For our 100th Episode, we have a legendary guest, Lou Adler!
Lou Adler is The Sherlock Holmes of Recruitment, CEO, and founder of The Adler Group – a consulting and training firm helping companies implement "Win-Win Hiring" programs using his Performance-based Hiring℠ system for finding and hiring exceptional talent.
Lou got a good whiff of corporate BS and turned the recruitment industry on its head. He’s been a nuclear missiles engineer, ran a manufacturing company, financial analyst for the 37th largest company in the world, director of business operations for the first handheld calculator company, and GM for an automotive manufacturer.
Lou realized that the hiring process was broken so he invented what’s now famously known as the ‘Performance-based Hiring' model. With over 40 years in the recruiting industry, Lou's company ‘The Adler Group’ has trained over 40,000 hiring managers and placed over 1500 executives for many of the fastest-growing companies with clients including Disney, General Dynamics and Paycom,
Lou has over 1.4 Million followers on Linkedin and is one of the top bloggers on LinkedIn’s Influencer program writing about the latest trends in hiring, employment, and recruiting.
His articles and research have also been featured in Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Bloomberg, SHRM, and The Wall Street Journal. Lou is the author of ‘The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired’ and the Amazon top-10 best-seller, ‘Hire With Your Head - Performance-Based Hiring to Build Outstanding Diverse Teams’ which has been translated into multiple languages including Korean Japanese, and Chinese.
He’s also the host of the "Almost Daily Recruiting Show" focused on addressing the challenges involved in ‘Diversity Hiring Without Compromise’.
Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.
We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.
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I can try it out yell a hiring manager, you can't. But you can out fact someone with evidence of superior performance. And that I think is the key. And that's why we structure interviews. Hey, let's go through a structured process and look for evidence that this person's perform. Work in compare in comparison to what you really need. And that's the game changer.Kyle Roed:
This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of work, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe, favorite podcast listening platform today, and leave us a review. Rebel on HR rebels. Rebel HR listeners. Thanks for joining us this week. This is going to be a super fun one. I've been following Lou for a long time. And this is going to be a fun discussion. Lou Adler is our guest today the Sherlock Holmes of recruitment, he got a good whiff of corporate BS and turn the recruitment industry on its head a true rebel HR. He's been a nuclear missiles engineer ran a manufacturing company financial analyst for the 37th largest company in the world, Director of Business ops, for the first handheld calculator company and GM for an automotive manufacturer realized the hiring process was broken. So he invented what is now famously known as the performance based hiring model. Welcome to the show, Lou.Lou Adler:
Hey, thank you very much, Kyle, for inviting me delighted to be here. And we'll see if we can screw up some HR people today.Kyle Roed:
Well, that's what we are all about. You know, I've told people the rebel HR, it's kind of oxymoronic, right, you know, HR is not supposed to rebel. But I've been saying for years, I think there's a better way to do some of the things that we try to do. So I want to ask you, what got you focused on hiring the right way?Lou Adler:
Well, first of all I'm going to take I'll answer that question in a minute. But when you said about the rebel HR, and I remember some talk I gave in probably 20 or 30 years ago, and it was about HR, and a bunch of HR people there and I was in the HR space. And I said, the key to being successful in HR is to break some rules. And I remember there was three older woman at the time, but at the time, I was probably 40. And they were a little bit older. Now. I'm 75. So nobody is older than me anymore. And they almost fell off their chair and he walked out of the room. And I never hadn't thought about that for 3040 years until it happened. But when you said that, and I think that's a problem is you got to break some rules. So let me kind of get back to your original question is I was running a manufacturing company when I was early, very early 30s 300 People were making automotive components. I hated the Group President literally hated the group president. And he came by every other Thursday, and told me how bad I was. And I was so depressed. And I got over over the weekend. And for next nine weeks before we came down again, it was pretty good. And we actually turned around a company like I said, I would but it was the corporate bureaucracy. This guy didn't know anything, didn't know what was going on. He just would complain, complain, complain, even if we made our budgets. So I just got an as other stories about why I got fed up with corporate bureaucracy. But I started to use these recruiters. And I realized they had a better life than I did. They were remarkable recruiters and I hired five people through them. And one year, CFO had a product cost, the county manager had a manufacturing. So those are the positions I was familiar with. So one day, I really quit four times in one year. My first search assignment was two days after I quit, and I gave him six months notice. So this was not. And I many times, I thought it was a stupid idea. But I still decided to push it because every other Thursday still came around. And my first search assignment was for a manufacturing company in the automotive industry. It was in Southern California, but there was a lot of components and