One of My First (and Most Memorable) Business Lessons

Shortly after leaving university and joining 1-800-GOT-JUNK? the company welcomed a new leader to my department, the call centre.

This leader’s name was Patrick Louis.

Michel Falcon (Left) & Patrick Louis (Right) in Toronto, ON

The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? call centre consisted of a team of 100 call centre agents (not all scheduled at the same time) answering 1,000,000 calls per year (if my memory serves me correctly). 

The Scenario

When Patrick came into the company he inherited a team of young individuals. A few people were making $100,000 per year as call centre professionals. If you know anything about the call centre industry, this is extraordinarily unusual.

The company was and still is great! This description isn’t a bash on the organization, it’s a description of the reality at the time. This is likely why Patrick, a seasoned professional was brought into the company.

During my first year, many of my peers and I called in sick regularly. We performed well as a team but we often operated outside of the guidelines put forth to us, and likely made the life of our Workforce Management Team (WFM) very difficult. The WFM team is responsible for scheduling agents in the call center to ensure there was enough coverage to answer 80%+ of calls within 20 seconds.

To summarize, Patrick had a few challenges ahead of him:

  • The profit and loss statement of the call centre was likely in the red because wages weren’t sustainable.
  • Some (maybe most) of his inherited team didn’t have many responsibilities outside of paying rent and earning money for the bar.
  • He needed to find a solution, fast. This key department within a recognizable company couldn’t keep operating this way. 

Patrick’s Solution

Now, let me tell you something…I was one of those agents that called in sick when I wasn’t. 

Sorry, Patrick! I hadn’t fully matured yet.

But, aside from that, I think I was one of the better agents (this was before transitioning to the operations side of the company). I paid attention to the changes that were happening and when I didn’t understand why changes were happening, I’d ask Patrick to tell me directly so I could learn.

Since I left business school to learn how to grow a company and make operational decisions – this was my real-world MBA. I knew I had to pay attention and acquire wisdom.

These are some of the changes I witnessed and their cause and effect:

He Changed The Pay Structure 

Before his arrival, we were largely (and generously) paid on commission with a modest hourly rate. Receiving a loan from the bank with this proof of income wasn’t very likely. He changed the compensation plan so that our commissions were dissolved but had an opportunity to earn a very nice hourly wage, which financial institutions would favour for loans. There were other opportunities to earn more income by way of sales contests but not direct commissions. Not only did this save the company money, but we also performed better as a department!

He Changed the Employee Profile

Before Patrick’s leadership, we were largely a team of 20-25 year-olds. He had the experience to recognize that the company needed a team of people with true responsibilities other than buying beer. These individuals needed to come to work every day to pay their mortgage, support their children and other things that held high value. This new demographic of team members rid the call centre of the absenteeism issue it previously struggled with.

I can’t tell you firsthand how long Patrick conceptualized the plan but it appeared to happen after attentively observing then following up swiftly. Naturally, there was an objection from tenured employees.

Mostly from the individuals who were used to making six figures (or close to). I remember peers of mine requesting one-on-one meetings with Patrick to voice their displeasure. 

Although Patrick’s decision was unpopular, he always stood by it. 

I shared this story with my girlfriend, Sophia. She hung onto every word because she was fascinated by the example of leadership and making tough decisions. As I shared this story with Sophia it reminded me of something I’ve always known…

…1-800-GOT-JUNK? really was my real-world MBA. Scenarios and case studies like this may be taught in business school but it’s not comparable to watching it play out right before your eyes.

The Lesson

Patrick must have known that this major change, one that would impact individuals’ bank accounts (a sensitive topic), would cause some of his team members to quit. But, the decision needed to be made.

I learned to measure risk, think of contingency plans, how to make swift decisions and stay the course.

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

What is the 3P Strategy?

PURPOSE, PROCESS, AND PROFIT.

My 3-P strategy was developed to ensure businesses (including my own) are not just successful for a few weeks, months or years, but that they are successful for DECADES to come.

