The COO Show
The COO Show

Episode 8 · 9 months ago

Right People; Right Seats: How to Attract, Retain & Develop Top Talent w/ Francisco (Cisco) Sacasa


After a year of unprecedented pandemic layoffs, furloughs and shutdowns, something equally unprecedented happened:

Everyone started hiring again all at once.

In a job market with so many options, how do we ensure we still attract and retain top talent?

To help answer that, I’m joined by Francisco (Cisco) Sacasa, CEO at HireBetter, where he has a unique inside-view on the challenges facing companies and job-seekers alike.

In this episode, we discuss:

-Why every company is your competitor when hiring top talent

-Strategies for standing out from the crowd as an employer

-How to get the right people sitting in the right seats (and keep them there)

Want to level up your people and processes? Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for The COO Show in your favorite podcast player.

Welcome to the CEO show, a podcast brought to you by sweet fish media that features conversations with leaders like you and shares the real life stories of the operations professionals laying the groundwork for the success of their teams. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the CEO show. I'm bill read, your host, and today we've got with US CISCO SAKASA. Cisco is with the firm higher better, and they're located in Austin, Texas. Is that right? That's right. I decited to be here, Bill. Look forward to the show. Great Welcome. Yeah, we had a chance to touch base earlier and really excited to dive into some of these topics. First of all, CISCO. Why don't you just tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be where you are today? Yeah, absolutely, thanks. Well, so I'm a career CFO. I've been a CFI many organizations. Where I ended up in my currency is. As I got deeper and deeper my cfol career, I realized more and more that I enjoyed the operational challenges of the firm and less so the accounting and controls type of challenges. So I started steering my career from a CFO seat to a cfos last CEO see to CEO President and CEO and kind of at some point shed my cfo duties and now fully sitting in a more operational role and it's been a great fun. Well, I know you you spend a lot of time thinking about people and placements and kind of the right person, right seat kind of thing. Right off the Bat, I'm interested to explore that. But right off the bat, with the situation we're facing in the world today, I'm really curious, based on your background, to get your perspective on how that's affected the labor market and what you see is changing in the world today. So let me start. Well, about a background as to what we do. So high better is an executive search from where we place executives from operators in a graders, the sea suite VP layer across the US and we're particularly whnaically focused on scaling businesses. So usually middle market companies that are growing quickly when they need to expand their their teams as the they grow their their companies. That's what we do. So that's our particular advantage point. The labor market right now is absolutely fascinating. Something like I don't think any of us I've ever seen, at least not in my lifetime, coming out of the pandemic, which we're still in my new but starting around March ish time frame, it's been an explosive economic recovery coming out of this pandemic in labor market, when from being soft to being very, very tight. We've seen this across sectors, even previously dormant industries like prawl and hollow and vacationing, across sectors,...

...across functions and across geographies. In the US it is gotten very, very tight at all levels, from CEOS to VP layer, director layer and everything below. It's tight across the board. Cisco is there. I'm curious as there is there a reason? Is there an obvious reason for that that I'm missing or or why do you think that's happening? Yes or last year, nobody knew what was going to happen right in the pandemic, how deep the pandemic was going to be, how long it was going to be. A lot of companies shed jobs right the furloughed employees, they cut employees, they did not invest. Many, many companies that not invest. Quite the opposite see when, at least particularly the US, started coming out of it. Then you're seeing this kind of feeding frenzy of trying to bring everybody back in an expanding economy that we've had over the last nine years. Previously there's a steady, you know, hiring and growth that's occurred, but what we saw in March through July is just unprecedented. That basically the entire country was hiring all at the same time and and there's just not enough people to go around for all the jobs us and it became this feeding frenzy. In some parallels are you what you're seeing in the housing market right they residential housing market. Same thing as happening on the labor market. Need is this feem frenzy that employees, you know team members, are changing, swapping jobs in and out, looking for new opportunities. It you hear the anecdotally that during the pandemic a lot of people are rethinking their lives and what they want to do when they grow up, but now they have an opportunity to switch careers. It is crazy out there, what we're saying. It's exciting. It's also kind of crazy in you know, the last four five bunds. I've been just exciting and crazy and all in one big ball wax. Yeah, all of the same time. Right. Yes, well, in in an environment like this, I think you use the word unprecedented and I certainly agree with that. What is the key for organizations like yours, like mine? What's the key to attracting top talent in an environment like this? That's a great question. This is always a challenge. So it's not a new challenge, but it's particularly more challenging now because the labor market is so tight. So we always advise our clients in internally as well. Is has to start with mission, vision values. You got to have the right mission, particularly with the millennials, right the right vision of where your company's going and the ride values. I need to understand those, because it's not just about money. Right, you can throw money at it and you can attract the right talent.