accessory products being built down here. And the President, his company, whom I knew I'd work with, so I'm looking for a plant manager. And he gave me this job description that listed skills, duties, responsibilities, and some Hey need results driven 10 years of this heavy manufacturing, yada, yada, yada. And I looked at I said, Mike, this is not a job description. This is a person description. A job doesn't have skills, competencies and experience a person does. Let's put the job description in the parking lot and tell me what this person needs to do to be successful. He said I want somebody to turn around the plant fine. So let's walk through the plant. I had so much manufacturing background, I was very comfortable walking through a manufacturing plant, walk through the manufacturing plant. It was a crummy plant laid out poorly bad controls bad material processing bad manufacturing processes, no metrics whatsoever. And I said Well fine. I'm gonna fix all of that. Three weeks later, I made my first placement. I have never used a job description listing skills, duties and responsibilities ever since that, and I probably done 1000 of these, maybe even more. But even last week, I did one for a senior systems architect and week before someone to be a VP of a retail company trying to double their sales and new distribution channels. But the question I always ask is, what is this person need to do to be successful, and we will compromise on that work, we can create that work in five or six performance objectives will not compromise on the performance objectives. But give me some relief on the mix of skills, experience and competencies. That is the difference maker. And that to me, if HR continues to use and use the excuse of you have to legally required to put skills experience in companies, these, they're not talking to the right lawyers, you have to use objective criteria, but not a bunch of BS, it doesn't predict performance. It only screens out the best people. So that's my story. I'm sticking with it. 43 right there, Kyle.Kyle Roed:
I love it. And you know, I can hear it. I mean, you know, and I'm, I'm kind of fighting against, you know, the Kyle of the past and all the, you know, all the certification where it's like, it's like, so what are you like, oh, yeah, how do you make a defensible job description in the event that you get, you know, sued for, you know, discriminatory hiring practices. And I mean, that's, you know, but then I got to thinking, and I had kind of had this epiphany a number of years ago that you have to, you have to be inclusive, you have to hire the right way, you have to hire the right people. And you have to be, you know, the, you have to have a diverse pool of candidates to hire from. But at the end of the day, you could actually be screening people out because you have these arbitrary, you know, skills, experiences and competencies that maybe don't really apply to the job. So. And the other thing I'll say, I mean, like, you know, lawyers, it's not black and white. If a lawyer tells you something, you should always ask another lawyer.Lou Adler:
That same issue, people, as I started speaking to a lot of groups and making these statements, I did have a legal issue of people started pushing me back, so you can't do that. And I said, I'm going to talk to the best lawyer in the country. So I actually talked to a couple of labor attorneys. And for a book that I wrote about 10 years ago, I talked to the head of the OFCCP practice at littler Mendelson, David Goldstein, he's a partner there senior partner, he speaks in front of the courts, the Supreme Court and litigated more wrongful hiring issues. He wrote a white paper that said, which basically concluded exactly what you just said. He basically said skills duties and responsibilities unless they're scientifically used to predict performance are discriminatory performance objectives, defining the work that needs to be done. Our objective criteria, the law just says objective criteria. A building a team of accountants to launch a new accounting system on a McCormick dodge platform in six months is as objective of having a CPA and 10 years experience. In fact, one of them is objective, the other was subject subjective, as long as they can do that work using objective criteria. And that now opens a talent pool to everybody who has a different mix of skills, experience and competencies. And that's the game changer. And HR people still fight that, which is surprised me. So if you want to be a rebel, rebel, throw away your job descriptions that are discriminatory and really define the work that needs to be done.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, there you go. You heard it here first. You can throw thatLou Adler:
out. What you heard it here again, right? And why HR doesn't want to do that is what I find surprising.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, I mean, to me, that just sounds easier. Yeah. So you're telling me that I can like eliminate all this kind of this subjective criteria, and this many years of school and this many years of experience and just hire somebody to do the job. And it's notLou Adler:
