This article ran in INC. Magazine on January 9, 2019.
By Adam Wright, president, CEO and co-founder of Associated Graphics (AGI)
You launch a new company. You and your original team are filled with excitement and a fierce desire to make it succeed. You’ll work extra-long hours in order to get it off the ground and love every second of the process.
But as the company grows and the team expands, it can be a challenge to impart that passion onto new employees. You can’t always expect brand-new people to have the same love for the company that you, as the founder, have for the business. It’s your baby; for them, it’s a job. The trick is to make sure to bring on workers who fit your company’s specific mold and personality.
1. Use keywords to attract the right people.
As a former race car driver, I learned to be competitive from a young age. I needed that ambitious mentality in order to promote my brand. I had to convince advertisers to invest in me as opposed to another driver. I brought that same competitive spirit to Associated Graphics and look for it in new employees.
In making sure we hire people with that same drive, it all begins with the wording in the job ad. We almost try to scare away people who are not competitive by nature, and it works vice versa as well, as we are hoping to attract people who enjoy a fast-paced environment.
For example, in a recent job posting for a national account manager position, we emphasized our reputation as one of the best in the industry. This helps to explain the high expectations that are set for our team members. We used phrases such as “goal-driven,” “success-oriented” and “fast-paced” to describe the environment. Being as specific as possible in the job posting will help to weed out unqualified candidates.
2. Utilize personality tests to narrow the field and conduct multiple interviews.
The next step involves personality tests. We’ve found them to be highly effective in further narrowing the field. Somebody can come in and claim to be a go-getter, but the tests provide evidence. We’re not alone in this strategy; the Society for Human Resource Management estimates that 18 percent of American companies utilize personality assessments as part of the hiring process.
Once you have someone in the door, conduct multiple interviews to make sure he or she is the right fit. We’re looking to strike a balance. For example, we want someone who will be aggressive in terms of doing everything they can for the client. But if that person is not a good communicator or appears to be overly competitive with coworkers, that could be a problem. Remember, your true competition is outside your walls. You want your team to work together in a cohesive manner in order to provide the best service for your clients, not be focused on beating their colleagues in some way.
3. Hold monthly reviews rather than annual meetings.
We want to maintain our company culture, which involves a high level of performance and efficiency for clients. It does not mean we are looking to hire people who are clones of each other. That would be boring and, ultimately, counterproductive.
We look for that commitment to excellence as well as the skills to communicate effectively. We have found that the best way to foster that type of culture is through monthly one-on-one review meetings, as opposed to waiting until the end of the year for this type of review. Managers check in with their team members on a monthly basis to give feedback. Any issues or concerns can be resolved quickly rather than be allowed to fester over several months.
But in these one-on-one meetings, it’s not just the employee who is being reviewed. Instead, it’s a back-and-forth dialogue. Encourage your team members to speak up. If they see a better or more efficient way they could be doing their jobs, which will benefit your clients, you want to hear those ideas. Our willingness to be open-minded to new strategies has created an open environment in which our employees can feel comfortable expressing those ideas. So, in a way, change is a vital aspect of our company culture. We are not so rooted in tradition that we are blind to opportunities.
One final piece of advice I’d share is for business owners to take their time during the hiring process. We have found it’s better to go a bit slower and make sure we are as confident as possible before offering a job to someone.
Adam Wright is president, CEO and co-founder of Associated Graphics (AGI), the nation’s leader in fleet, vehicle and environmental graphics. This article ran in INC. Magazine on January 9, 2019.