” Innovation is an active commitment.
GLN: What is the difference between an organization that is simply fun and an organization that has a healthy culture?
Vanderbloemen: The word fun should not be the synonym for culture. If we have fun, that’s a great byproduct. However, it’s just a fruit of a very different root. Too often, leaders equate fun with culture, so they try to build culture by giving away gifts to the top sales people at an organization or planning big parties where somebody ends up intoxicated, and something stupid happens. But that’s not culture. That’s just throwing money at events.
WCA: How do we celebrate our unique culture and enforce it in our organizations?
Vanderbloemen: If you find a book titled “The Quick and Easy Way to Building a Great Culture,” don’t buy it. I was talking with a pastor recently, and I asked him, “How long did it take to clarify your culture?” The pastor responded that it took them almost a full year. It’s a slow process.
In Culture Wins, we outline a process to take your unique culture and truly drive it throughout your organization. You have to keep it from just being words on a page. We’ve found ways to drive culture through every part of an employee’s life cycle with us.
WCA: One of your culture tips is, “Chemistry is seasonal.” Tell us more about that.
Vanderbloemen: When I was a younger leader, I thought I was hiring people who would stay with us their whole life, and we’d go through the whole run together. And if anybody left, it meant they were either disloyal or they didn’t like me. I really took it personally.
It’s taken us awhile to realize that some of our jobs are built for a person’s season of life. We have some jobs here that are great as your first job right out of college, but then you get married, have a baby, and you realize that particular role isn’t going to work anymore. And that’s ok!
Chemistry is seasonal because people are living organisms. Just because someone works for you and the chemistry is working doesn’t mean that one day, when they leave you, your culture isn’t healthy. Maybe it just means they’ve changed. Maybe they have an aging parent they need to help out. Maybe they’ve had triplets. Maybe they’ve gotten an MBA and you don’t have another spot up the ladder for them. That’s not bad. I think that liberates an entire workforce for everyone to hold things just a little more loosely. Whether you are in a business setting or a church, every job is interim work.
WCA: Why is it important for leaders to hire slowly?
Vanderbloemen: The number one mistake in staffing is that leaders tend to hire too quickly and fire too slowly. Hiring is an anxiety-ridden process. No matter how many times you hire, your anxiety level goes up when you’re hiring.
What ends up happening is you have leaders who hire someone they “know.” They think, “I have this friend who would be great at this.” Forget who you know. I’m all for hiring from within and building up your people. But, too many times, leaders wait too long to fill an open hole so they’re under the gun. Then they get really anxious about all of these unknowns, and they hire someone who makes them “feel good.” But we need to slow down, maybe even have a third set of eyes look at this, then measure twice and cut once.
WCA: What is the most important quality you look for in a candidate?
Vanderbloemen: There’s a growing need for agility. Uber is less than six years old, and the iPhone just turned ten, yet these are things we “can’t live without.” The need for rapid change and the ability to deal with rapid change is growing quickly. People by nature are becoming less willing to change every day they’re alive. As I’m interviewing, I’m looking for agility.
There’s also a growing need for self-awareness. Socrates’ one piece of advice was, “Know thyself.” We’ve interviewed tens of thousands of candidates, and if you are self-aware, you are in the top one percent. Self-awareness is far and away the quality I’m looking for. I ask direct and sometimes indirect questions, to figure out whether or not they realize what they’re doing.
In my two decades of management and leadership, I have probably hired dozens of people and participated in hundreds of interviews. Interviewing and hiring are necessary parts of leading any organization and two of the most important things we do in any given week.
I believe interviewing and hiring are much more like dating than I’d care to admit. And, if I’m being honest, I tend to “marry” interviewees far too quickly and for all the wrong reasons. I become infatuated by certain qualities and personality traits, whether they connect with the job I’m hiring for or not.
I’ve often bought into the lie that I’ll just know when I find the right person. Can you relate?
I look for the moment when I sit down to interview someone and the conversation flows, and we’re laughing and telling stories like two old friends from elementary school. Chances are, you’re going to hire someone you have that instant spark with.
Time after time, interview after interview, hire after hire, I find I’m guilty of unconscious bias in my hiring process. I hire the person I’ve fallen “in love” with rather than the person who is the best fit for the job. And far too often, the person I select is exactly like me. They look like me, talk like me, act like me and have a similar background to my own.
