People are happiest when they feel appreciated, connected with their community and when they have a meaningful relationship with their manager. Recognition is free, be generous with your praise.
As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Logan Mallory.
Logan Mallory is a Vice President at Motivosity, a Utah based start-up centered around employee engagement. Working closely with HR leaders, he focuses on the pillars that make people happier at work: being appreciated, a solid relationship with managers and a sense of belonging within a work community. Logan’s background is in B2B tech, building marketing teams, and helping companies grow effectively. Outside of the office, he is an adjunct professor at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, where he teaches marketing strategy, including a section on career skill sets and personal branding. He currently resides in Utah, coaches soccer for his kids, and is excited for quarantine to end so he can take his wife to Broadway shows again.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?
So glad to be a part of this interview — thank you for allowing me to be involved!
I grew up near the University of Michigan and had some meaningful interactions with the great HR and OB minds of that campus. Primarily through my parents’ relationships with them, I was engaged with Bob Quinn, Kim Cameron, Dave Ulrich, etc. (The signed copy of “Deep Change” that Bob Quinn gave me is a prized possession.) Although I was young, I watched them speak, lead, and teach — which gave me an understanding of visionary leadership. It has been decades since I moved away from that community, but it absolutely impacted my career and leadership approach.
Admittedly, my career has been more within marketing and technology. Working closely with IT-related organizations was fulfilling, but I was anxious for something that resonated more personally. Shifting my focus from “technology” to “people” was a very intentional move — I wanted to be involved in conversations that impacted how people felt, not just how they did their work. I love thinking about challenges we face professionally and how to overcome those obstacles whether they be emotional, relational, or situational.
Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?
One day while at work I heard a woman scream outside of the office. I looked out the window and saw that she was being mugged in front of the Nordstrom store across the street. I grabbed a nearby broom, ran down the stairs through the fire exit, and just as I was about to hit her attacker I saw the handcuffs. Ends up she had been stealing from Nordstrom and was being arrested by an undercover security guard.
Sure, this story isn’t exactly about my career but I learned a valuable career lesson from it: You don’t always have all the information. There’s probably more to the story than you can see initially. So be careful with the decisions you make until you have the full picture.
And always have a broom nearby.
Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?
1 — Laddering Interviews: I’ll admit it, I’ve had interviews where I picked up the resume from the printer on my way to the conference room to meet the candidate. That’s not fair to the person interviewing and doesn’t create an environment where I can make the best hiring decision either. It’s best to be prepared, so I’ve taken to typing out agendas based on the applicant’s timeline. Especially for more senior hires, I take a “laddering” approach and plan out questions that will eventually elevate more meaningful insights.
UXMatters.com gives a solid definition of a laddering interview: “A ladder interview is an interviewing technique where a seemingly simple response to a question is pushed by the interviewer in order to find subconscious motives. This method is popular for some businesses when conducting research to understand the product elements of personal values for the end-user.” Though primarily a marketing research term, the concept can also be applied to hiring interviews. Instead of accepting a surface level response, push harder for the story of their wins and losses (And I spent a lot of time on negatives of their career, not as a hard interviewing tactic, but as a way to understand their learning patterns). Ask progressively detailed questions to better understand how the person succeeded, how they responded to failures and what their teams or managers would say about them.
2 — Clues from LinkedIn: Often I will look at LinkedIn before I dig deep into a resume. LinkedIn helps me to see how seriously they take their professional appearance. Of course, you have to have a polished resume to get the job you want, but is the candidate thinking beyond that? I want to hire people that have the foresight to think past the basics. If they have single-digit connections, one line describing their career history, or no profile picture, it gives me something to consider. I’m not suggesting this is a deal-breaker, but it provides some clues to explore. I also want to know who they are connected with and use that as another hint to what type of career they are trying to build.
