Finding and Keeping Talent That Fits in Your Organization
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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We are growing faster than we can add good talent to our team. We have developed a very positive culture where we care about one another. We believe in education and have clear processes for working with our clients.
Lately, though, the talent pool we’re seeing is lacking in these qualities. We have found a number of candidates with great credentials on paper, but when we speak with them they don’t seem to be a good fit for what we’re building.
We have relationships with a couple of local colleges – mostly focused on the graduate departments. We get financial experts who are seasoned. We have a good relationship with our primary custodian that knows about our needs.
What are we missing? Where are the people with the holistic skills we need? To us, it isn’t about financial acumen; that is the easiest part of the equation. It’s about the soft skills you write about.
The softer side is a bit harder to glean in an interview process. Your note came in on a day I was speaking with a long-time client about a candidate of theirs with a very similar concern. They liked the candidate. This person had excellent skills and a good background. But the concern was whether this person could integrate and be a holistic thinker rather than just an analyst.
There are two ways to get at this and increase your odds of finding someone who is a good cultural fit:
1. Behavioral questioning. Unfortunately, most interviews stick to the background, experience and data-gathering questions. This doesn’t allow the person’s style or cultural aspects to emerge. Asking behavioral questions forces someone to think about the “why?” underneath the “what.” Some of my favorites include:
- Describe the best boss you ever had in your career journey and why.
- Describe the worst boss you ever had and why.
- Describe the sort of culture wherein you have thrived, or believe you would thrive, and why.
- Describe the worst sort of culture for you, and why.
- When you have been faced with difficult decisions walk me through how exactly you decided what to do?
- How do your friends describe you? Colleagues? Is there a difference in their opinions and why?
- What is the hardest thing you have ever done in your life? Why?
There are, of course, many others but these will give you a good window into what the person is really like and how they describe themselves.
2. Complete a behavioral profile. I am a fan of the DISC/Driving Forces tool and I suggest adding the EQ component so you have a picture of the behavior, values and the person’s level of EQ. This gives you a lot of information in the form of strengths, areas for improvement, stressors, motivations and so on. At a minimum, the results will give you guidance on what additional questions to ask. You should not only run the profile but discuss the results with your candidate so they can see how they scored and dialogue with you on the findings. We’re not fans of just using the results to consider the person without talking about it with them.
It sounds like you are doing most of what you can to identify potential candidates. The only other thing I would suggest is general networking – your existing team members could be a great resource, or local groups or clubs where you can meet people interested in our field. I hear from many advisors they can’t find enough people who fit their mold so I know there are likely more roles than there are great candidates so you might need to spread the field you are searching within.
What are we doing wrong when we work so hard to bring in what appears to be a great candidate only to find, months later, they are not a fit for our culture? We have so much rigor in our hiring process and we get a number of people involved. We run tests on candidates, we put them through a rigorous presentation process, we check in with one another during the interviews to ensure we are covering the bases with the questions we ask. It’s so frustrating!
Unlike my other request above, you are managing the interview process very well. But what are you doing once someone comes onboard? Having rigor in your employee-onboarding process is just as important as having it in your hiring process. Many times, even in the smallest firms, a team member joins and it is assumed they will figure out the culture, the team dynamics (i.e. social awareness), the processes and the approaches. Leaving them to figure this out on their own leaves you open to many problems!
Set short- and longer-term goals. What do you want this person to learn and accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days? Where do you want them to be a year from now, what will success look like in their role? Who will be their guide and mentor? How will they know where to go to ask questions and understand cultural do’s and don’ts?
I’ve spoken with thousands of people over the years in firms large and small, and all too often I hear the same story. The candidate is well vetted and all appears well during the interview process. But it’s assumed they will roll into their role and all will be well. It seldom, if ever, happens this way.
Create a clear path, a set of measurements, and support along the way and check-in with the person to ensure they are growing and thriving as you would want them to. Don’t leave it to chance.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. The firm also founded and manages the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate and graduate students Entrepreneurship and Leading Teams. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.