Recruit Owners - Not Employees
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The three top issues that I seem to work with my executive clients on are
Effective Recruiting, Maximizing Production and Time Management. Today I’d like
to share some thoughts on how to better identify candidates that are more likely
to succeed in our business.
Have you ever brought someone on as an independent sales agent, only to have
them act like an employee? You told him he was an independent businessman. You
explained to her that there were no benefits. You made it clear that their
success depended on their own efforts. Yet, …
They begin to act as if someone else will be there to pick up the slack or
cover them when they act irresponsibly. They will be casual with funds. They
don’t file license renewal paperwork in a timely fashion. They don’t do what
they say they will do and then complain about their finances. You know the kind
I’m talking about.
Let’s discuss some ideas on how to better weed out candidates with an
"employee" mindset and more effectively identify candidates with an "owner"
mindset. What we’re talking about here is an art rather than a science. Clues
can be picked up from their past as well as through effective questioning.
Obviously, a red flag ought to go up when you hear certain "employee" types of
• What kind of benefits are provided? (after knowing that they would be a
"1099er") • What kind of hours would I be working? • Are there any paid
Usually we’re sensitive to the kinds of questions that are plainly
employee-oriented. But I find that in the absence of these blatantly
employee-oriented questions, many managers have difficulty in getting a clear
sense of whether their candidate has an entrepreneurial perspective. Keep in
mind that most candidates, naturally, will provide answers that they believe you
want to hear or that they think they should give. If you ask whether they’re
prepared to work whatever hours it takes to succeed, the answer will almost
always be "Yes". If you ask whether they have the self-discipline to be their
own boss, the answer will almost always be "Yes". If you ask whether they’d be
willing to work some evenings and weekends to succeed, the answer will almost
always be "Yes". Understand that while some people will feel differently but
give you the answer they think you want, many people truly don’t know themselves
well enough to give an honest answer about themselves. It’s up to you to read
between the lines and ask effective questions.
Using Their Background for Clues Clearly, many people who consider a sales
career come from a background of employment. Never having owned a business
before isn’t really an indication of their ability to succeed as an independent
business person. However, in looking over their history, there are several
things you can look for that can lead to clarifying questions:
• Have they stayed in jobs for extended periods? If they have, it may
demonstrate loyalty and perseverance. While these are good traits, the job
stability may also indicate a preference for employment rather than
independence. Asking good clarification questions (below) can uncover their true
• Have they changed jobs frequently? If they have, it can show instability,
poor self-discipline, and a tendency to have problems. On the other hand, it may
reflect frustration with the employment environment and a desire to be
self-directed and independent. Again, asking good clarification questions
(below) can help you decide which it is.
• Have they ever owned a business before? If they have, it demonstrates an
entrepreneurial spark. Of course the question remains as to what happened to
that business? Again, clarifying will help in evaluating its significance.
Clarifying Questions The facts surrounding someone’s past give us an idea of
where they’re coming from. However, their feelings and thoughts about their past
experiences can offer a better insight into their make up. Some questions will
be oriented towards clarifying past experiences and decisions; others are
directed towards revealing their entrepreneurial thinking capacity. As you
become proficient at questioning, you’ll be able to reveal a candidate’s
motivation for considering that specific career. You’ll make better recruiting
decisions and as a consequence have more time to devote to the candidates that
will succeed. Having more agents who are likely to succeed will lead to better
time management and faster growth.
About the Author
by Michael Beck, an Executive Coach and Strategist specializing in
employee engagement, executive development, and leadership
effectiveness. Connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mjbeck
and visit www.michaeljbeck.com
to learn more.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-12-09 12:06:19 in Employee Articles