3 — Indications of Emotional Intelligence: A high emotional quotient is an invaluable asset within a team. Someone who can recognize their emotions and the emotions of their peers is going to help steady your organization in times of trial, brings groups together even if there are mild conflicts, and they will be a pillar of your organizational culture. It’s hard to get a firm sense of someone’s EIQ in a 30-minute interview, but keep on the lookout for indications that they have that skill set. Do they show authenticity and empathy? Do they praise others they worked with or only talk about their contributions as if they’re an island? Do they have a history of helping others?
While at LogMeIn I was asked to interview an incoming senior leader to make sure they fit and would add to the culture. This individual had already been through multiple interviews, met with senior members of the team and I was basically the last box to check. I spent 90 minutes with this person (intentionally…it was part of the laddering approach I discussed earlier) and on paper, they were extremely qualified. Although something wasn’t sitting right, I initially gave my approval to hire them. I was anxious about my decision though, thought it through all day and finally realized what didn’t feel right: Their emotional intelligence was lacking. They had never talked kindly about someone else, took 100% credit for everything they were involved with and seemed to be thrilled about being a one-man show. Able to verbalize my hesitation, I met with the team and we decided not to hire that individual. I’m appreciative to have worked for a company that valued keeping their culture intact.
4 — Hints of Scrappy: Did you ever watch the movie Apollo 13? There’s a scene in the show, after the spaceship is damaged, where the NASA engineers are trying to figure out how to save the astronauts on board. They walk into a room in Houston and the main engineer says something to the extent of, “We have to figure out how to get this square piece, into that circle piece, and this is all we can do it with.” He then dumps out a box of the supplies and tools that match those aboard the spaceship and the group gets to work.
That is the kind of person I want to hire — the person who can look around the room, understand the resources and start finding solutions. Maybe it’s an issue of never having enough time, or not having a budget, or having to make do with entry-level systems or processes. But I want to hire the candidate that isn’t bothered by those constraints and does their best anyway. Those “hints of scrappy” might come from a side gig they’re working on, or a full-time job to put themselves through college, or a single parent who still got top rankings on their annual review.
Organizations should be looking for people who won’t complain even though they don’t have everything they need (or want). Scrappy candidates always get some extra credit in my book because I know they’ll make it through the tough times.
5 — Look for the “Punch to the Gut” Feeling: This advice came from Scott Johnson, CEO of Motivosity, during a recent conversation. He said, “When I’m hiring, I try to imagine how I’d feel if someone denied my offer or withdrew their name from the interview process. If I knew I’d have that “punch in the gut” feeling after hearing that news, then I do everything I can to get that person on the team.” I had never thought about it in those words, but it’s fantastic advice. Sometimes we think about structured interviews or biases, but there’s something to be said about your gut excitement for a candidate.
If you’d be devastated to lose the candidate, move fast, be aggressive with compensation, and communicate often so that you don’t have to feel that gut-wrenching loss.
With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?
1 — Your Employer Brand Matters Now: Of course your company has a brand that prospects notice, but you also have an employer brand. How do your employees talk about your company? Do professionals actively look at your job listings waiting for something that fits or do you have to convince people you’re a great company and get them to apply? Are you known for being flexible and energetic or rigid and stodgy? Your employer brand can’t be created or fixed overnight, so make sure you’re building it now. Clayton Christensen, a former Harvard Business Professor, once said, “Don’t start planting saplings when you need shade from trees.” Build your employer brand today so that when you need to stand out, most of the hard work is already done.
2 — Your Mission Matters: It’s a new generation and “a steady paycheck” or “stability” don’t have the same pull they used to. Employees want to be part of something bigger and your candidates will be looking for how their potential role will make a contribution to the world around them. That “mission” may be directly associated with your product and how it impacts people or communities. For example, Motivosity focuses on “helping make people happier at work”. Those words are on the wall right as you enter our office and everything we do focuses on what makes work better: being appreciated for your efforts, having a positive relationship with your manager and being part of a community at work. That’s a mission people are quick to grab on to.