easier because and this is the reason it's not easier is hiring managers are unwilling to define those performance objectives. So that's a cultural issue. If each manager, Accounting Manager, manufacturing manager, sales managers, what is the criteria that you need to have to be successful? And if that isn't systematized within your company, you're not going to get there. So conceptually, it's different, but I don't know that it's easier, but it's better in terms of how you should drive your organization. And you can look at Google's project oxygen, or gallops q 12. clarifying expectations is what managers should do, but they're reluctant to do it. So we've given managers a free pass and if HR wants to now incorporate something like hey, let's clarify expectations. up front, you gotta have a system to do that. Now that starts where you say, how do you implement that idea? So it's not necessarily, let's say, it's a better idea, you'll raise a talent bar, you'll be able to manage and people based on what they want to do, and all those kinds of things. But it's different. I don't know that it's easier. But it's far better.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, that's a good point. Fair point. And I'm reflecting and conversations that I've had, as I've been drafting your, you know, these position profiles and so on. And a lot of times you asked that question, you know, what do you what do you need this job to? Do? You know, what kind of what kind of output do you need from this individual? And a lot of times, the answer is, I hadn't really thought about that. I mean, you know, they need to show up, you know, Monday through Friday, and, you know, to do what I asked him to do, and like, Okay, well, what else is there? So, as you've worked with organizations, and you've worked with a lot, you know, everybody from I think, you know, some little known brands like, you know, Disney and pay calm and General Dynamics to, you know, I'm sure hundreds, if not 1000s of other clients, as you've gone into these organizations, and really kind of started to shake things up, as we think about recruiting. Where do you start? Where do you kind of target that? The the catalyst of change?Lou Adler:
Well, I think it's, well, it starts with the hiring manager. So let's be, so if I was going to go into a company, let's say manufacturing company of 10,000 people doesn't matter. I would say, Okay, let's try it with one job. That's a critical job force. And let's profile that job software developer, marketing analyst sales, reps, let's profile a job. And let's really understand and map that job for a group of people. And let's create a pilot with half a dozen managers or dozen managers, half a dozen recruiters and really build the process and validate that it works. And you'd have to kind of do that manually. You got your business systems, your workday or your ATS, so you got to kind of tie it that way. But I, but I think what companies do, is they don't want to do this little pilot to validate it. They want to make something easy. So okay, we'll go to Lone Ranger, oh, we'll go to success factors, and we'll implement this company, why'd you do it company wide, it's an HR process driven from the top down, I'm gonna contend No, it's got to be driven from the bottom up, let's get a bunch of hiring managers that are open and willing, put them on a management development program, let's say this is how we're going to hire in the future. And now you've got a bit of benchmark that how to do that, then you say, Okay, now we've done it with manufacturing, because I will actually say the technical jobs or the process jobs are probably a little bit easier. Even what I don't want to actually say I would say, technical managers, when I describe it, he let's just define the work as a series of performance objectives. And we say, Okay, what does a person really need to do over a year? Are they gonna design a new circuit, they got to turn around the factory, they got to implement this new reporting system? Fine. What would they do? First, they trigger out what the problem is they evaluate different alternatives, they put a plan together, they get the resources, they implement it. So the sequence of steps that goes on, but that logic of how do you manage work effectively, conceptually, is logical and met process based managers get that? It's okay, I'll try that. Now. You got to systematize it which is the hard part, how do you systematize it for that group and then expand it? So I think there's a way to do it. And you can tell my background as you said, as an engineer, I've been in engineering manufacturing systems cost accounting. So when I got into hiring I just said, this is broken. Why would someone have so you're a manufacturing guy Kyle so to me when a manager says you send two or three candidates and the manager says I don't like any of these send me more candidates. Now in a manufacturing if you have a broken machine producing crap you wouldn't say let's produce some more crap and hopefully we get one good one it's so illogical so the manufacturing guys it now we're not going to do that. What if we go too wrong with Why won't the first three any good job spec wrong? The salaries wrong? I'm not a good interviewer. You're not a good interviewer, we don't really understand what's going on. So you start thinking of it that way, as hiring as a business process, like manufacturing with yield, you start working on each of those pieces. And that's all I've done is just I just take in my manufacturing background and process control and say, Okay, how do we fix each piece and each pieces now you got people involved here, so each piece a little bit more complicated, but there is a benchmark there that works. That was kind of your long answer to a short question how to implement it, but it's a that's conceptually the way I'd go at least for trying to figure it out and getting there.Kyle Roed:
I I love that approach. And you know, it's funny. It took me about 15 years to figure out exactly what you just described in about two minutes. There wereLou Adler:
give me 25 years. I could describe it, but doing it isKyle Roed:
