10 Practical Leadership Lessons from a Training Executive

Matching open positions with the best fit candidates can challenge even the best of recruitment professionals. Liz Hall (@lizabethmhall), Executive Director of Training and Development at C&A Industries, Inc., on the other hand, has a pretty good grasp on the needs organizations have when filling open positions. She explains how she makes tough decisions whether it’s choosing between two candidates or what a leader can do to build trust. Find out some of Hall’s recruiting practices, guidance, and some of the best advice she’s ever been given. 

Which is most important to your organization – mission, core values or vision?

Liz: For C&A, I believe it all goes hand in hand. We are in the business of staffing, largely in the healthcare arena. Our mission is to be the staffing provider of choice by helping companies and people achieve their goals. We accomplish this by aligning ourselves with our core values and follow our high standards. Our vision is very simple: to be the best we can be every day, not in size but in quality and reputation.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader within your organization?

Liz: My number one priority is investing in my people. How can I help them find their purpose and pursue their passion in their position at C&A? Some people simply don’t know. Sometimes that’s by choice; sometimes it’s simply because they have never been challenged to be their very best or use their strengths in their position. I want to help them discover this because it’s a win-win; they will be more satisfied with the position and engaged in their job which makes for a great culture.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

Liz: I choose attitude over skill every time. So often, I have seen leaders hire for skill. They believe “rockstar” equates to highly skilled and experience. However, if there is a bad attitude that comes with all that skill, I find myself spending a majority of my time doing damage control to protect my “rockstar.” However, if I hire someone with a willing attitude, I can train for the skills they need.

You have to ask tough questions in the interview that are behavioral based to see how they have handled themselves in the past. Often, I will ask a question such as, “Tell me what the most difficult thing you have had to do to get better.” I want to see what initiative they have taken on their own to improve, or do they expect me to do it for them. You have to dig for details on these responses, but you can start to see patterns of behavior. These require more than a canned response… I expect real life examples.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Liz: The most important quality for a leader is a high level of emotiona... You have to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy, show emotion at the right time, and you need to have a heart. Have a firm hand when necessary because you want them to succeed. They need to believe that to build trust; otherwise, you will fail.

Research has shown that creating a climate of trust leads to greater team effectiveness. What do you do as a leader to build trust?

Liz: Our organization compensates on team and individual performance; together we all achieve more, right? I have had success with my team by (what I call) Inviting Themselves to Greatness. I give them permission to try new things and allow mistakes. While I do ask them to “look for the lesson” when they make a mistake, I always support them. As long as we learn and get better, I have got their back and therefore their trust.

In your industry, what is everyone thinking, but nobody has the courage to say?

Liz: Most people undervalue the relationships we build via good-old tele... – we live in a digital world. Candidates are often lucky to know the recruiter by name. Employers think everyone will take a job if the money is right; however, that’s simply not true. There isn’t a study out there that suggests money is the number one reason they stay at their jobs. It doesn’t even fall in the top 5 reasons in the most recent studies… Yet, the first thing most companies pitch is the seemingly ever-prominent dollar.

How can staffing become more high-tech but still be high touch?

Liz: We are in the business of people and people require relationships. Again, many don’t put value in those relationships. Since our organization deals with employees who are often away from home, anything we can make mobile-friendly – such as applying for a job with a tap of the screen – the better. Constant availability is key too. Because we deal with all times zones and three shifts, we use a 24/7 chat response.

Employees don’t want to talk to an answering service.  It has to be a person who can answer their questions.

What is something you believe that nearly no one agrees with you on?

Liz: I am a very extreme and passionate person. I believe with all my heart that every day is an opportunity to get better, and I feel it’s my job to help others see their potential. Most people believe there will always be employees who are happy with mediocrity. I simply can’t accept that. If I can look in the mirror at the end of the day knowing I have tried everything possible to help employees see their potential, yet they still don’t want to learn or grow… I will find an employee who does. 

I don’t care if they are a top producer or not.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Liz: What do I know to be true?” If I slow down and ask myself this question, I save myself time back peddling. Ultimately we need to do what is best for the organization.

How do great teams stay inspired?

Liz: I truly believe it starts with having the right people on the team.

The team leader has to be a catalyst for positive energy , each team member needs to know the value they bring, and they need to know where the team is headed. It’s my job as the leader to make sure this is clear. There is no neutrality in the energy… it’s either positive or it’s not.

Great employees come from a great recruitment department; they can only recruit the best candidates if they understand what the team needs in the first place. Hall focuses on the inescapable need to maintain a personal connection to build a better team, in spite the growth in technology. Integrating the company mission, values and vision into the recruitment process, you not only attract great candidates, but you inspire your team. That interpersonal communication from the beginning of the recruitment process and continuing through the employee’s stint with your organization is key to building trust and collaboration in your workforce.

Bio: Ryan Mead, CEO/Partner

Vitru is an online application that provides tools to evaluate and build better teams. Powered by science yet practical and easy to use for a variety of teams. From students and nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies Vitru works!

Great organizations, regardless of size or mission, understand that powerful team chemistry is impossible to force; but when it happens, it’s magic.

Vitru allows team leaders to create and assess teams virtually and in doing so helps quantify what makes an outstanding team outstanding.

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