Watch this short video if you want to learn how your businesses can THRIVE for decades as well.

Want more tips like this?

Check out one of my other quick videos like What is People First Culture for tips on company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience or follow me on LinkedIn for exclusive business insights.

What is People-First Culture?

In this video, I describe my People-First Culture. I hope you enjoy and subscribe to my blog to stay up-to-date on company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience strategies!

Stay tuned for next week’s installment!

Eager to learn more? Follow me on LinkedIn and pick up a copy of my book!

BOOK — https://www.amazon.com/People-First-Culture-Lasting-Company-Shifting-ebook/dp/B07JBDBTZ8

LINKEDIN – www.linkedin.com/in/michelfalcon

Interview Process: 7 Tips to Build a High Performing Team (2018)

 

Michel Falcon:

Hey everyone, I’m Michel Falcon, and in this video, I’m going to share the seven tips that I use to build better interview processes, to build high performing teams, increase employee engagement, and build a more profitable company.

Do you feel your interview process lacks structure? Have you been asking the same interview questions for years? And do you feel like you need to be properly trained on actually how to host these interviews? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this video is for you, because I’m going to teach you the type of process that I use in my businesses to build a high performing team and a profitable business.

When I started my career, I did not know how to interview at all. I asked the typical questions like, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” And, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I now know better. To build a high performing team, you must build a very regiment interview process so that you make great hires each and every time.

The seven step process has taken me years to refine, so I know it works. The steps are: a phone interview, predictive index, culture interview, skill set interview, assignment, decision, and offer.

The first step of the interview process is the phone interview, also known as the phone screen. I ask about five questions on this interview. But the main thing I’m listening for, is how does a candidate answer their phone? And what does their voice mail sound like?

If they can’t answer their own phone in a professional manner, or have a professional sounding voice mail, that gets my guard up. Because what is the likelihood that they are going to represent your brand well, if they can’t even represent themselves well as individuals. I’m also listening for how enthusiastic they sound to hear from you. The phone interview’s in place to filter candidates from the very beginning. Properly interviewing does take time and energy. But if you have a proper phone interview in place, that’s going to filter bad candidates out from the very beginning, and save you time.

The second step into my interview process is giving the candidates a predictive index assessment, also known as PI. PI is something that I swear by. It only takes the candidate about 10 minutes to complete, and it’s going to tell you what makes them tick, and what ticks them off in the workplace, and what really motivates them, and how you’re going to have to manage them. Don’t just take it from me, my friend Dev Basu is somebody that I put on Predictive Index as well, too, and he absolutely swears by it.

 

Dev Basu:

Hey, it’s Dev Basu from Powered By Search, and I wanted to say a few words about Predictive Index. It’s a tool that we’ve been using at our agency for the last six months or so. And man have things changed since using it. I’m not one of those people that loves guessing when going into a hire, and having somebody critical join my team. And since employing Predictive Index, frankly three things have changed.

Number one, how we recruit people, because now we have an idea of what their drives, needs, and behaviors are when they come into the organization. Number two, how our existing people like to work with each other. And so, are they more extroverted, or are they a bit less? Are they more patient, or less patient? And so on. Then finally, our clients. We’ve actually been sharing PI with them to understand a bit more about what’s the best way to work with this person, and give them exactly what they need. And I hope that that is something that every organization has access to. We use it very often in terms of Predictive Index. And I think that is one of the best investments that we’ve made in 2017 for us. We continue, and will be continuing to use it for the foreseeable future.

 

Michel Falcon:

I use it. Dev uses it. And I highly recommend you should explore the opportunity of using PI within your business, to build a high performing team. If you have any questions on PI, there’s a link below that you can visit to explore for yourself.

The third step of my interview process is the most important. I repeat: it’s the most important step of my seven step interview process. And that’s the culture interview. That is where you ask questions to understand is this individual going to fit within our company culture. The hardest part about hosting this interview is letting yourself be distracted by accolades that this candidate has earned, or their past success.

Yes, maybe they’re a great bartender, maybe they are fantastic car salesmen, or a real estate agent, or whatever the case is, but you have to understand in the culture interview, if they are going to fit within your company culture. Ask questions to really understand, are they going to fit within our core values, and play nice with other team members on our team. If you don’t believe that they will, and that’s going to be a judgment call on your behalf, then tell them that they cannot continue forward in the interview process.

The type of questions you should be asking during the culture interview are related to your core values. In my business, I have five core values. So, we ask two questions per core value in the culture interview. We do not ask any questions related to skill set, to understand if they can actually perform the job, because that’s not our focus. Our focus in the culture interview is strictly on whether this individual’s going to fit within the company culture, or not.

The hardest part that I see many entrepreneurs and business professionals struggle with in this step, is being enamored with the skill set. You have to ignore how good of a developer this person is, a sales person, or a marketer. Only focus on whether they’re going to fit within your company culture. This is a non negotiable, if you’re going to build a high performing team that aligns behind your company values.

The fourth step of the interview process is the skill set interview, which happens on a different day than the culture interview. During this interview you are asking questions to understand if this person can actually do the job that you’re recruiting for. I like to ask about a dozen questions to make sure that you keep the candidate on their toes, and giving you very solid answers.

The fifth step of the interview process is the assignment. It’s where you give them a small task that could take them anywhere between four and eight hours to complete. If you’re hiring a marketer, have them edit a three page document for grammar and diction. If you’re hiring a sales person, ask them how they would handle these five different sales scenarios. Heres’ a little tip, give it to them Friday afternoon, and ask them to have to delivered to you by Monday at noon. Why? Because you want to understand if these individuals are going to give up their weekend to work for your company.

You’d be surprised how many people will drop out of the interview process, which his very advantageous for you, because you know that if they’re not committed to their own career, what’s the likelihood that they’re going to be committed to their company? We’re almost at the finish line.

Step six, is the decision. If you have, which you should, multiple people in the interview process, get together and debate whether you should make the candidate an offer or not. If you have multiple candidates that you like, that’s an advantageous position to be in, but it can also be quite difficult, because you might have a couple people on Team A, and a couple people on Team B come together and decide who you are going to make an offer to.

Step seven, the finish line is when you make the candidate an offer. Do not simply just email them and say, “Hey, would like to work for our company. Here’s your offer.” Remember that this candidate just went through interview hell. Many different steps and processes and many hours. Make this a moment of celebration for your candidate, and get them really excited to join your company. My recommendation is to get a couple people on the phone, put the candidate on speaker phone, and congratulate them in a group setting. This will get the candidate super jacked up, super enthusiastic to join your company, and start delivering results on day one.

You may be thinking Michel that sounds long and exhausting. When it comes to your interviewing, you’re not trying to be efficient, you’re trying to be diligent. And that’s how you build a high performing team. You can’t rush the interview process. You can’t do things that haven’t worked for you in the past. So, I implore you, to have an open mind. I use this strategy each and every time when I start a new company, when I make any new hires, and it absolutely works.

It’s taken me years to refine, so you know that it works, and it’s not something that I’ve just created overnight. Equally as important, this interview process is difficult. To find high performers, to join your team, and contribute to the success of your company, you need to make it difficult to work for your company. Go out and refine your interview process to make it something like joining a private country club. Not everybody can get in, but when you’re in, you’re in.

There you have it, that’s my seven step interview process. It works for me, and I guarantee it will work for you too. If you have any questions, if you want more education, go to MichelFalcon.com, there’s a whole lot of videos for you, so that you can build a high performing team to grow your company. If you learned something by watching this video, stop what you’re doing, go over to YouTube, and click the subscribe button, so that you can automatically be made aware when I release my next video. In the comments section, let me know what step you think is going to provide you the most value to build a high performing team.

And if you want more education, head over to MichelFalcon.com. I have a lot of videos over there to help you build a stronger company by using company culture, customer experience, and employee engagement.

Thank you so much. See you next time.