a lot. Well, yeah, I should, I should step back, I'm not going to claim that I've got it figured out. But, but at least understanding theoretically, the issue between somebody in HR, designing what they think is this beautiful system, it to eliminate bias in the recruiting process and get the best candidates and, you know, and, and rank people against their position profile, like, I started my career in one of the largest organizations in in America. And they had a, there was a process for everything. So when you go into an interview, it's like, you have a column to fill out, you have a rating to give, you know, and you like force, rank all your candidates, and it's supposed to just work beautifully. And it's, it was terrible, we sucked, it was like, we would have about a 40% turnover rate from new hires. And it was just just kind of a mess. And then in my current company, when I came in, there were almost no recruiting structures. But what I did have was really seasoned managers that were able to tell me in about 10 to 15 minutes of talking to a candidate, this, this, this candidate will not be able to achieve this objective. You know, and it and it was pretty amazing to me that that I was, you know, and eye opening that I was walking into an organization that didn't have this beautiful HR system, but had these really good leaders. And from that standpoint, then that's, you know, it's a whole lot easier to work with great leaders, and just put some systems in place with great leaders and help them out than it is to try to put the best system in place and have mediocre leaders. That's Oh, I didn't agree with you on that one.Lou Adler:
You know, I would say I just You talked about the Sherlock Holmes approach. And I think so let me kind of counter a little bit what you said there, and maybe I misunderstood. You call me the Sherlock Holmes of recruiting. And the reason I say that is I deal with a lot of technical or experienced people who have accomplished a lot in a bunch of different fields. I obviously, as an interviewer and recruiter, I don't know that work. But as an interviewer, what I've discovered, and this is the Sherlock Holmes is I use the duct of evidence, I just hate telling you about the best work you've done in this field. I also know that the best people were there accountants, engineers, marketing people, sales people, they're always assigned a stretch project, after a few months on the job, you get a good engineer, that manager knows that's a good engineer after 90 days, and they say, Okay, I'm going to, I'm going to give you this big project, or your sales, or I'm going to give you this tougher client, oh, you're an account, let me give you that we got this tough accounting issue to do, I want you to deal with the lawyers and the accountant and the CPA firm to work this problem out how I'm going to expose you to this executive. So there's good people always get some kind of recognition early in their career. And so I just look for that evidence. It's the duct of evidence is, I'm not judging you, because I can't judge your technical competency. What I can judge is how others perceive your technical competency. And if they gave you weak clients, boring projects, lateral transfers, month after month projects that didn't stretch you or grow, you take advantage of it. I know that you're an average person. So I look for those things. So that's why I call the Sherlock Holmes approach. So now I also have evidence. So if you as a manager making you cannot make a judgment about a candidate in 30 minutes. They anybody who says that they're wrong. They're making a superficial judgment based on first impressions and personality. And those are not predictive. And I've had many, many a manager who has made judgments like that. And I remember one guy for cost accounting CFOs. But no, it was the CFO interviewing someone for cost manager. And he told me after a 12 minute interview, because I know that's the cat it was this cat was a useless cost accounting manager. I call the guy back and confront him. I said, you don't know what you're talking about. This guy set up a McCormick and dodge platform at Ford plant, most complicated ABC costing system in the world. He's was asked to lead it worldwide, didn't take the job because he his wife was going to school in Southern California getting your MD degree and you just lost it because you didn't because the guy was soft spoken. You interviewed the next day and says you're absolutely right. This guy's great cost accountant. That guy that guy hired 12 People from us in the next year as a recruiter. But you cannot out him Oh, I can try it out yell a hiring manager. You can't but you can out fact someone with evidence of superior performance. And that I think is the key and that's why we structure interviews. Hey, let's go through a structured process. look for evidence that this person's perform work in compared in comparison to what you really need. And that's a game changer.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. And I love that, you know, that approach, I think, you know, what I heard there's, it's a, it comes from a point of humility, understanding that you're not the best judge of talent that other people are, who have actually worked with this individual, you know, over a, you know, a period of days, I want to talk about I want to dig into this this topic, because, you know, we started the conversation talking about kind of throwing out the throwing out the script on job descriptions, and why that's actually not great for diversity, equity and inclusion. So I want to kind of keep that conversation going and talk a little bit about what you mentioned, which is that emotional bias that so many interviewers fall prey to, so as you're going through this process, and as you're finding these, these these candidates, how do you address that with the hiring managers?Lou Adler:
