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Is Your Organization Optimized? 8 Questions to Ask Yourself

by Apr 27, 2011, 5:33 am ET

Our country has gone from conversations about how to recruit and retain quality employees in a market with low unemployment just a few short years ago to conversations about how to find a job in a market with record unemployment numbers.

What’s missing is the most important conversation, regardless of our economic situation.

No one is talking about what needs to be done by companies to optimize their organization with the highest number of “A” players possible. What percentage is possible? If done properly, 80-90%. In our current economic climate it is especially important to move away from mediocrity. The 80-20 rule, as it relates to sales, is just not acceptable if you truly want to be successful in today’s market. For those who aren’t familiar with the 80/20 rule, it says that 20% or your sales organization will produce 80% of your revenue. Is this really what you’re company is committed to? Have you considered the possibility of what your revenues would look like with 80-90% of your sales organization achieving quotas vs. 20-50%?

Optimization Checklist

These questions are just some that you need to be asking yourself. If you’re not asking these questions, you are headed for mediocrity or possibly even failure. 

  1. Have you calculated the costs of your hiring errors over the past two to five years? This is truly the only way to know how many millions of revenue dollars you’ve lost.
  2. Do you really know what type of people you’re looking for? Have you created a specific, measurable job spec using your current and past A players as the benchmark? Is the executive team aligned with regard to revenue and growth plans and how the sales organization directly helps to bring this revenue plan to fruition?
  3. Are you clear on your corporate culture, and have you put a process in place to assess candidate fit with your culture?
  4. Do you have a plan in place to assess your current employees and remove all your under-performers, as well as a timeline in which to complete this task?
  5. How are you finding candidates? If you employ an internal recruiting organization, are they posting ads on job boards or actively searching out quality candidates? Are you using contingent recruiting firms to find your candidates? Have you retained a firm for the search?
  6. Are you paying your internal recruiters at the same level you pay you’re top salespeople? If not, do you actually expect a 60-80k/yr recruiter to have the ability to find and attract a 300-400k/yr performer? If they had that ability, they’d be working for themselves, not for you.
  7. Do you have a plan to retain top talent?
  8. Have you created a list of questions, both open ended and closed, to qualify the competencies you require of your sales executives and management?

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Richard Melrose

    Carol, very well done.

    Even those who acknowledge the 80/20 rule often do not realize the full implications – i.e. individuals in the top 20% outperform individuals in the bottom 80% by 16:1, on average!

    Industry-leading job-matching assessments, such as the Profile XT, Profiles Sales Assessment and Customer Service Profile provide knowledge, information, insight and direction that enables employers to systematically address your question #’s 2, 3, 4, 7 & 8. There’s no better or faster way to start making well informed changes for the better.

    It’s amazing that the huge savings, earnings and growth potentials from such talent management initiatives receive so little management attention — especially since 97% of global CEOs put “access to, and retention of, key talent” at the top of their list of sources of competitive advantage in sustaining “growth over the long term”. (Ref: PwC 12th Annual Global CEO Survey).

    Richard Melrose
    r.melrose@vision21.us

  • Keith Halperin

    Thank you, Carol.
    “No one is talking about what needs to be done by companies to optimize their organization with the highest number of “A” players possible.” With respect, Lou Adler writes about this quite frequently.

    I think this presumes a basic entitlement mentality: “We’re a fantastic company, so we deserve the very best people, and they should be glad to come to us.”
    Well, most companies aren’t fantastic, they may or may not deserve the very best people (more about that in a moment), and in most cases, the best people aren’t going to come to them.

    Most hiring companies don’t have much that the best players want: they don’t pay the best, or have super benefits, a great potential, exceptionalQOL/work-life balance, OFFER A MULTI-YEAR EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT, or much of anything except empty marketing hype which they (but hardly anybody else) believes. What a company should start out doing is deciding what it really has and what it can offer, and tailor its expectations accordingly. (You may want a Lexus, but all you can afford is a Chevy.) If companies were open to 80th-90th percentile people, they could have their pick of hardworking, self-motivated, dependable folks who will be there to do what needs to be done.

    The other thing that companies should do is implement what I call “Robust Recruiting”- making your company’s operations, processes, and environment so efficient that you can make money without depending on a team of superstars.

    In summary: a little corporate humility and realism would likely do your recruiting effort a load of good.

    Cheers,

    Keith “Who Said You’re So Special” Halperin

  • Jim Strickland

    Another item to add to your optimization checklist would be;

    Are you optimizing/branding your company with as much Google visibilty as possible?

    Any firm that wants a “local” presence to attract candidates can still take advantage of the new “Google Places” that allows FREE visibility for your company in the SERPs when a candidate is searching for job positions locally.

    These free Google listings offer an excellent opportunity for marketing your agency/company locally. I recently wrote an article about this.

    http://wilmingtonlocalmobile.com/recruitment-in-2011/

  • http://www.verticalelevation.com Carol Schultz

    @Richard: Thanks for the input. My partner and I frequently discuss your point about talent and it’s importance to the C level. When we receive negative comments it’s usually something like “We love what you’re doing, but just don’t have the time to deal with it.” Our focus has been, and continues to be, companies who get the value of taking a proactive rather than reactive approach. That’s where change truly occurs.

    @Keith: Entitlement throughout our country is a big problem. Unless and until we “get” that we’re not entitled to anything, but have to work for what we earn nothing will change.

    @Jim: Branding is definitely something I cover with companies. I neglected to include it as a line item in my post. Your suggestion about “Google Places” is a good one. Thanks for the input.

  • Keith Halperin

    @Carol: Thanks. A couple of things :
    1) How can you get a hiring manager to work for getting a better candidates.

    2) I’m going to go a bit further- we (aka: hiring managers, recruiters, and thir bosses) need to not only learn to work for what we want but to accept the fact that there are some things that (no matter how much/hard/smart we work, hope, visualize) we will NEVER HAVE.

    Cheers

    Keith “Grateful for What I Have” Halperin

  • http://www.verticalelevation.com Carol Schultz

    @Keith: Your question about how to get hiring managers to work to get better candidates is a complex question. This is something we deal with often, and I saw it in 16 yrs of my search practice. I’m not avoiding the question, but it’s too involved to write down in this domain. I will say that you must begin by asking questions of the hiring manager to see what, if any, flexibility they have in determining who they hire…

  • Keith Halperin

    Exactly, Carol. I find that many problems can be eliminated or minimized by asking the right questions up front.

    Cheers,

    Keith