Values - not business practices - drive successful companies, says Richard Gallagher, author of "The Soul of an Organization: Understanding the Values That Drive Successful Corporate Cultures" (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2002). Hiring the right people is the most important step to achieving that success.
"Look at Southwest Airlines: They can turn around an airplane in no time with the help of flight attendants and pilots and their fanaticism toward teamwork," he says.
Southwest finds its hard-driving employees with some interesting recruitment and interviewing techniques. One group of pilot candidates was asked to change from suits to Bermuda shorts. The one who wouldn't change wasn't hired. "They knew he wouldn't be a fit," says Gallagher.
They also routinely ask their receptionist how she is treated when new prospects come in. Most decisions are based on human nature when decisions should be made on values that transcend human nature, Gallagher says.
"The vast majority of human resources professionals look at resumes to see what jobs prospects held and what degrees they have. That's human nature. We should hire on aptitude, not pedigree. Look for team-oriented people."
Gallagher 's tips for building top-performing sales teams:
Hire for skills, not aptitude.
Develop an assessment methodology. Some people talk a great game. Another person might not drop the right buzz-words.
We once had two applicants for a job, one was a PhD and the other was a former coal miner who became a programmer.
The PhD was average; the coal miner was skilled and intuitive. Use a team-based interview process and be sure to give tremendous leverage to the team.
Leverage the recruiting process. They are interviewing your company as much as you're interviewing them. See what their basic stance toward customers is. Do they look at customers as a pain in the neck, or do they have long relationships with customers? The worst thing you can do is have a formal retention program. If people are leaving, simply ask them, "Why?" Ask them what they want. You need to find a reason to make people feel important each time they walk in the door.