Second they get more money somewhere else, I'm going to leave. So you have to think about it. But the front row, on the back door, you want to attract the right talent but then have the right vision, mission values that they're going to want to come here and they're going to want to stay here and they want to stay with you and help you build your company. So that's first and foremost the most important thing. It's starting with and having a clear set of those all the hiring managers in the company. Well, I would assume that that goes right along with a strong culture, right, although I find it interesting that, you know, in some cases we're all talking about culture today, right. I find it very interesting that some people talk about it so much, some organizations want it so badly they think they have it, I mean a good culture. We all have a culture, right, but they want it so badly and value it that they've got the right language, they've got they've got the detail down, but they're they're missing the substance. Is that been your experience as well? A hundred percent. That's exactly right. Every company has culture, whether they know it. Are Not those that claim that culture is important to them. It's not just putting it up on the wall right like these let's post back behind me. It's about living it. You got to live your values, you got to live your culture every single day as a leader or your organization. That's probably arguably the most important job we have is set in the tone of the top that you living your values culture. You hire for it, you develop for it, you fire for it. Right, you retain the right talent that's going to need your culture and you have to feed it every single day. It's not something you set and forget about it. You gotta set it, tweet, kid in, continue to invest in it, and that's got to be you got to get to live it every single day throughout the organization. Sure, mission vision, values, those are all important and, like you said, you've got a culture one one way or the other. But in a competitive environment like this, what can an organization do to to really set themselves apart? Because this is a matter of attracting talent, right, this is a matter of competing for the best of the best. How do you get noticed? Yeah, no, that's that's exactly right. I kind of go back to look, you can pay somebody a ton of money and potentially bring him in. So if you want top talent, yes, you're going to have to pay top dollars to attract the top town, clearly. But more importantly is having the right you know, messaging right. You're in internal and external mark ticketing is not just for customers and clients, it's also for talent. You have to think about how do you market your roles? How do you market to Canadas? You Position Your Company, your organization as an attractive employer, and that messaging needs to filter throughout all your hire...

...managers, your recruiters, your hiring managers. How we positioning ourselves in the marketplace? And you're not just competing with your direct competitors, you do competing against everybody out there. Sure, competing with the big tech firms like Google and facebook and with the guys on the street and the folks in your industry. When you're looking at hiring top talent, everybody's a competitor. So you have to be very clear about your messaging what makes you a great employer, why they should see themselves working here, being here and building their career here. It's not a job right, it's a career, and that this is the right place where they're going to be fulfilled, they're going to be happy and they're going to be developed and they can be challenged. And I couldn't agree with you more that holistic approach and experiences is so important in today's world. But some of US are struggling right some folks out there because of the competitive nature of the the job market, are struggling. What are they doing wrong? When you think about how most people approach hiring talent is you have a pain and you have a role that you need to fill, and they're going out to the market by posting the jobs on board right whether it's one of the big boards, like indeed to Supercrueter, of any other one, which are great, by the way, they're wonderful boards. The challenges you're limiting your target market to those that are looking for a job. We call those active candidates. In it's only a subset of the population. To truly find the top talent, you need to go around and reach out, direct reach outs to those candidates that are not looking for a job. Those tend to be the higher performers, the higher tend to be the top talent. They are not looking for a job and you need to reach out to them. You know, source dumb, if you will, when you got to sell them with a great value proposition? Why this? You Stop Listen and consider joining your company because they're currently building somebody else's company, they're currently having a great career, they're happy where they are and you need to go find them and you need to sell them the vision of why they should come here, get them excited about it and then bring him in. Yeah, you have to go find them and then you have to sell this. That's a yeah, it's a different world today than it's been at times in the past. Well, CISCO, I know that your firm Utilizes Eos, the entrepreneurial operating system we do here at sweet fish as well, and I understand as CEO, you are the integrator. Is that correct? Yeah, somewhat of an initial setup that I am the integrator. My partner is a founder and visionary. HMM, yeah, that's an interesting rarely run into situations like that, but you know, based on getting to know you a little bit, it makes complete sense to me. How long have you been using the US system? So we've been on us for two years. We we did a...

