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How Companies Identify Talent with Reesa Woolf PhD & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

Have coffee with each employee, even once or twice a year, with no agenda. Share some about your life and mostly listen

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 Reesa Woolf.

Reesa is the author of the bestseller Executive Speaking in a Weekend, a comprehensive guide to writing talks and presenting with a professional presence. With a Ph.D. in Psychology, Reesa teaches the psychology of influencing various personalities to comply with HR practices by connecting with each group, large and small.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I realized at university that life is a smorgasbord of interesting things. I made a commitment to experience what interested me and, as a result, I’ve become an expert in several areas of business, including being a Senior Trainer for AMA — the American Management Association’s Leadership, HR and Communication seminars hired by Fortune 500 HR departments.

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?

On my first job, a flyer came around about a travel opportunity but no one was interested in joining me. I went by myself and was surrounded by people who shared my interests! I have applied this lesson — do what pleases me to find my right livelihood — to business.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share your top HR advice when it comes to identifying and bringing on the type of talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

Hire everyone on a 90-day trial period to avoid paperwork when you decide it is not a match. Ask their co-workers if this person should become a permanent employee. Has he/she helped others, shared ideas, been productive, coped well with disappointments, learned? This trial period shows you their best performance.

Do not hire anyone who has great knowledge but is not a team player. High Emotional Quotient is most valuable; the job can be learned.

If you decide to permanently hire, meet in-person or on a video call during the last weeks of the trial period.

Ask the new employee, “If you were president of this company, what changes would you make?” Their fresh perspective may improve your department.

What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?

1. Consult the person who knows the job best. Often.

When you were coming up, how often did you see ways each company could increase income and save money? How often did leadership ask you for your ideas?

Ask your employees for their ideas. Provide an interesting lunch, leave the room and have them brainstorm on better ways to do everything. To develop their sense of ownership, it is imperative to follow up with updates on how you are implementing some suggestions and why you can’t use some.

2. Maintain a quality peer environment.

Not firing bad employees punishes the good ones who must do their work, will resent you and leave. Skim a bad employee immediately even if it is the nicest person who has been here for 12 years. Personal relationships are valuable but that is not why we gather each day.

No one was ever fired too soon, even managers. It is not good for business to have a loser managing winners. There are hundreds of good people ready to fill that seat.

3. Train them on soft skills, too.

“But they will leave!”

OK, don’t train them. Now who are you working with?

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Richard Branson

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Ask your team, “If we were to create this company today, how would you structure it? What would the organizational map look like? Which products and services would you push and drop?

And have coffee with each employee, even once or twice a year, with no agenda. Share some about your life and mostly listen.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When asked, “What is your religion?” the Dalai Lama replied, ‘Kindness.’”

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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