We Are People Who Need Talented People

Our industry needs to be constantly innovating and reflecting on how it attracts, manages and inspires its people.

The Coronavirus is sending our global economy on a detour that will likely be longer than most of us would have predicted six months ago. The effects on production, revenue and employment are already significant, and we may not know the extent of the pandemic’s damage for a while.

The market will eventually recover. It always does. And companies will need quality employees to ensure that the recovery is strong. While quarantines and closures drastically changed our daily routines, they didn’t alter the fundamentals of finding and keeping those quality people.

“Make compassionate but objective assessments of how people are performing and how they fit into your culture.”

In the context of knowing that your immediate priorities are the well being and safety of your current team members, we give you this primer, for later, on how to find talent who will sustain and grow your organization.

Retention First

Retaining the employees and distributors you already have will almost always bring you the best financial and organizational return.

There are lots of studies out there on the cost of employee turnover. Some often-cited figures come from the Center for American Progress (CAP), which calculates that the cost to hire a new employee can range from 5.8 percent to 213 percent of that employee’s salary, depending on the position. The average is about 20 percent of a worker’s salary, according to CAP.

Not everyone on your team is a keeper, however. Make compassionate but objective assessments of how people are performing and how they fit into your culture. For example, you may have an employee you like personally, but if you are constantly trying to coach that person up to par, you’re probably taking time away from employees who would soar even higher with just a fraction of that help from you. On the flip side, you might have a salesperson who’s killing it with the numbers but doesn’t share your company’s values and is creating a toxic environment for other employees. Those people’s high numbers aren’t worth it in the end, either.

Recruiting Always 

Regardless of how well you retain your best people, turnover is still inevitable. So is growth—especially in the direct selling industry, where rising companies often generate exponential revenue increases that demand capacity increases. We need to be constantly filling our pipelines with candidates for all levels, from the front lines to the C suites.

You have more control over who fills your corporate teams than you do over who self-selects to be a distributor. So let’s start the discussion about recruiting at the home office.

Don’t assume that who or what worked in the past will work now. Every new hire search is an opportunity to refine or redefine what your goals are for a particular role and to fill it with someone who can exceed or at least build on the accomplishments of the person who held the role before.

Our industry needs to be constantly innovating and reflecting on how it attracts, manages and inspires its people. For example, because our industry is prone to criticism, we tend to hire people—executives, especially—who’ve worked in our channel before. It feels safer to stick with people who get us and trust us. But it also keeps us from the kind of positive disruption that an outsider could bring.

Companies across industry lines believe that increasing diversity is critical to staying competitive. According to a recent study by Pearson Partners International, a global executive search and leadership consulting firm: “Organizations have realized the business imperative for diversity and … they are seeking talent beyond the usual suspects who can bring new perspectives and fresh thinking to their businesses and better connect with diverse customers and shareholders.”

That same Pearson study indicates that identifying future leaders is another top priority for organizations in the next five years. You might feel that you have a gut instinct for leadership potential in other people. Perhaps you do. Still, it’s wise to measure candidates against tangible criteria, too.

Consultant and author John Maxwell encourages companies to pay attention to a leadership candidate’s soft attributes, like passion for the company’s vision, emotional and psychological resilience and an apparent drive to take smart risks. But companies also should ask questions that will give them more concrete data: Does this future leader always complete jobs? Does he or she explicitly take ownership of goals and the outcome, whether it’s a success or failure? Do all eyes naturally fall on this person when it’s time for the group to make a decision?

Distributor Profile 

You’re directly recruiting only a small percentage of the people who keep your company vital. Distributors—most of whom you’ll never meet—are the driving force in our industry. Attracting and keeping them when they basically hire themselves means we have to be as transparent and specific as possible about the type of person who succeeds in direct selling.

“Organizations have realized the business imperative for diversity and … they are seeking talent beyond the usual suspects.” —Pearson Partners International

Harvard Business Review recently did a study of gig workers, looking for characteristics that make people successful in a highly decentralized, self-driven channel. HBR found that gig workers have “an intense preoccupation” with being productive and are deeply invested in the outcome of their work. They do this because their income and reputation depend on it and because it wards off the “precariousness” that most independent contractors feel.

The research also shows that successful gig workers:

  • crave routine
  • tend to choose work that connects them to a larger purpose (something direct selling is great at providing)
  • are likely to find motivation in the combination of uncertainty and limitless possibilities inherent in working independently

Direct selling companies also can help potential distributors make the right decision for themselves by being clear about earnings potential and what it will take to reach certain levels within our organizations. And, of course, we need to make sure we’re attracting people who love the sales process and have not just a talent for but a deep desire to connect with others and determine how our products can improve their lives.

‘A Human Focus’

The talented, innovative people you’re looking for are searching for companies with strong people-centered cultures. They want to be part of an organization that is committed to making life better for everyone it touches. These are the companies that will have the first pick of the best and brightest, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.

“The pressures that have driven the rise of the social enterprise … are forcing organizations to move beyond mission statements and philanthropy to learn to lead the social enterprise—and reinvent themselves around a human focus,” the report’s authors wrote. “Leading a social enterprise is about recognizing that, while businesses must generate a profit and deliver a return to shareholders, they must do so while also improving the lot of workers, customers, and the communities in which we live.”

“Businesses must generate a profit and deliver a return to shareholders … while also improving the lot of workers, customers, and the communities in which we live.” —Deloitte

The Pearson researchers agree: “Organizations may miss what it really means to have an authentic employment brand—not just in words and images but in overall work environment and culture. This should be key in both attraction and retention. Understanding culture and how it can drive attraction, retention and innovation is a critical opportunity.”

Always Searching

The search for top talent is never done. Successful organizations recognize that even when they’ve got a dream team, they need to have a dream bench. Identify and work hard to keep the talented people you have, and keep an eye out for those who will get you even closer to your vision.

Good to Great” author Jim Collins famously said, “Get the right people on the bus.” He also said, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” DSN

Need some fresh ways to evaluate employment candidates?

These tips can help you change up your next new-hire search.

Recruiting experts advise you to edit your job descriptions to remove language that might have an inherent bias. For example, “Words like ‘ambitious’ or ‘driven,’ can be seen by female candidates as too masculine,” writes New York Times columnist Adam Bryant.

Online recruiting platform Glassdoor says many job descriptions are cold and inaccessible: “The typical boilerplate description simply won’t attract the talent you’re looking for. Job descriptions need to be thought about as if they are a personal interaction that you’re having with each candidate.”

When it comes time for the interview, Bryant suggests taking a candidate to lunch and making note of how he or she treats the wait staff. Or take an applicant on a tour of your office and pay attention to how curious he or she is about your organization and the people you meet along the way.

And trade publisher Recruiting Daily offers up creative recruiting examples from major companies like Apple and Google, each of which has challenged potential programmer applicants with coding mysteries to solve on its website.