How Small Companies Can Compete Against Larger Companies For Talent

Q. We are a small growing company. How do we compete for talent with larger companies, since we can't pay as much as they do?

In my search practice I have placed people in small and large companies. The main issue is rarely compensation. In fact, if that is the primary issue then you will never win, as there is always some company willing to pay more, and that goes for large companies too.

First off, should you even be competing against large companies for talent? Their culture, resources, support, systems and budgets often will not align with a small company. That isn't to say never, but often, so you might be searching in the wrong pool for candidates.

Secondly, especially in this economy, money isn’t everything. Candidates today are seeking much more than just compensation. The are seeking stability, work-life balance and a company where they feel they can make an impact. Smaller companies tend to have a lot less bureaucracy, there is hard work but it's a fun place to work, there is a personal touch where everyone knows everyone, it's a growing company with an exciting vision for the future and so much more. It has been my experience that smaller companies don't think about these things when hiring. They go right to compensation, when for many candidates these things have a value or trade off to compensation. Granted, there is a fair compensation for every position and person, but once that level is met other things come into play.

Finally, don't ignore the seasoned workforce. I constantly hear about how age discrimination is happening. Many of these people would be outstanding employees and bring a level of expertise no younger worker could bring and also do it for a very reasonable compensation package. This workforce is underutilized in today's market by many smaller companies.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE  and you can download our free eBook under the FREE Hiring Resources section.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard


What Can You Do When Hiring Isn’t Working?

Question: We have a pretty extensive interviewing process in our company. We spend a lot of time making sure the person has the right skills and experience, yet our last few hires didn’t work out. We aren’t sure what else we can do to hire people, any suggestions?

Companies often think that because they have an extensive interviewing process everything should work out. Extensive usually means that they conduct multiple interviews, review the person’s skills and experience, ask a lot of questions and the candidate meets a lot of people in the company. Unfortunately, none of these have much to do with making a good hire.

First off, skills and experience are completely irrelevant in hiring. They are important, just not relevant. You proved this by the fact that you spent a lot of time assessing the candidate’s skills and experience, yet they still failed. Why? As a hiring manager, what you care about is the candidate’s ability to apply those skills and experiences in order to achieve certain results. If they can’t then they may be a good candidate, but they aren’t the right candidate. The focus of an interview should not be on “Have you ever done X?” but rather, “How would you do X?” The first question focuses on their past. The second question requires them to explain how they will apply their skills and experiences. It is always better to ask, “How would you?” than “Have you?”

Secondly, interviewing requires competent interviewers. I would like to know if you have ever sat in and assessed others during their interviews to determine if they are even competent interviewers? So often we just assume that everyone is a great interviewer, when in fact they are not. Your interviewing process is only as good as your worst interviewer.

Join the other 10,000 CEO's, key executives, and HR professionals who have downloaded a FREE copy of our best selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.” Just CLICK HERE for your FREE ebook.

Want to assess your hiring process? Download our FREE 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard. How does your company rank on these critical points? CLICK HERE to download.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. If you liked this article and found it helpful, please forward it to others.

Brad Remillard

Do you Inspire Others to Self-Motivate?

Are you inspiring your direct reports to self-motivate?

I am firm believer that you cannot motivate others – they need to self-motivate.

In looking back through my archive of motivational articles, I re-stumbled across this blog post on inspiring others by Scott Ginsberg. Scott wrote an article on his blog “Hello My Name is Scott” titled “The Matt Foley Guide to Motivating The People Who Matter Most.”

Scott put forth 4 ways in which you can inspire others to self-motivate. I liked the manner in which he framed this critical element of success for coaches, executives, and managers.

I don’t do his article justice through my summary – you’ve got to read the full article for yourself. However, here are the 4 key areas Scott laid out to inspire others to self-motivate:

  1. Compassionately take people’s hiding places away from them.
  2. Recognize when inspiration isn’t sufficient.
  3. Delete the demotivators.
  4. Focus on passion as the great prioritizer.

