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Building & Retaining a Strong Team: How to Attract and Recruit High Performing Internal Talent

In a session entitled “Building & Retaining a Strong Team: How to Attract and Recruit High Performing Internal Talent,” Lance Cooper, President of SalesManage Solutions, cited a cost of $60,000 plus for every sales employee a company loses.

He stressed the importance of making sure an employee is good for the role when hiring, “because relationships are everything, both internally and with customers.”

He added: “People are more important than profit. But profit is also important.”

Lance defined culture as a set of shared values and beliefs, habits and language. Leaders, he noted, shape cultures. When you fulfill a promise, Lance said, people trust you. However, he added, “when your potential employees see a hint of inauthenticity they are gone.”

Because of this, Lance said the first 90 days of the onboarding process are crucial. “You must be approachable, and employees must feel you are on their side. You must give them a sense of belonging.” Cooper stressed that employees are trying to find their identity in terms of who they are inside a company, how they are important and how they can make a difference.

If you think they are going to figure this out themselves, they are not, Lance said. 20 years ago, he added, nobody had coach or mentor on their business card but now you see it all the time. Top companies are now realizing mentoring is needed. Lance said that the young people of today need to learn to build strong relationships. In the Facebook generation, he added, somewhere along the way we have lost the ability to build these relationships. Anxiety, Lance said, has increased in the lives of younger individuals.

What does the current generation of people under 40 years of age want when they come to work for you?

A transformative experience, Lance said. Some companies understand this, he added, and are now delivering it. He identified such an experience as providing:

  • Acceptance
  • Purpose
  • Growth
  • Authenticity
  • Participation

According to Cooper, what they experience at work should matter to:
  • Their life
  • The lives of others
  • The world around them

To recruit and retain top talent, Lance said, you’ve got to increase the quality of the candidate pool. He recommends screening candidates in various ways and then profiling them with a validated profile.

In this regard, Lance said, “two interviews are better than one for statistics and candidate selection.” If one person in the company doesn’t like a candidate, in his view, you cannot hire them.

“People will move because they don’t like the culture,” he said. The three system areas he sees as needing focus to make culture better are:

  • Recruiting: They need to be right for the role.
  • Onboarding: How is it structured, is it structured, do they get that structure. Lot of pieces to it to get right.
  • Coaching: A coach doesn’t judge people, he or she just sees them as they are and helps them improve.

The attributes to recruit for are:
  • Character
  • Attitude
  • Motivation
  • Personality
  • Intelligence

Lance said that the last two of these are genetic and can’t be taught, while the first three represent the way a person sees the world and their values. Heart can overcome genetics, so on the profile, Lance said, you need to find a way to test heart. This comes from the first three traits which get at the ambition and moral component of a person. Find out what is their drive, and if they are competitive, Lance advised. Ambition and moral power drive a person’s ability to get where they want to go, he said.

Lance mentioned that, using sports as an example, you can have a player with great talent, but you couldn’t trust them in a game because of their poor character and lack of conscientiousness. This is reflected in the way they treat people other than themselves and their lack of emotional development. But if you’ve got drive and genetic talent, he said, you’ve got a superstar.

All of these traits need to be tested to make a good decision, he emphasized.

He identified four character traits that are non-negotiable in a new hire:

  • Honesty
  • Hard work
  • Personal responsibility
  • Concern for others

The personality traits Lance said he has discovered that work best for salespeople are:
  • Competitive
  • Highly detailed
  • Independent spirit
  • Self-promotion
  • Belief in others