We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.

John Dewey

You or your team hired someone who failed. They may not have had the skills, character, personality, or perspective that the position required.

Hello I’m a title

It’s easy to write the failure off completely to the candidate, setting yourself up to make your mistakes over again.

But great companies don’t make mistakes repetitively. And if we really believe that our people are our greatest asset, a failed hiring process is a big deal. We must not squander those lessons!

Imagine how much more effective your company is if its turnover rate is 1 in 4 hires versus a competitor who may have an average 1 in 2 turnover rate! Over time, that’s a massive difference in energy allocation that is better spent on securing new business and improving product quality.

Companies who build teams better tend to grow at greater sustainable and healthy stress levels. A quick learning pace is key.

H2 heading: LET’S GET THE EXCUSES OUT OF THE WAY

Often the unproductive internal conversation sounds like…
“They didn’t tell us about that in the interview.”
“Their performance was lackluster.”
“They required too much hand-holding.”
“They didn’t fit our culture.”
“They didn’t do the job properly.”
Etc, etc, etc…
Does your team abdicate ownership to the failed employee, and thus fail to learn for the next hire?
When a teammate fails, does the team look retrospectively at the ways it may have failed its teammate? Communication? Training? Encouragement? Accountability?

H3 Heading: STEPS TO ACQUIRING ACTIONABLE INSIGHT

Conduct separate manager and employee exit interviews by a non-biased party. They can be internal or external. Ambassador Search Group can conduct these for you at a nominal charge if you like.
Review both exit interviews sequentially to recognize differences in perceptions and experience. It’s important to ask the same questions for comparable results.
For managers who know how the exit interview will be used, this puts pressure on them to account for the employee’s perspective. Otherwise, they will be seen to be clearly out of touch. Accountability without blame is healthy.

H4 heading: QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELVES

Bullet list:

Numbered list:

  1. What did we fail to understand in the interview?
  2. What expectations did we not set clearly enough and achieve mutual understanding on? Setting and saying expectations is not the same thing.
  3. What skills did we not validate well enough? Asking about skills and seeing them borne out in answers to behavioral questions or sample problems is not the same thing.
  4. How could our culture value and expectations been made more clear?

Companies who quickly and cheerfully diagnose and change based on hiring lessons learned have a serious cultural and team-building competitive advantage.

The greatest improvement in 2022 we see for our clients is to invest heavily to scale leadership impact by hiring, developing, and retaining leaders who can perpetuate the company vision at a larger sustainable scale. Make middle management great again!

There’s no lack of work out there. There’s a serious lack of engaged talent. Leadership is the solution. The vision, alignment, accountability, and mentorship is what defines special companies. Companies that are fun to work in and make solid sustainable profits.

The average company owner starts a company, gets work, and grows because of that work. Many will never realize they are not in the X widget-making business, they are in the leader-making business. Many “leaders” are actually the “technicians” referred to in the great book E-Myth. More doers than leaders.

Sure, they can tell people what to do. Sure, they can feel like they are in charge. But they cannot lead through layers of leadership without losing their company mission if there clearly was one. They cannot protect their company culture and core values in growth. Their people see little morale good in their work. It’s a means to an end for everyone. Money.

For those at the top, leadership development means starting with yourself. This means aggressive accountability for your own faults and weaknesses. Some of those weaknesses are simply the other side of a strength. Some are blindspots. They are costing you time, money, and happiness.

As a leader, you are NOT the total solution to solving all your company’s problems. If you think you are, you will build a company that requires exhausting micromanagement, fails to retain developing leaders, and experience less joy at work.

This is how I watched my father run his business for 20 years. 20 years of grind. Brutal. It’s no fun, even if you can work hard enough to make it work-ish.

You ARE the people developer. You are the human investor. You are looking for a good return on your mentorship. You are helping other people go further in their career/life/development than they thought they could. You are an encourager, an advisor, a help, an asset, and a trainer.

You are building a team of people that can accomplish FAR more than you ever could.

The tyranny of the urgent will hamper you. Fires always need to be put out. Reading books, hiring coaches, mentoring leaders can always be pushed off.

“I have work to do.”

Leadership is your work.

Some leaders run around telling the time. Some leaders build the clock. Are you a watchmaker or a timepiece?

Step back. See the whole picture. Elevate others. Don’t take easy ‘I’ll do it myself’ shortcuts to productivity. You have to stay on the sidelines, in a sense.