As a coach, executive, or manager you have the power to inspire the people around you to self-motivate.

I use this element of leadership as one of the core areas I probe into when I am interviewing executives and managers. As you may recall, leadership is one of the key areas to predict future success for those in a role where they manage others. Some of the leadership interview questions from our Success Factor Methodology include:

  • How do you specifically inspire others to self-motivate?
  • What techniques have worked best for you and are now part of your portfolio of inspiring your direct reports to self-motivate?
  • Which techniques have been a dismal failure?
  • What do you do to learn about the latest tactics and methods around inspiring your direct reports to self-motivate?
  • Describe a couple of examples where you’ve had a boss or peer that did a great job of inspiring motivation? What did they specifically do in that example? What elements of those tactics have you adopted as your own? Can you give me 2-3 examples where you’ve applied those tactics in the last few months?
  • How to specifically build inspiration to self-motivate into your coaching and one-to-one feedback monthly conversations?
  • When you interview candidates for roles on your team – how does the candidate get a precise understanding of your ability to inspire motivation?


Could you pass this interview? Do you believe in your heart that it’s your responsibility as a manager, executive, leader, owner, founder to inspire your people to self-motivate? If so, where would you rate yourself on a ten point scale – 1 being weak and 10 being you’re a poster child for inspiration.  Do you know how to inspire your direct reports to self-motivate? Do you apply these techniques ALL THE TIME or only as passing thought? What would your direct reports tell me about your ability to inspire self-motivation?

If you cannot inspire your direct reports to self-motivate, you’ll never succeed as a great manager or executive! Now were digging into the realm of culture, retention, employee satisfaction, employee motivation, employee engagement, and ultimately – performance.

Is it time to re-examine how you manage and lead? How do you specifically inspire others every day?

If you would like to read Scott’s entire article on how to inspire others to self-motivate, please click the link below:

The Matt Foley Guide to Motivating The People Who Matter Most

Barry Deutsch

P.S. Download our FREE Hiring Assessment to determine if you're doing a good job measuring and evaluating candidates, especially those in leadership roles where the ability to inspire self-motivation is important.

Do Your Employees Trust You?

Dysfunctional boss who has zero trust with his team

In numerous studies, surveys, and research, employees indicate over and over that trusting their immediate supervisor is one of the most important elements of their job satisfaction.

  • Can you honestly say that your direct reports trust you? Do their direct reports trust them?
  • How do you know?
  • Do you cross your fingers hoping they trust you?
  • Have you conducted any anonymous surveys recently? Hired a coach to ask a few tough questions? Solicited feedback from your staff?

Probably NOT.

Implications of a lack of TRUST

The number one reason employees decide to leave their jobs is due to a lack of opportunity. More on this subject in another blog post. The second most common reason is loss of respect for their immediate supervisor/boss. AND there is no faster way to lose respect than the destruction of trust.

How many of the employees in your company have one foot out the door, are actively searching the job boards, or would leave immediately for an appropriate job at a lateral level just to get away from your company?

If general trends hold true for your company, probably about 50% of your staff are open to a better opportunity – they’re trying to see if the grass is greener somewhere else. Of this 50%, what percentage got to the point of seeking greener pastures because they lost respect for their boss — due to no longer trusting that individual?

6 Components of a Trusting Relationship

Let’s delve a little deeper into some of the specific issues that define the level of trust between and employee and her boss. By the way, if I somehow manage to leave out a key issue that you think is important, jump right in and pose your trust issue as a comment.

Communication: I recently put up a blog post on our Leadership Community Blog regarding how communication can affect trust. The more you communicate, the higher the trust. Communication might include telling your staff the reasons behind your requests and commands, it might include tying business results to their activities, it might include conducting one-to-one feedback and coaching sessions.

