Tom Gimbel is founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a staffing, recruiting, and human resources consulting firm based in Chicago. He's an expert on how businesses can hire successfully and establish a company culture. He has been featured on numerous news outlets, including the Today Show, CNBC, and the Wall Street Journal.
I invited Tom to Marketing Smarts to talk about how your company can recruit—and keep—the best talent by cultivating the right workplace culture.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
Appreciate good employees, and let the not-so-good ones go (02:52): "What we do for employee engagement and creating a culture where people want to stay is really twofold. To begin with, we appreciate the people that are here. Service businesses are a little different than manufacturing and distribution companies because our quality, or product, is the people we have—our staff and employees. At the same time, I think the No. 1 thing you can do to create a good culture is let people go when you make poor hiring decisions. The biggest thing that affects a culture is the wrong people. A lot of times, companies are too scared to let people go; they feel the workload's too much to let people go, but keeping the wrong people in the environment creates the negative culture. As leaders and managers, you have to be willing to admit your mistakes. When you hire the wrong person, that's a mistake."
Encourage fun, accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative (07:23): "I think that the No. 1 thing is to make sure that people understand that the fun comes after the work and the success. I'm not a big believer in the pool table.... I've had these conversations with people, with our clients that do this and other places. The pool tables and the ping pong tables and the foosball... it's all well and good...but companies don't create that so people can play that and work an eight-hour day. They put those in there so people can work 12-, 14-, 16-hour days, and have a small break to go do that without leaving. My feeling is, if people want to stay here, I think that's great. If they want to be here when they play. If they want to work through periods of break time to go and do that, that's great too.
"What we love...is a very transparent communication of accountability. We say 'listen, this is what needs to happen; this is how we respond to our clients and influx of client calls, and customer relationship issues, and this is what's expected of you.' We're in the jobs business, which is a very, very important, serious thing, but we need to have fun with it. We need to laugh. There are funny things that happen. We're dealing with human beings and there are goofy stories that happen every day and we need to laugh about it. And when something bad happens, we need to realize and learn, but we're not going to dwell on the negative."
Hire the person, not the resume (12:13): "People want to stereotype and generalize. I tell people all the time, 'If you're complaining about the Millennials, why don't you hire Baby Boomers? The answer...isn't the Baby Boomers, the answer is that you have a salary slot that pays an entry-level salary, and you want to hire people out of college because that's been the true-and-tried way for hundreds of years. Entry-level jobs, entry-level salaries, people out of college. This falls into line pretty accurately. So then the question is, you've got people graduating from private institutions, from public colleges, from small liberal arts private colleges to big private universities, to Ivy League, to Midwestern, to second-tier state colleges...to for-profit education degrees...to third-tier public colleges, community colleges—there's so many different types of people and education that's come out of this thing, that you've got to look at different types and what the education was. Your organization might not need somebody who got a 3.5 [grade point average] from the University of Illinois. You might need somebody who got a 2.8 and they're gonna hit their stride when they get out of college.... Just because somebody's got a nice haircut and they speak well doesn't mean that they're a great salesperson. It just means that they have a nice haircut and they speak well."
Invest in training for employees, and make sure they take advantage of it (20:54): "I'm a big believer in investing in people and training and development. The hardest part is time management. We've got a certain number of hours in the day...so you've just got to figure out how to cram more stuff in. Training and development is really a one-step backwards for five steps forward mentality.... Having training is a great way to learn what people's engagement level is, and what they do with the development they have. It's a lot easier to call somebody to the carpet for not executing on their job when you're providing them training or access to training and they're not taking advantage of it. When people will say 'I'll do whatever it takes' and then you give them access to training and they're not doing it, you call them out on that."
Tom and I covered much more ground, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
This episode brought to you by the MarketingProfs Professional Development Program.
Editing services courtesy of Candidio.
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.