Stop The Vanilla Blog

You Can’t Hire It If You First Don’t See It!


I recently met with a business leader that I have known for 15 years and typically when I see him he has incredible energy and passion for his business.  But this time it was different. He looked tired and down.  I asked him how he was doing and he said that he was burned out and wasn’t fired up about his business anymore. He went on to explain there was one core issue that was causing all this frustration and it was dealing with people issues.  If you have managed people at any point in your career you probably have had those days yourself.

You can minimize your people challenges by creating a talent plan that is tied to your vision. Often companies will hire one position at a time.  They hire one employee here, and another person there. With a simple two or three year vision for your company, you can develop a talent plan that defines exactly what skill sets you need and the order in which you should hire them.  Here is how you minimize people issues and make talent a competitive advantage for your organization:

  • With your planning team, define a selected point in time that you want the vision defined for your organization and/or department. For example, it could be 12/31/2018 (three years).
  • The vision statement should include subjective and financial components (vision template at
  • Subjective components include how you want your culture described; what products/services you are going to offer to what target markets in what geographic areas by 12/31/18.
  • The financial components include some items such as total sales, gross margin % and gross margin % by target markets by 12/31/18. The total sales of the organization impacts the number of team members you may need.
  • Once you determine your vision, have your team define the functional organizational structure that needs to be in place by 12/31/18. Use just functions to build the structure and consider no names or current people in the organization. Finalize the organizational structure that needs to be in place by 12/31/18 to achieve your vision. Remember that each function does equal a person. In smaller companies, one person could have their name in more than one function.

Once the structure is completed, you can now determine who has the skill sets and experience for each function in the structure. Once you complete filling out the structure with current talent you likely have talent decisions to make. Having completed this process hundreds of times, there are always functions that are unfilled and people that do not exactly fit into functions. Your talent plan gets started where you see these unfilled functions. You can now clearly define the functions and necessary skill sets that are needed and prioritize them. Simply stated, you now have your talent plan for the next three years to achieve your vision.

Next, you can put development plans in place for all individuals, based on what is needed to fulfill their functions and achieve the vision.

The benefits to having a talent plan to achieve your vision are numerous.

  • You have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. This minimizes the frustration and wasted time of constantly dealing with people issues.
  • You know what position to fill next as your financial performance allows for it.
  • If a position opens up for any reason, you already have a plan in place to fill it.
  • Skill set voids are highlighted, leading to action plans to fill those voids.
  • With a development plan in place for each employee, you increase the collective talent of your organization and as a result making it a competitive advantage.

Imagine having a three year talent plan for your company or department. A talent plan gives you the vision to proactively optimize and develop the talent in your organization.   It will reenergize you about your business or department.   It sets each team member up for success and helps you make the right hire each and every time.   You can’t hire it if you first can’t see it.   Remember: Those who plan, profit!

Getting The Candidate In Their Underwear


Do you dislike interviewing candidates for an open position? I know I did until I learned to do behavioral interviewing. With behavioral science, you know the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses even before you meet the person. Now, I enjoy interviewing because I am getting to the answer at hand, and that is whether the person is a good fit for the position.

We like to call it “getting the candidate in his underwear”.   A customized and candid interview to understand if this person is the best fit for the position. It is all good because it is in the best interest of both the candidate and the company to be the right fit. Not being behaviorally fit for the position is typically not a happy place to be.   And having a resume that looks like a job hopper is not good for the candidate.   For the company, considering that hiring costs is roughly three to five times the position’s annual salary, hiring the right person is critical to the bottom line.

The key to getting the candidate in their proverbial underwear is using behavioral science. Each candidate takes an online behavioral assessment. At SM Advisors, we are certified in and apply four behavioral sciences.  Can you imagine having 72 pages of content on each candidate and the customized interview questions you can create from it? You are able to tailor your questions to what you really need to know to make the right decision.   In many cases, it gives you more information about the candidate than he or she knows themselves.   Its’ science.

One of the first steps we recommend in behavioral interviewing is to look for transparency and honesty. You can do that by asking a question that you already know the answer to from the behavioral assessments.

It is important to remember that every candidate will have weaknesses in their style. The question is whether those weaknesses will impact a key requirement of the position. Any style can be in any position but all styles are more comfortable in certain positions.   The greatest level of success comes from matching your natural behavioral style to the position.

In behavioral interviewing you ask questions that the candidate has never heard before. You get what we call “Dog Ears”.   You know how when you talk to your dog he turns his head.   That is what the candidate does because they don’t have a pre-rehearsed answer to the question. Watching how they think through the question can be as equally important as to how they answer it. When you ask a unique question, you are more likely to get an honest, heartfelt answer.

Here’s an example: If you are interviewing someone for a leadership position and the candidate has a low dominance in their behavioral style, you would ask questions to see how they handle employee issues. So you could ask: “What was the toughest personnel situation that you ever dealt with and what did you learn from it?” Typically, someone with a lower dominance style will avoid conflict and consequently will let underperforming situations linger.

Every individual has strengths in their style that make him a better fit for certain positons. Your job as the hiring manager, leader or HR is to match the candidate’s style with the requirements of the position.

A process to make the right hire the first time looks like this:

1) Narrow down the list of candidates to the top three or four, based on their hard skills (education and experience on resume).

2) Have them take a behavioral assessment of your choice

3) Review their assessment results and create customized interview questions for each candidate.

4) Complete your interview and do not share the assessment results with the candidate.

5) Rank candidates based on hard skills, behavioral fit and their interview/cultural fit

6) Make an informed and confident hiring decision.

7) Use the assessment results to create a first year development plan for the candidate you select

Behavioral interviewing has been a breakthrough for many companies. Talent becomes part of your competitive advantage. Research shows that if you use one behavioral science, your chance of hiring the right candidate is 60-percent. If you use two sciences, that goes up to 80-percent. And if you use three behavioral science tools, the hiring success rate goes up to 94-percent. How many hiring decisions do you ever make with this level of confidence?

Behavioral science does not make decisions for you, but it does help you make more informed decisions. Which is your job! Turn interviewing from something that is a chore for you into something that is a strength of yours and your company.   Become an identifier, developer and retainer of talent.   Remember: Those who plan, profit!

Making The Right Hire Led To The Stanley Cup

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Are You Looking For Your Top Sales Producer?

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Make It a Great Year – Start Today!

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Hiring the Right Person the First Time – It Comes Down to Behavioral Science

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Wear the Right Hat

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