Being fair: Nothing will destroy a relationship between a boss and her subordinate faster than NOT BEING FAIR. The typical example of a lack of fairness is when the boss sets different levels of performance standards for various team members. When the boss plays favorites, or frequently lets select team members “off the hook”, the rest of the team resents it and loses trust.

Rational and objective: You’ve got your emotions in check. You’re not a mercurial, table-pounding, wall-smacking screamer. You don’t “fly off the handle”. You don’t throw tantrums. The argument with your 17 year old this morning, or the driver who cut you off and then made an obscene gesture at you – doesn’t affect how you treat your people. You never criticize the person or put people down. You’re good at asking questions to solve problems and guiding/coaching your people to solutions.

Their success is important to you: Your staff respects you. They seek your advice on their career. You demonstrate a interest in their success by having occasional conversations about their career – perhaps once a quarter in your one-to-one sessions. You’re able to remove your “boss” hat and put on your “career coach” hat. You can have an deep and objective conversation about their dreams and expectations.

You “have their back”: Your staff will occasionally run into trouble with customers, vendors, suppliers, peers, and those higher up the food chain – like your boss, the board, or other peers on the executive team. Do you “have their back”? Will you stretch your neck out to protect your people. Can they go about the day doing a good job knowing you’ll always have their back.

If not, do they move through the day like frightened rodents, avoiding trouble and trying to fade into the woodwork? Are the members of your team “risk-takers” willing to do what they believe is in the best interest of the company – or do they cower behind you dumping every issue onto your back to solve?

They learn from you: A prime motivator of top talent is that they want to grow and learn. Do you help them reach their potential by giving them challenging assignments, stretching them through coaching to achieve outstanding results, providing meaningful work that is stimulating, learning-oriented, and impactful? Do you send them to classes, webinars, courses to expand their knowledge and skills? For example, do you sit down with each of your direct reports once or twice a year and develop a detailed learning plan to move their capacity to a new level?

Are you failing your team by not focusing on these six components of developing a trusting relationship? When should you decide to stop the typical insanity that takes place in most companies where trust is assumed since people show up for work everyday.

Just showing up is not indicative of trust.

Do you have a plan for how you’ll build trust with your team over the next year? Do you know what to do? If not, pick one of the ideas listed below and start down the path of building a trusting relationship with each of your direct reports.

How to build a Trusting Relationship

Could your executive or managerial team pass a test with flying colors if their staff was asked to score them on the above 6 components. If the answer is anything short of a resounding YES – then perhaps it’s time to conduct an intervention to improve trust:

  • Bring in a resource to teach how to build trust
  • Turn gaining trust into a process
  • Incorporate trust as an element when you conduct 360 degree feedback or employee satisfaction surveys (of course, this is an integral part of your employee engagement and motivation programs – right?)
  • Do you score “TRUST” when you evaluate your executives and managers annually? If you don’t score it, and it’s not a component of determining bonuses, why should anyone care? Most employees will do what you measure and reward. If trust is not measured and rewarded – they’ll assume it’s not important to you.
  • Send your executives and managers to “charm” school to learn how to develop trust with their subordinates
  • Make your team read a book about building trust and discuss it in your next staff meeting
  • Force career management discussions at least quarterly with documentation as part of the one-to-one process
  • Role model the importance of trust through-out the organization by demonstrating it continually with your direct reports (do you consciously and continuously think about building trust with each of your direct reports)
  • Freely distribute information about company performance so everyone can understand the role they play in your overall success
  • Publish and promote trust as one of the core values of your company (I assume you’ve already gone through this exercise and your values are loudly proclaimed through-out the company – handing on a banner in the lobby, on the back of business cards, posted everywhere)

If you’re not actively building and improving trust through-out your organization RIGHT NOW, be prepared for high percentage of your best performers to walk out the door as the job market turns over the issue of lack of trust – lack of respect.

Barry Deutsch

Basic Common Sense in Generating Smiles Through-out Your Workforce

Are your employees smiling or frowning?