Well, I think it's a very, it's a great question. And part of it is, I try to make a judgement. And I, what I tell hiring managers when in our training is don't use the interviewer to make an assessment. Use the interviewer to collect evidence to make the assessment. And and we have this 1010 tools to control your bias and emotion to conduct an objective interview to apply that concept of collect evidence to make the decision don't make the decision during the interview. Because if you like somebody who has softball questions, if you don't like someone, you look for facts to prove the person though good. And you can get your answer every way. So part of it is and we and this was, was probably my first retain search of all time, because I was a contingency recruiter for 10 or 12 years when I first started, when and just for people who don't know a contingency, you only get paid if you make a placement, retain they hire you and pay you up front. So this was with a company in California. You might have heard of it. If you're from the West Coast, you definitely know In and Out Burger. If you're in the Midwest, you wouldn't have heard of him. But this was my first retained search. And it was in 1990 only had 80 stores. And I gave a little talk to a business group the president of In and Out Burger was there at the time. And I said don't make a judgement in the first 30 minutes of an interview script the interviewer for 30 minutes. Because you will make a wrong decision. So script the question you're going to ask ask everybody the scripted interview and we have that but so about three days later, I get a call Lou love that 30 minute question. 30 minute delay, how would you like to do a CFO search that was my first retained search for an an Out Burger became my biggest client and other issues there. The President was ultimately a couple years later, died in airplane crash, but still my biggest client, but the issue was, and then this was something else I learned which was equally as important with that client. The president of the company didn't like to do one on one interviews. He just didn't like it. He always wanted to do panel interviews. And he said, Lou, I'm only going to do this if you do panel interviews, and I said I didn't like it, but I went along with it. But as I learned about a panel interview, a well constructed panel interview, it's got to be well organized. It can't be everyone asking their plan questions. It got to be again, a scripted interview where you have people asking main questions, and the panelists asking factfinding clarifying issues that turned out to be probably the best tool to eliminate bias. So waiting 30 minutes scripted interview, have a panel interview with organized panel where you ask a series of questions off the scripted interview turned out to be an objective assessment. We have a scorecard now, where people at the end of the interview, they take the score card, they compare evidence around factors we've seen predict success. And as long as the evidence is close, it's not a widened as this is a process control issue. As long as everybody agrees about these factors. And in fact, we could be results already technical competencies, building teams, organizing projects, as long as the evidence is pretty close. It's the right thing. When you see a wide variety of evidence, just like in a manufacturing process, you see wide variance in product coming off the line, you know, you got to process control issues. Now that again, was a very long answer. I gave a two hour training session in that quick summary, Kyle. But that's one of the ways to control bias structured interview, wait 30 minutes of a series of in a panel interview, and clearly an understanding of what the job is really all about in terms of performance objectives and asking people to define work they've done and related to those performance objectives. You'll you'll cut bias and increase objectivity by 50%.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, absolutely. I you know, I think there was so much great content in there. But one of the things that really stuck with me was the you know, the comment that you You know, you shouldn't make a judgement during the interview, right? It is tough. It's really tough because we're like, you know, we are predisposed to judge people on first impression, you know, what are they wearing? How are they talking? Are they sitting up straight? Are they slumped over? Do they, you know, and, and, you know, if you don't actively fight that you're, it's, it's really, it's terrible. And you end up with a bunch of people that are just like you and, and you don't get any diversity. And you're missing out on great talent. Why rememberLou Adler:
this one, I don't want to offend anybody. But I learned another dimension of controlling biases, conduct a phone interview first, I'd almost say without zoom. But that's probably all possible now. But nonetheless, conducting a phone interview. So I'm going to go back 25 years or so, I had a client was looking for National Accounts Manager, which is sales. And I conducted the phone call with a fellow and he had this great accomplishment opening up, and I'm gonna say it was like price Costco was a opened up a big account. So who that's pretty cool. Is this one to Costco was really just coming out in the mid 90s. And then I met the guy in person. And he was a huge, huge guy. I mean, just so big. I mean, I just, and I was overwhelmed and not feeling positive about this candidate. And I decided it's not gonna work, terrible first impression. And it took me about 10 minutes to fight through that. And I remembered after the emotional reaction, negative emotional reaction. Remember, this guy told me about the story about opening up this major national account, which was Costco. And then I listened to him. So at the end of the 3040 minutes of the interview, the guy, I would almost say, he lost 30 pounds and grew six inches in height. My imagination of how bad he looked, was totally wrong. He played was a football player. He played anyway, played football for San Diego State. And once I had that, in my mind, his appearance was perfect. It was a great guy. I mean, he really did accomplish this. So I talked to my client, I said, You got to meet this guy. He's a great guy, but he is a big guy. So I'm telling my client on the phone, this is your guy, he's a big guy. How big is it, he's a big guy, how