Turn your org chart upside down. You are the chief enabler. Your customer-facing people are the most important people in the company.

Are you doing enough for them?

PRACTICAL STEPS

Leadership only develops when one realizes how much more a lack of leadership will cost.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

— Richard Branson

You cannot solve all your company’s problems but you can hire all the right people to solve them and then your company will be successful.

ACCURIZE YOUR HIRING

1. Understand your expectations and communicate them in the hiring process. Build organizational key performance indicators (KPIs) for roles, teams, managers, and the company. Don’t hire someone unless you understand how their past teams have understood ‘success’, how they do, and how your team understands ‘success’. It’s different in each company.

DO NOT HIRE THEM UNLESS YOU CAN COMMUNICATE WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL. Otherwise, it’s your fault when you fire them or they quit.

2. Remove muddy interview subjectivity with a disciplined process. If four people interview a candidate, you should not get four different answers on hiring them. Each interviewer should understand the criteria candidates are being evaluated against.

A conversation about KPIs past and future are helpful here. Personality assessments can also provide useful insight to develop specific and nuanced interview questions to understand this person relative to the responsibilities and team you may give them.

3. Develop real relationships through the interview process. This means interviewing them in different places, for different durations, with different people, all while asking different questions driven by assessments, company culture, KPIs, and understanding what the candidate believes ‘success’ is.

Some hiring authorities have an immense advantage because their relationship-building skills attract the candidate while providing useful insight on the candidate. Caring about the candidate as a unique and valuable person, regardless of if they get the job, is practically cheating. So cheat away.

4. Hire candidates whose natural inclinations, values, and ambition align with those of your company. If you are sure you can provide a work ecosystem where the candidate can feel accomplished, it is time to make a competitive offer.

It may not matter that they were successful before if you do not share values.

5. Do not haggle on compensation. You will reap what you sow. Ask the candidate about their expectations early and decide if you can give them what they are asking through the interview process. Do not negotiate before developing their respect and trust.

There are many variables in hiring situations and the most important constant is transparency and fairness. Do not ruin a good process with a cheap offer as if you are bartering at a garage sale. Good offers well delivered create loyalty. Loyalty starts with demonstrating your care for their success.

Good hiring is relationship building, engenders mutual respect, objective, disciplined, transparent and fair.

“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”

— Steve Jobs

WE CAN ALL GROW

If you want to hire an experienced recruiter who cares about the proper process for better results, we should talk about how Ambassador Search Group may serve you. We look for thoughtful companies who care about people.

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”

– Simon Sinek

Employee retention rates are not only in the best interest of the company but the employees as well. It is in everyone’s best interest to have a reason to keep a good job for an extended time. 

i.e., compounding rates of return. 

As business evolves and progresses, it seems the traditional, department-wide, or company-wide compensation packages are outdated. Now, companies are exploring the benefits of unique compensation packages tailored to each employee. 

Of course, this comes with its own set of difficulties, but here’s how it’s done: 

WANT BETTER RETENTION? ASK THE EMPLOYEE HOW THEY WANT TO BE RETAINED

Compensation is a staple of the interview process, at least for the employee. Everyone wants to know that their company appreciates them before they even accept the offer and begin working. 

It’s how you bring up the package that can change the narrative and attract more employees that want the job for the job.

Start by asking the person how they want to be retained. Give them the floor to tell you what they expect from their compensation package. 

Beginning with a question forces the projected employee to switch gears a bit. Now, you two are having a genuine conversation, one where you strategically develop a compensation package tailored to their wants and needs as well as the company. 

In turn, you get to know your employee a little more, and you’ve also created a package they are likely to remember and appreciate. 

On how NOT to do it.

I was just asked “How should we digitize tracking employee engagement to reduce the management burden?”

There is a dangerously flawed assumption in this question that engagement can be digitized.

Measuring employee engagement cannot be boiled down to a simple equation based engagement metric. Employees must be actively engaged by their managers in order to assess engagement because people are enormously complicated. Reducing engagement to a numerical metric is overly simplistic like reducing friendships to a 1-10 score. It is impersonal and unfriendly. Each employee must be uniquely addressed and managed.

Quality management is not scalable through technology but only through a managerial cascade down the ranks with demonstrated proper listening, learning, and leadership, reaching every rung on the corporate ladder. 

Consistent 90-day reviews where employees are encouraged to voice their concerns and frustrations, which are heard and consequently acted on or more properly informed, will lead to an ‘engaged’ workforce who exerts their intellectual willpower to the company’s problems.

In short, when standards of quality management are baked into the company culture, the engagement problem will solve itself.

Not everyone shares the same priorities or values for their work environment.

“I really dislike the hiring managers that did not disclose the known toxicity of their hazardous workplaces to me.”

― Steven Magee

Most companys struggle to describe culture because they don’t trust their perspective. They know they have a bias, especially in great companies.

Additionally, what leaders feel the culture is may not be the same as employees.

Culture must be felt, but it’s not enough to be felt by the staff. People need to see it presented by executives as well.

If upper management and leaders throughout the organization aren’t readily available, the culture and eventually the brand will suffer. 

WHAT’S THE ISSUE?

Building a great culture requires constant nurturing. People have their needs, and the more people you have in a group, the more needs there are to be met. To successfully create an authentic workplace culture, each employee has to enjoy coming to work. They need to feel validated, engaged, challenged, supported, etc. 

As a leader in the company, the gaps or miscommunications in desired company culture ultimately fall back on you. There’s no doubt the stress this causes, but it’s on you at the end of the day. 

Often, candidates go through the hiring process with their own idea of what the job will be like, regardless of how detailed you describe the position and the desired workplace culture. It becomes essentially impossible to detect if the person is an authentic fit for the company based on a few mere conversations. 

Maybe you’re not the one doing the hiring at all. Maybe you are an executive noticing that one of your directors continues to hire people who don’t match the company culture. These people then blame upper management or the brand entirely for their unhappiness when they probably shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. 

How do you come back from this? How do you navigate these pitfalls in an effective manner that continues to display company culture in action?

Fortunately, there are hacks to help anyone improve their workplace culture. 

TIPS FOR CREATING AND MAINTAINING AUTHENTIC CULTURE THAT CAN BE FELT

According to Entrepreneur, Zappos asks all potential employees to complete a “cultural fit interview.” Here is where the company asks the person different questions that pertain some way to their morals and intended culture. The person’s responses give the interviewer insight into their business morals and whether or not they would enhance their company environment. This interview holds half the weight of the entire hiring process. 

They also offer new employees $2,000 to quit after their first week if they aren’t sure this is the perfect job for them. This kind of incentive almost ensures they will find the right candidates to complement their (already outstanding) company culture. 

Here are a few tips to help make your company’s culture not only translatable but manageable. 

  1. Put Trust in Your Staff
    1. Employees who feel independent in their work will grow more, leading to company growth. 
  2. Budget For It
    1. Many companies now include culture in their monthly budget because although culture isn’t about “things,” sometimes it takes money to create memories that last. 
  3. Promotions
    1. Give promotions only for increased capability rather than office politics. 
  4. Have You Tried Going Flat?
    1. Flat organizations have little to no levels in management. Everyone is perceived to be on the same playing field. However, this doesn’t tend to work as well for larger corporations with lots of staff members.

A company is only as unique as the workplace culture that created it. At the end of the day, no one can really tell you how to create an authentic company culture because it wouldn’t be authentic. However, these tips can definitely help guide you along the way. 

One thing I’m noticing and watching closely is a growing relational disconnect between employers and employees. This is apparent in the prevailing viral LI posts, media, and our personal experiences here at ASG.

We believe there is something here for all of us to learn from. We also believe this is intrinsically related to the overall leadership quotient in America.

Employees often fail to understand what employers value and perceive as high-performance. Their view is often myopic, considering too much their own interests and not those they work for.

Employers often fail to understand the importance quality employees place on their goals and personal growth. They can treat people as relatively expendable and utilitarian, forgoing the value of personal connection as if work is only about professional performance. Instead of being a mentor, they are a boss.

To be successful as either an employer or employee, you have to care about people, and properly at that. This is a never-ending learning process. It’s complicated, messy, and often exhausting. To be clear, there are MANY fair objections to this broad idea of ‘caring about people’.

To understand more about what I mean about ‘caring about people’ consider reading the book “Love & Profit.” The distillation is that caring about people is entirely connected to holding them accountable, even to the point of letting them go.

I’m willing to say that to lead people well, you must care about them.