As an Executive Recruiter, Trainer, and Hiring Process Consultant, I have the privilege of visiting over 50 companies a year and getting to know their executive and managerial teams. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years.

That’s a lot of companies.

Is Your Culture De-Motivating?

I am dumbfounded why so many company environments and cultures are de-motivating. Many company environments and cultures could be described as painful, suffocating, soul crushing and (insert here any word or phrase that conveys negativity).

These company executives then ask me why they are having so much difficulty in attracting and keeping great talent at every level. Duh!

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can climb out of the pit of a dysfunctional and de-motivating culture. It starts with the people who are in charge of managing others in your company.

I was reading one of the blogs we’ve identified as part of our best practice collection on workplace issues, The Smartblog on Workforce.

Smart Blog on Workforce - articles on how to motivate, engage, and retain employees

A guest post caught my eye talking about such fundamental basics in motivation that I wanted to slap my forehead.

Fundamental Elements of Motivating Employees

Sometimes, companies make the process of motivating employees, engaging employees, hiring and retaining great employees – for too complex and difficult.

The guest author was Arne Nathan, who publishes his own blog titled “The Arte of Motivation“.

Let me summarize a few key points that Arne made in his guest post.

  • Welcome Employees Every Day
  • Follow the Golden Rule
  • Explain “why”
  • Catch People Doing Things Right
  • Ask Questions and Really Listen to the Answers
  • Be Fair These simple guidelines or elements could transform your culture. Some of my clients instill these behaviors in their managers and executives, embed these core motivating concepts in the fabric of their culture.

Tough Questions Regarding the Motivation of Your Employees

Here are 6 tough questions that might cause you to lose a few hours a sleep. Are you asking these questions in your company? Is one of your key executives asking these questions? If no one is asking the questions, your culture might be headed in the wrong direction?

  1. Are your managers and executives required to demonstrate competency in a comparable list to the one described above?
  2. Do you train your managers and executives in how to motivate, such as applying the golden rule, or teaching them to explain the “why” of their directions/requests?
  3. What techniques do you use to teach managers and executives to catch employees doing things right?
  4. Listening is one of the most important skills a manager or executive can possess. Do you continually train around deep listening skills?
  5. If you did a 360 review, would your managers and executives get high marks for motivating or would they be tagged as de-motivating?
  6. When was the last time you gave your culture/environment a check-up from the neck up? Is it possible that there is a disconnect between how you perceive the culture and how your rank-and-file perceive it?

Implications for a De-motivating Culture and Next Steps

I’ve been crying “wolf” for sometime about the coming wave of turnover most companies are about to face as the job market begins to reverse itself from an employer’s market to a candidate’s market. We’ve got about 6-12 months before the shift occurs.

Are you ready for some of your best talent to bolt once more jobs start to open up? Now might be the time to revamp your culture and environment so that you can emerge from the recession with a highly motivated workforce.

Starting right now – what’s your first step?

  • Shoot me a note or fill out our contact form and ask for one of our audio programs on motivating and engaging your workforce.
  • If you’re a member of Vistage or TEC, have your Chair book our “You’re the Person I Want to KEEP!” Speaker Program.
  • Review the wealth of information in the Vistage Library on Culture, Motivation, and Employee Engagement.
  • Create an action plan to improve one dysfunctional element of your culture.
  • Take our Culture Survey.
  • Conduct a 360 degree review of your management team or do a employee satisfaction survey.
  • Join our LinkedIn Discussion Group for Hiring and Retaining Top Talent and benchmark yourself against some of the processes, tools, and methods other companies are using to motivate and engage their employees. These are but a few of the hundreds of things you can start to do to create a motivational foundation within your company to begin to create a passionate and engaged workforce.

To read the full article by Arne Nathan, click the following link:

How good managers keep their workers smiling | SmartBlog on Workforce

Barry Deutsch

P.S. Download our FREE Culture Assessment to discover what your culture says about your company – and your ability to hire and retain top talent (There’s a little humor built into the assessment).