...self implementation. That didn't go so well. We brought in a professional US implementor in. It was fantastic. We had a great implement or. She did a great job in we were able to not only implemented at the leadership level but then also push it down through every corner of the organization and it's been a great journey. Yeah, one of the things we talked about a lot and the US, of course, teaches is the the right person, right seat. I mentioned it earlier because here's here's the thing. You can recruit good talent, good people, but there are certainly times where you've got a good person, the right person, but you've got them in the in the wrong seat. Now I'd be interested to know what have you done successfully to correct that in an organization? I know it's a painful process, but give us a little insight there. First, what done above internally to our organization and also with our clients? That's one of the offerings we provide for our clients. But look at it internally. You're right, right people, right seats is a very powerful tool. Right you start with your accountability chart, understand you know, clear lanes, who's got responsibility for what, and then you start looking at your business strategy over the next one, two or three years to understand where you're going as a business. You See who on your organization is going to scale in those jobs and that seats and who are your organizations less likely to scale in those seats, and then you come up with a people strategy around it, making sure that you have the right people in the right seats. When you don't that, you put them on the right seats. If they're the wrong people, then unfortunately you got to work on an excess strategy with them that's, you know, ideally mutually agreeable, and then start planning for the growth that they'll be some new roles all you add and you'll need to attract that talent into those seats. Some jazz or gets split as they grow and you'll need to make sure those people can scale and you need to help them scale. By the way, is your responsibility to make sure you have development plans for your team. The understand where their careers are going, that you have development plans for them so that they can scale over the organization. Otherwise you risk leaving them behind in ideally, that not the case. Ideally, you're investing in your people, they're investing in themselves and they're growing as your company grows, so that you have the right people on the right seats today and the right people on the right seats more. Yeah, right, person, right, you see, is critical in not only in retaining but in developing staff. Yeah, we see it, sweet fish, the you know, the the the right person, right seat. That works, by the way, whether you use the EU a system or not. It's a very simple it's kind of a simple paradigm, but it's part of our development strategy because we want people to leave us, to...

...leave sweet fish, better than they were when they came. So right, you know, we celebrate when someone departs and has an opportunity. We encourage folks to grow. We know they're not going to be this is just, you know, this is not the s, the the S, the S. my father had two jobs his entire life and I lived my life as an entrepreneur. My Dad used to say, you know, why is it you can't hold a job? As I went, you know, through my career and and developed and sold companies, he just never understood that. But today you know that you're going to have a season with people right and that rights. Right person, right seat is is so helpful. How do you know, Cisco, when you've got probably wrong person's pretty simple. How do you know that you have somebody in the wrong seat? It comes out to the manager, right, the people manager. How having those career discussions and feedback loops right of what's working what's not working. You also need Your Business Strategy. Where are you going as a company, as a firm, as organization, and you're growing this way or this way or that way, and so it's not just about where they are today and where you are today, but you got a plan for the future, where you're going and are they going to scale to that place? Are they you know, do they want to scale to that place? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, and is comes down to having open and honest discussions. Right and and it is an investment of time, having clear communication, open discussions about where they are now, what's working, what's not working, and that's a two way street, by the way. It's not a manager employee relationship. This is a two way relationship about, for the team member, what's working for them, what's not working for them for the manager, was working, what's not working, and then being open and honest about where we're going as an organization and with it they see themselves, they are in the future and whether we think they're scaling and growing at the pace we need them to grow to stay in the on the right and the right chair, if you want to right sure. One thing that I've seen just in the companies throughout my career and I see it today. You get somebody and you've got them in the right seat. There, you know the right person, but the seat changes, the role that's changes, it grows, is it? It changes, maybe even to the point where now somebody who was a perfect fit, yes, he has either outgrown the role or the out the role has outgrown them. What do you recommend in a situation like that? How would you approach something like that, especially in a case where the job has outgrown the person? So first, like you mentioned earlier, we're going to make sure we have the right person right and if it's a wrong person, then it's probably the different answers. Let's Asse him that it's the right person. It's just that the wrong seat in either they they've ground the seat, the seats that were on...