Success in the workplace, more than ever it seems, is directly connected to people skills no matter where on the org chart one works. Those that can embrace a mindset of winning and losing together can build or participate in great teams. But there is a growing contingent of the workforce and company leaders who fail to understand how important the other is. Corporate layoffs to prop up short-term stock prices on one hand and mercenary job-hopping on the other. Each is out for their own, to the collective long-term detriment.

We have no lack of books on leadership but are we, Americans, losing our grip on what real leadership and teamwork is in the real world? It’s a big deal. Wars are won and lost on leadership quotient.

“The fish rots from the head”

-ancient proverb

It’s not hard to see other failures of leadership. Our politicians obviously and the increasingly polarized positions, many of our hallowed institutions are constantly rocked by scandals, crony capitalism abounds, and a general decrease in the trust we can afford to place in one another. These are connected.

Leadership is the solution. Turn the org chart upside down.

To those struggling to be better leaders at any level, we salute you.

In Keith Ferazzi’s Never Eat Alone, he speaks immensely on the importance of growing your network and how to do it to grow your career, brand, or company. His knowledge and tips apply at the managerial scale as well. Every great manager is a multi-faceted creature but would be nothing without the collective efforts of their subordinates. Managers should be constantly be checking in and looking to help their employees

IT’S RELATIONSHIP BUILDING, NOT NETWORKING

Every interaction with an employee or team member is an opportunity to check-in and take a pulse. In his book, Ferazzi mentions that his connecting with the outside world is based on generosity. He loves connecting people, friends with other friends. He quickly discovered that by doing so, he was associated with friends of friends as well. Before he knew it, the small-town boy paved his way to earning a scholarship at Yale and a Harvard MBA. 

He emphasizes the importance of establishing genuine relationships rather than the surface-level, desperate and forgetful connections associated with “networking.” 

He took his natural knack for connecting people and converted his skills into digestible principles, some of which include: 

These principles easily relate to the executive branch of connecting with employees as well. 

BUILDING CONNECTIONS WITHIN THE COMPANY MOTIVATES PEOPLE TO DO THEIR BEST

Companies and managers of all levels that regularly take the time to have company-wide check-ins – such as lunches, parties, or even formal meetings – tend to do a lot better within the company and as a company. Research done by Humanize confirms this to be true because the managers and employees find out what’s going on in the business. 


Managers can do these regular check-ins on a smaller scale as well. An excellent department head will check in with each team member individually and the team as a whole. Checking in is different than checking up, mind you. 

Rather than seeing if employees have finished a specific task or monitoring how they accomplish their tasks, try changing the narrative. 

Try asking questions like: 

Simple rephrasing can make employees feel seen, heard, and cared for rather than judged and undervalued. 

Meet them halfway too. Don’t be afraid to share with them what you are doing and how you plan to tackle your obstacles, especially when it’s relevant to what the rest of the team is working on.  

All great managerial connections are two-way streets. They build lasting workplace relationships based on mutual respect, patience, understanding, and listening, as all great relationships do. 

There is a cultural/media reaction going on to the concept of boss vs leader. You see a lot of memes and pithy quotes on the difference.

Some have this idea that leadership can be a process of entirely positive reinforcement, devoid of hard accountability, and that is sadly mistaken.

The point here is that leaders should lead from the front, whatever that means to them. There’s something about many of these memes which represent employees as victims of their managers which is horribly dystopian. That perspective won’t lend to many good work relationships.

Management is presented as top-down and heavy-handed while leadership is relational and inspirational. Often it is presented on LinkedIn simplisticly. Real management is extremely complicated because it is human to human and multifaceted uniquely to each person.

Here’s a more nuanced (and helpful) example:

But I digress, simplistic principals can be true too.

As in all stereotypes, there is some degree of truth to this dichotomy. Managers who don’t care about people are not great managers. Leaders who take all the credit are selfish and insecure. You can further simplify; morale failures do not make good leadership.

However, there is a variable to this people-relationship equation that doesn’t get so much attention. Too much of this leadership/management effectiveness conversation is narrowly placed on the leader as if leadership happens in a vacuum. It’s like evaluating fine Mont Blanc pens for writing on tissue paper. It’s never going to be good. The medium matters too. Those being led matter a great deal.

