Think of how wonderful it would be if your applicant pools were already steeped in your culture. What if they already knew your cultural norms, what’s expected of them, and how to behave? What if you could reach into the future and “pre-train” your potential employee? Sounds like a dream, but it’s not.
Our guests this week have figured out how to do exactly this. They’ve seen the value of investing in the future first hand. ADDO Worldwide Co-Founder Kevin Scott and his Manager of Partnership and Prospective Business, Jake Lacy, are leaders of a brand experience and leadership training company and work with their clients to “seed” the prospective employee pool. They shared a few of their key recommendations with us on this show.
Cultivate From the Community
ADDO Worldwide has worked with Chick-Fil-A to create something called The Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy. By this fall, it will be in 900 high schools in 40 states, and it has nothing to do with their tasty little nuggets and waffle fries. “They are sponsoring this high school leadership program,” Scott states, “that is training, essentially…training people who are not their employees.” There are several astute reasons for doing this. “The reason they are doing this, number one, is that they want to extend their brand and their values,” he points out. Such an outreach helps build brand affinity, while engaging the community on a significant level. “They are teaching people their values before they’ve ever maybe even worked at their restaurant,” he says, “So now, they have a talent pipeline to hire from.”
It’s something that is happening all across the corporate spectrum. Delta Airlines recently put a similar program in place at Auburn University. There, they teach their principles, hoping that when these students become job candidates, they will already be well versed in the company’s culture. “I think anybody can find ways to plug into their community to get involved in organizations,” Scott says, “and help instill these values in young people who might just end up working for you.”
It’s a formula that works no matter the size of the company. “This is not exclusive,” Scott points out, “this is not limited to the Fortune 500.” But, resources can be scarce. So how can you make the same kind of impact? According to Andrew Gazdecki in his piece for the website Biznessapps, 3 Ways Businesses Can Profit From Local Outreach, you can donate to schools or partner with non-profits, but there is a more intriguing strategy to try. “There’s major power in numbers,” he writes. “Pool your efforts with other local businesses to put on a free event for the public where you can promote your brand and get face time with the community—just focus less on product-pushing and more on making it a good time for all.”
Consider it a question of added value. “If you’re a business owner, if you can plug in and positively impact schools in your community, you make the schools a better place to attend,” Scott points out. This makes the value of homes rise, it makes the standard of living rise, and as a result, positively affects how you and your business are perceived. It’s a long-term proposition, but if given the chance, it works.
From ADDO’s perspective, making the business better for the community makes the community better for the business. “You can literally create an environment in your community that makes your business in a place that’s in a better position to thrive, long term,” Scott argues.
Create Memorable Experiences
Remember that training video you saw way back on your first day of orientation? Of course you don’t, and that’s the problem. It’s all about changing the way we look at training. It can’t just be a flash-in-the-pan or a one-day intervention. “It shouldn’t be a knowledge transfer, “Scott advises, “but an experience creation.” The goal is to create a memorable moment in the employee’s mind, something they will take with them out into the field while working with clients. You need to communicate to them how important they are to the company and its growth. What kind of message are you sending a new recruit if they walk in to see a TV from 1992 and a poorly produced, terrible training video to watch? “Even if the content is good,” Scott points out, “we’re telling them that we don’t care enough to produce something that’s quality.”
It’s also about shaking up the company’s vision. “We are really short-sighted sometimes,” Scott says, “and I really challenge people to think about this long view of leadership. “ADDO is the Latin word for ‘inspire’,” Scott point out, “and that’s what we are about; we want to inspire people today to impact tomorrow. ” To accomplish this, ADDO walks their own talk. They start off every single Monday morning meeting with something called ‘light bulb moments.’ It’s part of a complex metaphor. “We’re not always on the front line, but we’re equipping people to see the bulbs go off. We package and deliver light bulbs,” Scott states.
Through their training programs, ADDO is indeed delivering light bulbs, doing it on a large scale and helping equip future employees and clients. They also tap into the current staff’s ideas and interests. For example, the love of a local sports team can be a jumping off point for another of these light bulb moments. You draw the worker in with what they enjoy, and then teach them something valuable to the business on top of it. It’s all about creating ‘timeless truths’ in a relevant way and fostering lasting memories that will bind the employee to the business.
Be Evangelical in Your Recruiting
It takes people, the ‘right’ people, to accomplish such a lofty goal. Erika Anderson, in an article for Forbes entitled The Key To Creating a Great Company Culture (Hint: It’s Not the Perks), argues that “we know that this thing we call culture is an important part of building a successful enterprise…but we’re not sure how to make it better…or even what it is.” For her, it’s about finding like-minded employees, emphasizing which core values are important, and how you shift the culture to fit the client’s needs, and vice versa.
It’s why ADDO engages the community through programs like the ones at Chick-Fil-A and Delta. “That’s a big vision,” Lacy says, “it’s really cool to see the baby steps every single day and the little things that are done in order to accomplish it.” It takes a company that is, in their mind, excellent: in execution, in implementation, and in the work they do.
That, and showing that you care. “We’ve worked with some large companies,” Scott states, “where they had a management training program where they would hire recent college grads and for two years, they’d invest $150,000 in their education, their learning, beyond the salaries…and they had a 28% retention rate.” Why? Because they really didn’t care about them. “How do we pretend to care,” was something ADDO heard time and time again, and as they pointed out, you can’t fake it.
For these leaders, it’s all about connecting with the community to create a pool of potential staff and customers that will fuel ADDO’s growth – in the long term. “We want to find the people that believe like we believe,” Scott says, “lock arms with them and say let’s transform this organization. Let’s make this a great place to work, and therefore have an impact beyond the profit statement.”
By following the strategies outlined by ADDO, you too can begin to make changes to your employees—even before they grace the doors of your office. It’s not magic, instead requires commitment, involvement, and vision. Just remember to engage the community and mesh your values with theirs. In the end, you’ll have a large pool of potential employees to hire from, and a brand they can believe in.