If your product doesn’t innately tie to a meaningful mission, have some other way candidates can sense your values. Perhaps you offer “volunteer days” or your company has quarterly service projects. People no longer want “just a job” and if you don’t have some sort of higher cause, you’ll have a hard time standing out in today’s environment.
3 — Get to Know the Spouse. Or Make the Offer: I’ve been involved with a lot of interviews on both sides. One stood out to me more than most and even though I didn’t take the job, I was grateful for what I learned there. Once the relationship showed some promise, the CEO of the organization offered to speak with my wife personally. She has a big vote in my career too and it’s often hard to clearly relay details to her after the interview. The CEO offered to take her call or allow her to come in to answer her questions directly. Again, we didn’t take him up on that offer for other reasons, but I was grateful this leader understood part of my equation and was willing to help address it. That approach stood out from the noise of other interview processes. If you can do it without being awkward, finding a way to interact with the spouse or partner can have a very positive impact.
What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?
1 — Prioritize Autonomy: People are happier when they have control and that holds true at the office. In a previous role I “inherited” a team because their manager left the organization. I got to know the new teams business and my new responsibilities, but then I started to daydream with them and got out of their way. I provided some high-level goals and with a little direction, they came up with powerful solutions. Their presence felt like a night and day difference to me, but that was confirmed when I received an email from one of the employees. She said, “I’ve never been as confident, empowered, and energized in my work as I have since starting to work for you….ever. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your confidence in me and what I can do.” That’s not someone who is going to leave for a 10% raise. It wasn’t me specifically that made her feel that way, it was the ability to make her own decisions and feel the powerful impact of autonomy.
2 — Appreciate and Recognize Your Team Members…Consistently: Annual bonuses feel good initially, but you spend the money fast and have to wait another 364 days to feel good again. An ongoing sentiment of gratitude and appreciation within a company will improve morale and reduce turnover. Find ways to appreciate your crew for their day to day contributions and make it easy for them to recognize each other as well. When appreciation is a core part of your culture, eNPS can increase by as much as 52%. When you are recognized and appreciated by your boss or co-workers, you have a higher level of job satisfaction. If that only happens once a year instead of once a week, don’t expect to keep your team as long as you’d like. Help identify where the team “wins” are happening and shout about them often where everyone can see you doing it on behalf of your team.
3 — Build a Community: We all want to feel like a part of the team, tribe or community. If that sense of community doesn’t exist then we start to look for it elsewhere. Your company or team will have a culture whether you build it or not, so a proactive and intentional approach is always best. We’ve mentioned some great things to build cultures around already: Causes, appreciation, great products, performance, etc. Find something your team values and build a culture that people want to be a part of.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’m crazy about one of our themes here at Motivosity. We know that “Thanks Matters”. You see it on our t-shirts, you see it on our social posts and we live it in our culture. It creates an office of people who are kind because we’ve taken the time to engage positively with one another. Motivosity aside, gratitude changes people. When you take the time to appreciate what you have, it leads to humility and eventually kindness. It feels like so many people have forgotten to be kind in 2020 and that’s partly because we have expectations of what we deserve. We want someone to take care of us instead of being willing to serve others first. A movement that focuses on a foundation of gratitude would likely change some of the angry and hurtful things that are happening today.
Such a big fan of that answer. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?
A gentleman named Henry Eyring was a professor at Standford and later the President of Ricks College in Idaho. He once said, “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”I make efforts to live that concept. My life consistently looks like it’s put together…a decent education, a wonderful family, a solid career path. But there have been dark times where those good things in my life simply masked the pain I was in. If I’ve been through those storms, others have too and I’d like to help them as they work through their struggles. Kindness goes a long way these days.
We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?
Keith Ferrazzi has such a wonderful “abundance mentality”. I read “Never Eat Alone” early in my career and his concept that the “pie isn’t finite” has absolutely made me a better person. I’d love to someday personally thank him for that counsel. Lunch is on me.
Grateful for you doing this and sharing so many valuable insights with us all. Thank you!