Because of my unconscious bias in hiring, not only do I begin building a team that looks and acts like me, I hire people who cannot take the organization any further than I can. And that leads to serious consequences like a stagnant organization, employee terminations that I don’t want to make and a negative impact on bottom-line measures.
In order to overcome these biases, we must take steps to ensure the process we’re working through is as objective as possible.
Use these four steps to establish a more objective hiring process:
Is there a job description in place? Is there a personality trait that would work best in this position? What are the specific skills, experiences, training and education required for this role?
If there’s a phone screening, in-person interview, written test and personality assessment for one candidate, be sure to use it for all of your candidates. Write out specific questions to ask all of the candidates for the position. Using a rubric (scoring the interviewees in certain areas) for hiring is the best way to keep personal biases from clouding your judgment, and it helps you achieve consistency in your practices.
Have trusted people handle an interview for you and give you their feedback. Call references from previous employers. At a minimum, share resumes and interview results with others, and dialogue with them to make sure you’re being as objective as you can be.
Don’t rush the process. And even when you think you’ve found the right person, take a day to think about it, and make sure you’re still as confident about the hire the next day. Often biases creep in, and bad hiring decisions are made when we feel like we’re rushed to fill a role.
Hiring the right person is vital to your organization’s health and success. We all have biases. However, if we work to overcome them, we will find the people we hire will be better, make a greater impact and work for us longer.
Tim Parsons serves as lead pastor at The Journey Church outside Indianapolis, a host site for the GLS. His passion is to help people lead better—at work and at home. Tim’s blog on leadership has been recognized as one “Christian leaders should be reading.” You can find him at www.timparsons.me where you can get his free e-book, Leadership For The Rest Of Us, or connect with him on Twitter: @_TimParsons_.
Last year, The Global Leadership Summit in South Africa captured a video to share Nthabiseng Legoete’s story. We are thrilled to welcome Legoete to the 2018 Global Leadership Summit Faculty as she shares the story of how she provides quality health care to thousands of individuals in need every day.
Watch the video below for a sneak peek into the remarkable story of how this visionary doctor is truly transforming lives.
Life is really hard for the typical resident of Diepsloot, South Africa, and inadequate healthcare compounds the problem.
Residents there do not have adequate access to even basic healthcare services, and there is a high prevalence of treatable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV. There are only two public health clinics, and they don’t have the necessary capacity to serve the people. To add insult to injury, the closest referral hospital from Diepsloot is nearly 40 kilometers away (approximately 25 miles).
I knew there was a need for an urgent intervention.
I’ve had the privilege to work as a doctor in both the private and public sectors. And I’ve had the privilege to understand the challenges of both.
I was faced with the inefficiencies and bad service that you receive in the public sector. My experience in the private sector was completely different; it ran like a well-oiled machine. It was well resourced, and it was efficient. However, it wasn’t accessible to everybody. The good healthcare service was only accessible to about 18% of South Africa’s population.
My life story thus far has therefore—in a big way—influenced and contributed to me opening QualiHealth with the urgency that I have.
On July 28, 2015, my uncle died. He had been ill for a month and was going to the clinic complaining of fatigue. All they gave him was vitamin B tablets. He eventually developed shortness of breath and contacted me. He lived quite far from me and by the time I intervened, he was at a stage where he was in quite bad heart failure. He needed ICU intervention, and subsequently he died.
The QualiHealth model is premised on three main pillars: affordability, convenience and quality. What ties all three of these pillars together is the use of technology. That’s what enables us to have affordable, convenient and high quality service.
Looking back to the girl I was from a small town called Spring, I’ve come a long way. I had dreams of just being a doctor, but now I’m also living the dream of impacting lives and making a difference for people.
Dr. Nthabiseng Legoete is a medical practitioner who is passionate about improving access to primary healthcare. Motivated by her faith and own family story, her vision is to make quality primary healthcare affordable for all global citizens in emerging markets. Legoete founded QualiHealth in Johannesburg, South Africa. Currently serving more than 600 patients a day at four facilities, in 2018 they are expected to grow to 30 facilities.