Some people won’t be inspired. Some people won’t be gently led. Some are stubborn, proud, and difficult. They may even be a high-performer in a certain aspect of their job but incorrigible elsewhere. What do you do then? How are you supposed to inspire those who can’t be bothered to take their career seriously? Point is, there are issues with some people that are more deeply fundamental than a boss can responsibly invest in. Each must decide where that line is for themselves.

This is where leadership or management, whatever you want to call it, turns more into a chess match than cooperation. The process of aligning them with the organization turns more into leveraging them into alignment. It’s painful work. Pounding square pegs in round holes often hurts the peg and the hand.

The easy and right answer is to let those people go. But what do you do in a market like this where finding replacements, much less someone with the right attitude, is particularly challenging. So you bear with them.

It’s important to recognize at this stage that they are keeping their job out of your lack of options, not their performance.

What’s the solution? Develop options for one. This is a great motivator behind investing in a robust network to hire from as a guard against being held hostage by underperforming employees.

Frankly, I see a lot of leaders being taken advantage of by employees who simply refuse to care about their work. That’s one of the great drivers behind the recruiting demand, find people who care. These leaders nobly blame themselves for the wrong problem though.

A failure to quickly hold underperformers accountable and firing those who resist will be forever taken advantage of. Work leadership just cannot solve some people’s fundamental issues that creep over to work from a personal perspective. I stress, sometimes it can, but often it cannot. Judge wisely.

When you find people who care, leading them with care is extraordinarily easy.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of compassionate leadership and condemn immoral management techniques, and I also propose we keep in mind that those being led have a big say in how things go too.

The main difference between the two is that leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focuses on maintaining systems and processes.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

If you’re not proactively managing your online reputation, someone else is. In 2021, it is impossible to grow and succeed as a company with a bad online reputation. For those that aren’t actively online expressing their culture and values, the story gets told for you by unhappy employees and customers. Below is the full scoop on why online reputations are so important and how to maintain a positive one no matter what. 

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION 

Typically, before a potential employee even applies for a job, they will look online for job reviews. There are unfortunate statistics out there that can devastate company reputations. According to Social Media Today, 92% of consumers read online reviews to learn more about a company. 

Inc.com also states that of all company reviews, 10% of employees will lie about the company in their Google, Facebook, or Glassdoor reviews. 

Thankfully, this is a small percentage of a company’s overall reviews, and most people don’t set out to directly hurt a brand or company they previously worked for. 

There are also ways the company can actively combat these types of reviews to maintain a positive and honest representation of themselves online. One avenue to take is to develop AI with a detailed human element to sweep for negativity and help create a more positive environment. 

Working with AI can be expensive and risky because the public can easily spot the difference between actual human reviews and bot reviews. 

HERE’S HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION

There are many ways you can impact your online reputation without the use of AI. You have to be confident in your culture and values as a company. If you’re not, work on that first! 

Then, follow these steps to ensure you always receive truthful feedback that helps your company’s online reputation:

  1. Ask positive employees but never ask for positive feedback!

You want your reviews to be as organic as possible. If you ask your employees to leave positive feedback specifically, they will undoubtedly become suspicious and potentially resentful. 

Instead, be present on the floor. Get to know your employees as personally as possible. Those that love their job will stick out. Ask those employees to leave an honest review of their experience with the company but leave the choice up to them.

Those that aren’t happy with their job work on their happiness first and foremost. Get to the root of the problem. Show you care and want to make sure their experience with the company is a positive one. 

2. Strategically time when you ask for employee reviews.

Timing your reviews requests around optimistic company and employee milestones is paramount. Positivity is contagious. Use those positive moments to your advantage. 

Here are a few examples: 

Try not to go overboard with a flood of positive reviews all at once, though. Algorithms are inclined to flag positive feedback floods as suspicious. The most important thing is to monitor the ongoing changes in the company’s reputation and respond naturally. Stakeholders realize you are human, and sometimes reputations fluctuate. If yours is overly optimistic, this too can come back to bite you. 

3. Be sure to respond to negative reviews.

Entrepreneur states that when a stakeholder first hears about a brand or company, they almost always resort to Google for more information. Potential customers, employees, investors, and partners all do this. 

It’s common knowledge that you can’t always please everybody. Negative reviews aren’t necessarily life or death for a company, but how the company responds to those reviews can be. Potential stakeholders want to see how the company handles inevitable negativity. 

Communication is critical, especially in adverse situations. 

Your online reputation is the lifeblood of your company. Invest in it organically, and you’ll be pleased with the outcome.