...them, or just a shifted and it's no longer a good fit. Understanding. What are the expectations now? where the expectations in the future? Right? Where are we going? What's changing in and acknowledging it. It comes down to those discussions, right, that manager, team member, you know, one on one's quarterlies, having open ones, discussions about performance, the loop, you know the feedback loops in and then having an open dialog about it. If they're the right people in your growing organization, more than likely there's another seat they can go into and need to help them get there. They might not have the right skill set. If they're they have the right attitude, to have the right cultural fit, to have the right DNA. You want to keep them, they're just going to run wrong seat. Then it's about putting a development plan in plays helping them get there and then it might be some retraining required to get them to the right seat and they can continue to have a very fruitful and relationship with the platinum, with the firm and continue to grow personality and professionally. Sure. Well, we're winding down here a little bit, but I got to ask you, with the business that you're in, have you read read Hastings Book? No rules, rules yet I have not. Man, I would recommend it. It is it's rocked my world and our entire leadership team has read it. He really just shares read. Was the cofounder of Netflix, of course, and they just I don't know if you've read much about their culture and there and their way, but it's it's quite different and wanted to get your thought on this. You know, one of the things he teaches is you should be asking yourself as a manager, who would I fight to keep? Who would I fight like heck to keep? It's a scary question to have on the table, but what do you think of that? You think that's a good approach? You think it's dangerous? How do you feel about that concept? A hundred percent agree. We use a kind of a litmus test that we use. If you know, let's talk about Mike. We like to talk about Mike. Ride doesn't generic team member. Sure, how I feel that? You accounts like to talk about Bob. Remember that whole campaign? But yeah, anyway, it was Mike. So, if how would you feel if Mike walked out the door today? Right? Would you be relief or will you be breaking out? That's job one. If you had to Rehire Mike Today, would you enthusiastically Rehire Mike or would you hire somebody else? And then the third question we asked is, how would you feel if you had ten mics on your team? In as you go through those three questions, is starts giving you a sense of you know, right now you might feel like you need Mike because he's been there with a with you for a long time and he fills all the gaps. But there might be something going on there...

...right that, if he's the right person, you're going to fight like hell to keep them, help them grow and develop. But as things shift in the company and time changes, and I how would you feel if you had ten mics and if that's an you're like, oh my gosh, I will be awesome, you better fight like hell to give them. If you will be like, Oh my God, what a nightmare, you might want to start thinking about whether you have the right person in the right see at this point. HMM. He talks in the book to about recommending to team members to ask their boss this question. Would you fight to keep me? And boy, that's a courageous question to ask. It is would you fight to keep me in the interesting thing about that is, as a leader you don't have to run reports, you don't have to go access data. Now, of course those are those are factors at times, but just that gut level question is so clarifying, isn't it? Absolutely well, listen, I've enjoyed our visit here and always love talking about people. We at sweetfish our number one core value is to love people well, and we believe in order to do that you've got to value process, and that's why I'm the business of operations, because I want to set people up to succeed. I'm guessing that's the case for you over your career as well. Yeah, it's always about people, all right. Starts with people, ends with people. You can have great process as tools and systems, but ultimately your success it's going to be limited by the great people they have in your team. Yep, I love the saying I because the fact is, people are hard, right, they're the they're the best and the worst of it, right. So the I don't know if this is something I heard or I've made up in my head, but I love leadership if it weren't for the people, right, because that's what it's really all about. You said it. It starts with people, it ends with people. Anything you'd like to add to our discussion here before we close today? And now just a voice of confidence you, all the listeners out there. Whether you're a candidate in the market right now, it's a great time to be a candidate. Choose wisely, don't chase just the dollars and sense. Make sure you look for a company that fits your values and you going to be you see yourself there for a few years as you grow and develop, and if you're hiring manager out there. It's tough, but you can do it. Just think about you know, what's the value proposition that you have. Make sure you're very clear on that, that you have clear messaging free attracting talent like you treat attracting clients. You've very thoughtful about it. Work hard. It is hard out there, but you can do it and you're going to get the right person for the right team. There is, has been, no better time than now to get really good at recruiting and attracting talent. No doubt great advice. Well's this go. Somebody would like to reach out to you. What would be the best way for them to get a hold of you? Yep, CISCO, that's Akasa Higher Bettercom you will see by name in the in the podcast,... you can see the spelling, but I'd love to hear from the listeners and let's go. Okay, great, well, CISCO, this has been great. Thanks so much for your time. Thanks, Bell, appreciate it. You've been listening to the COEO show, the home for operations professionals stay connected with the podcast and catch every episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast player. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate and review the show. Thank you for listening. Until next time,.

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