big a, he's huge, you will be overwhelmed, and you will not be positive about this. He is so so big, you will be blown away, and you will not feel good about it. And I actually told him that I said, however, he did open up Home Depot, Costco. He met the guy a couple days. He said, That guy's not that big a guy. I mean, it was like I planted in his mind. And he thought this guy was going to be huge. And he was just a foot. I said, he's a football player, but he's huge. He's going to probably break your chairs and opening. And I made a big thing about it. And that minimize the negative impact of first impressions. And I've, to me, more hiring mistakes are made because of first impression bias. The second biggest one is not having the performance objectives figured out. But if you put the performance objectives down, what does this person need to do to be successful? The task, the action result, five or six of those and plant that this is what we're measuring. And then you wait 30 minutes, and you ask questions to give me examples of work you've done related to this, you usually get the right answer. I mean, there's a lot in that statement, but that's how you unpack it. But first impression bias is the number one cause the lack of understanding job in terms of performance objectives is the reason emotions are the number one cause.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely, absolutely. You know, it's it's interesting. You know, I think a lot of times you'll walk away from an interview, especially with someone that you have some affinity for, and you're like, wow, I think they'd be a great, great fit. But then, but then you come back to it, you think about it, and you're looking through your slate of candidates and and it's easy to look back at that resume after you've had that experience and think, but what did they do again? Like, like, what, wait a minute, so we had a great conversation. And they were a great interviewer. But what you know, it's almost like, like that scene in office space. Like what would you say they did? They're like, and, and it is good. And I think from my standpoint, I'm uh, I also enjoy collaborative interviews. I like one on one discussions, but certainly collaborative discussions after interviews are over to check that as well because that that first impression bias, you know, the halo effect all those types of biases, they're just, they will make you fail if you let them if you don't activelyLou Adler:
know. You have to proactively control it. And you're right, and I could tell the fifth factors are critical in terms of assessing Fitness important. But too many, as you just said it there you Kyle use summarize that what you're actually measuring in the interview is propelled the person's personality and presentation skills, you're not measuring their performance. So how do you, so you got to say, Okay, I've got to just put the blinders on and measure this person's performance in relationship to my environment, the environment includes, does this person want to do this work? Is that person intrinsically motivated to do this work? Can this person work with that manager style? Can this person work with our decision making process and the depth of resources? And the values we hold to be true? And are they comparable, basically, the pace and intensity the company, and if you got a mismatch, and under those fit factors that person's gonna perform?Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. It reminds me of probably the first experience that I had with this, it the first manufacturing company I worked for, was, you know, I came from the school of like, you know, you, you're grading your candidates on communication skills, and all these sorts of like, competencies. I mean, it was a competency rating type of interview system that I learned on. And then I was on in a much more open kind of interview discussion, I had this candidate in front of me, and he had he had long green hair. He, I don't think he'd shave shaved for the interview, he was wearing a torn up flannel shirt, basically, like the shirt I'm wearing now, but with holes in it. And like, had the wallet chain. And I mean, he looked like he would have rather been anywhere else on planet Earth and sitting there at my interview table. But But quite, quite honestly, we were just desperate. So I was like, I don't even care what this guy's communications skills are. Can you do this job? Yes. Is the job open? Yes. Okay, put them in. And it was a great case study for me and my own personal biases, because he turned out to be the best fricking worker that I ever hired in, like the entire time that I was an HR, they're cool. And it was just because you know, what, all those skills that I was judging him on in that interview, the communication and professionalism and all that stuff, and the fact that he didn't even want to be there. You know, what that led to somebody who just wanted to come to work, get everything done on time, kick ass and not talk to another human being. And you know what, that's exactly what we needed in that job.Lou Adler:
was about communication skills. And I think this is a big one is where I believe competency models are fundamentally flawed. Because your judgment on communication skills, or every other interview is going to be a personal, but that is a bias itself. So and then you have someone who's got an accent, and I couldn't communicate, so you come up with an excuse. So what I do in the interview is they said, well, the guy has got to be, or the person's got to have great communication skills. So I always say, well, timeout, what is it? How does a person use those communication skills on the job? Oh, they got to make presentations to the management team every quarter fine. Let's judge the ability to make manage presentations, accounting data to the management team every quarter. So during the interview, I said, Okay, candidate, tell me where you've made presentations to the manager, to the management team every quarter, walk me through where you've done that. So now if the person has an accent, but they still can make those presentations, once a quarter, or work with a, the people in accounting or marketing to put product specs together, that's what you need to measure. Don't measure it in some personal characteristic of what you believe the interviewer believes to be good communication skills, we say convert having to doing, they got to be results oriented. Okay, where do you want results? What does that look like? Are they gonna take motivation to design code and get it done accurately? Fine. That's what we'll measure. So convert every single personality trait or competency into a performance objectives. So now you have some objective criteria to measure. That was what got David Goldstein, the chair of the OFCCP, practice at luminosa said, You nailed it, that's how you focus on objective criteria. And that's where everybody gets wrong. I don't like long, long injure, they kicked me out of meetings and skill. So success factors, Skillsoft you're focusing on stuff that doesn't predict performance, take those same competencies, and focus on what does that have to do on the job? And it's a game changer when you do that? Absolutely.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. Yeah. You know, I think one of the challenges that we're facing right now, and I'm curious to hear your perspective on this is just the the scarcity of talent, you know, trying to find people right now. And, you know, and to be honest, and I'm sure some of your HR people are probably nodding your heads at this. Sometimes we're just hiring a person because we have such a lack of of candidates so so when you're in that type of a situation where the talent pool is not deep and you're you know, and being quote too picky, is it is not really possible. How do you how do you modify your approach? Do you change the way that you think about bringing people into organizations? Or is it more important now than ever to be?Lou Adler:
I would say this, I think it's always important. But I think the issue that if I go back and I wrote my first book hire with your head in 1997, actually wrote at 96, got published in 97. And in 1998, or so, McKinsey came out with a report the war for talent was a strategic imperative. And then other people say, well, the war for talent is going to be one this is 25 years ago now, based on having an applicant tracking system, having job boards, and building in house corporate recruiting departments. And I said, it's a bunch of BS, you got the wrong strategy, you can't have a weed out the weak strategy of posting boring jobs, skip filtering on skills and competencies and academics that don't predict performance. And figure you're gonna win the war for talent, good people, the top 25%, the top third are looking for career moves. It's an attract in strategy, not a weed out the weak strategy. And, to my mind, I made this contention 25 years ago, I still believe today, HR thinks you can post a boring job and expect to get good people you're not going to get it's got to be a high touch Association. Spend more time with the right people, build a deep network of referrals, leverage your employees, get them to attract the best people they know, and start thinking differently about how you hire people. But it's a much more high touch approach, as opposed to a weed out the weak approach. And I think if you don't get the strategy, right, hey, we want to raise a towel bar, we want to attract the best, you're never going to get anything, right. We let hiring managers off the hook by posting boring job descriptions. Of course, that's why you can't get good people and nobody, no good people say I'll take an ill defined lateral transfer for money. So you've made money, the issue, you posted boring jobs, and you have great resignation, because you're not developing people properly based on what they want to do. Me put all the pieces together, it's pretty logical. And I believe that HR is screwed up for last 25 longer yours. Today, you want to be strategic, we'll get strategic and how best people accept jobs, how they promote, how they develop, and how they grow. And if you put those things in place, you'll be an HR leader that's worth millions.Kyle Roed:
There you go. I can you know, I love engineers, I work with engineers all day long. And I can just the way your brain works. It's like, yep, this guy was an engineer, because it isLou Adler:
your issue was I was born an engineer and a recruiter which really talks the heck out of me. Even in fact, I was talking to an old fraternity brother. So this is like, he called me the other day. He's hiring. We just known each other. But this is like 55 years ago, it was an engineer. And he said, Oh, Lou, you are the rush chairman for three years. That's all I wanted to do is I could so I was an engineer and a sales and a recruiter. I mean, it was just weird that that background is it's a very odd background, I would say that.Kyle Roed:
But I do think you know, it's what's fascinating about that background, and what what I really appreciate about your approach is, you know, I think HR could use a little bit of that type of thinking, right? It's that kind of that logical with a lot. Yeah, a lot. Yeah. And it's the whole like, Okay, if all I'm making this job, if the only differentiator in this job is I'm paying more money, then where that person currently is, then what is that person's motivation, money, and what's going to happen when somebody else comes to him and says, hey, I'll pay you X, whatever dollars more to come do the same job over, they're gonna leave, right? And then and talk about all the challenges that we're facing with the great resignation or whatever you want to brand. It. What it is, is, it's people who are just, they're just leaving for better opportunities. So maybe just work on your opportunity?Lou Adler:
Well, I think in some way, and this has been researched, and there was this, I had a somebody in one of my trainings or leadership groups I had, his name is Todd Rose. He's head of prison of a company called populace.org. And he wrote a book called collective illusions. But he did just came out with what the American workforce index, a basically what drives human performance, and it's not different from gallops q 12, or Google's project oxygen, but once you're over a threshold of money, those aren't the drivers of success. The drivers of success are the work you're doing, who you're doing with the chance to low learn and grow and be developed and having the resources to maximize your potential. Those are what keeps people there. So you look at what are the root causes of this great resignation, and you summarize it, it's not money, so paying people more money to stay or more money to accept the job. You've just basically set the stage to have this loop continuous loop of underperformance and dissatisfaction. So it all starts with the right strand. Let's let's hire people for the right reasons. With paint. You got to be paid people competitively. So if you're not in the game competitive gonna happen. So you got to be above a threshold, you know, and obviously everyone wants 1020 30% more, but as long as You get that threshold that doesn't become the driver of on the job success. And I think how people accept jobs and people perform on those jobs has to be changed. And it all starts by asking people, What does this person this role have to do to be successful? Let's hire for those reasons. And let's give people career moves and let them learn and grow and stretch them so they can become the best are capable of becomingKyle Roed:
absolutely. So much great content. But we are coming towards the end of our time together.Lou Adler:
Thank goodness, I'm getting old and tired.Kyle Roed:
I want to shift gears, we're gonna go through the rebel HR flash round. Three quick questions. ready?Lou Adler:
I'm ready. Well, right. You might not be as flashy as you think. But I'mKyle Roed:
ready. That's all right. I'm fascinated to hear these responses. All right. Question number one. What is your favorite people book?Lou Adler:
Well, my favorite book of all time, I guess it would be people book is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, maybe highly effective executives by Stephen Covey. To me, that's great. Seven Habits. They're all great. I actually look for those habits. I probably picked up some as I was looking at people who are successful as a recruiter. But when I saw him written, He said, Yeah, this is what we're looking for. The best people have these seven habits. So to me, that's the best book. I still refer to it all the time. We almost got MS. Many years ago, almost got bought out by that company. Never happened. But we certainly talked to him about it. And it was just fascinating. I still find it a fascinating book. And it is my best people book of all time.Kyle Roed:
I love that book. I actually just reread it here. And it's funny, I read it probably 15 years ago. And rereading it now. I'm taking even more away from it. So you know, it's definitely worth it. Firstly,Lou Adler:
begin with the end in mind. And if I looked at our performance based hiring process, okay, what do you want this person to do? What does the person need do to be successful? A year from now two years from now and build up all the steps needed to get there begin with the end in mind is in my roles, all the other six are equally as important. But that one drives the whole process?Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. All right. Question number two, who should we be listening to?Lou Adler:
Well, that's a tough question. Obviously. I don't want to I would say, I would say Callen. Colin Cowherd. He's a sports announcer he is so great. He you can apply his concepts on sports and what drives people to do what they do to everyday life. So I listened to him all day, every day. So I know that's probably unbelievable that I would say that, but that's why I listened to every day. And I love it.Kyle Roed:
Listen, you know, good for you. But I he threw shade at the Iowa Hawkeyes a few years ago. So he's he's dead to Hawkeye nation. So I don't know if I can. I can't say that.Lou Adler:
As biased as the rest of it, butKyle Roed:
that's all good. It's all good. He is it? He's Yeah, I I've listened to God. Yeah. 100 here and there. So last question here. How can our listeners connect with you?Lou Adler:
Yeah, well, you can certainly check us out at performance based hiring comm. You certainly could follow me on LinkedIn. You certainly if you want to specifically, check us out. Go to info at performance based hiring calm, but I would actually basically say go to performance based hiring.com. Buy a copy of hire with your head, high with your head, I think.com hired your head.com you'll get there. Join our book club. Every month or so we we spend time for those people. But you're not talking big bucks here. 12 bucks you buy the book, I get 37 cents each one you do. We actually talk about how to implement a lot of the principles we've talked about on your show, Kyle. So that's how I would do it.Kyle Roed:
Love that, again, that's higher with your head using performance based hiring to build outstanding diverse teams. Lou, it's been an absolute joy. I love that you are pushing the boundaries, challenging all of us to continue to get better. Keep up the great work and thanks for spending some time with us.Lou Adler:
Great, thank you very much. Delighted to be with you and I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.Kyle Roed:
Thanks, Lou. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter at rebel HR guy or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe