Mike Goldman is the founder of Performance Breakthrough, where he works with leadership teams to ensure they have the right people, strategies, and execution habits for growth. He's also a speaker and consultant, and the author of the book Performance Breakthrough: The 4 Secrets of Passionate Organizations.

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He's worked with all kinds of organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Throughout his career at Accenture and Deloitte Consulting, he helped companies such as Verizon, Disney, Polo Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Kmart, Dillard's, Liz Claiborne, Levi Strauss, and others.

I invited Mike to Marketing Smarts to discuss how your company can perform better by hiring and nurturing the right people. (One surprise? "The right people" doesn't mean "well-rounded people." Details in the episode.)

Here are some highlights from my conversation with Mike:

Before you can build an all-star team, you need to assess your current players (09:32): "It's got to start with an honest evaluation of their current organization. An evaluation or talent assessment of who their A, B, and C players are. Looking at that [not only] from the perspective of productivity...but more important than productivity is are those folks living the core values every day? Are they a fit for the organization? It's got to start with a talent assessment of the folks you've got right now within your organization, making some really hard decisions about who you ought to free up to go become an A player somewhere else because they're never going to be an A player for you, and really...looking at all of the individuals on their team to understand and accept what makes them different. Leverage where their strengths are. It's got to start with that current team."

Hire for talent, not experience (10:54): "You've got to look at your hiring process...and hire for those natural talents. People tend to focus on 'we need five years of experience in this and seven years of experience in this.' You can coach someone. You can mentor someone. You can build someone's skills over time from a productivity standpoint, from an experience standpoint. But you can't take someone and make them someone they're not, so you've really got to focus on those natural talents. You've got to focus on those core values. And you've really got to modify how you're sourcing and how you're making those hiring decisions."

B2B and B2C companies alike can enhance company performance by creating a culture of celebration (24:10): "Frankly, you can talk about B2B vs. B2C, but all companies are 'P2P,' they're person to person. And even if you're a B2B company, you're not selling to a business: You're selling to a person, or you're marketing to a person, or you're giving customer service to a person. So the impact of your attitude as an individual, the impact of your culture as an organization, whether it's B2C or B2B really...doesn't make any difference.... There's one organization that I work with locally called DialAmerica that does teleservices for organizations. They're B2B.... They really take their culture seriously. I went in and did some coaching and development for their 60-person service team on how to do a better job of developing new business, and part of that is...this idea of celebration.... Having a constant flow of positivity. It's about having fun...celebrating wins and celebrating activities. Some of that's about having themes and contests.

"DialAmerica did a contest with their service folks, not just teaching them how to develop new business, but creating a contest that pit team against team to see who could develop the most business. They created a really fun environment in doing that. And this was a service organization that had never really developed new business before...and they had some great results doing that."

Managers, don't focus so much on your weakest employees: Spend more time helping your stars to shine (26:28): "Your strongest people are the people with the greatest potential for growth.... If you want to be an extraordinary company, you've got to have extraordinary people, and if you spend 80% of your time working with your C players, the performance of your A players and your B players is going to suffer and you wind up having a mediocre organization. You really want to spend time with those people that have the greatest potential.... If you find yourself spending 60, 70, or 80 percent of your time with your C players, what that tells you is you have too many C players! You have a hiring problem. You have a talent assessment problem. Why do you have so many C players? That's a big problem.

"A lot of organizations believe that 'oh, I can handle only about 25% A players, because then everybody's going to want to get promoted and we can't do that.' They kind of force-rank folks. I think organizations ought to be shooting for 70 or 80 percent A players. Not every A player is an A player that's looking to get promoted or needs to get promoted. You can have someone who's a career accounts payable clerk who's an A player.... It's really about where the most potential is. That's where you want to spend your time."

To learn more, visit performance-breakthrough.com, or follow Mike on Twitter: @mgoldman10.

Mike and I talked about much more, 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!

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Special thanks to production company Candidio, an efficient, affordable video production platform allowing marketers and communicators to collaborate and curate video content, with help from a team of professional, on-demand video editors for the finishing touches. Check them out!

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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