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People Process Interviews: Amber Hurdle

And today, we are interviewing Amber Hurdle. Amber hurdle is the CEO of Amber Hurdle Consulting. It’s a multi-award winning talent optimization firm. They pioneers using both science and marketing principles to strengthen customers’ brands from the inside out. She really helps with costly business problems like ineffective recruiting turnover, under performance, declining morale, leadership gaps, and we are so excited to have her in the show today. 

Before we dive too deep, I want to ask you real quick, please subscribe to our podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, pretty much any pod catcher of your choice. And you can subscribe at peopleprocesses.com which will give you exclusive subscriber only content. Last week for example, we sent out sample furlough letters and updated policies around the Family’s First Coronavirus Relief Act. This is recorded 3-23. Our subscribers had sample policies 24 hours after the law passed. 

Now let’s dive in. Amber, thank you so much for being on the show. 

Thanks for having me, Rhamy. 

Well, I am just ecstatic to have you in. There’s a lot going on in the country right now. Like I said, this is a March 23 recording. This probably won’t come out until mid April. We have no idea what the situation is going to look like out there. So we’ll try to keep our coronavirus info to the minimum and instead focusing on the things that you have accomplished. Now, Amber, not many little girls and boys dress up as leadership and HR consultants when they’re eight years old to go trick or treating. How on earth did you wind up in this very strange field? That’s pretty dang busy right now.

Well as someone who dressed up like Janis Joplin for I don’t even know how many years in a row.

You know what, she inspires people, it’s leadership. There we go.

That’s right. Yeah. I think and I talked about this a lot when we talk about personal branding is, that there are breadcrumbs that you can follow if you look back on your history and see how you chose to show up in various situations, whether that’s professionally or in your family or in your social settings or volunteerism, or whatever. And you can see that there are some very specific gifts that keep popping up as something that you feel led to share with other people. And so the gifts that I have from a vantage point of really being able to see somebody for who they are or a situation for what it is.

Being a very quick thinker, being able to really put chaos into a strategic streamlined process to work through. I can create common chaos very quickly and then buy people into that solution. And then connecting people. So engagement and communication have always been things that have served. I’ve used to serve other people. And it just made sense in the end, to do that in a professional setting because I can impact more people by going into an organization or into an audience than trying to do it otherwise.

That’s very self aware, Amber, and that’s awesome to hear. But what I want to hear is you have a pretty unusual way though, right? Because if I remember from your bio, you were a teen mom. I’m kind of on a very different path than consulting with international celebrities and fortune 100 companies.

Knocking on my door back then.

Give me that story. How did you get from, you know, I don’t know. I can’t imagine the place you were in there to kind of now grown kids and rocking out all over the world.

Well, good question. I credit a lot of what I’ve learned in life to that experience. And I wasn’t like a bad girl. I was actually very involved. I mean, not to marginalize any teen mom, but I’m just saying like, I wasn’t a troubled youth. I didn’t have a troubled childhood. None of that, like I was very normal. I was on channel for news at Six and 10 for a week. Like, just weeks before I found out I was pregnant because they were featuring me and about a dozen other Middle Tennessee students because we were stable and good kids and they wanted to have conversations with us around hard things that were going on and that parents were having a hard time talking to their children about. So, it was quite the fall from grace, well, just say, I was president of this, vice president of that in school and I had to give up all those leadership. I chose to because my actions weren’t very leadership like for high school anyways. I guess the quick version of the story is I had to get out from behind the eight ball very quickly. And I had to figure out what people saw in me so that I could just pick up an extra shift at the Applebee’s or get a better job that maybe I didn’t have the education for, because I dropped out of college. I was very tuned in to what people saw in me so I can do more of that so I can find more favor and I can have more opportunities come my way. I started collecting mentors because I didn’t have the same structures in place that most people had. I mean, my parents were amazing. Don’t get me wrong. We’ll just put them aside. But most people have professors and you know, people that kind of help guide them as they start their career. And I was just kind of free falling.

Right.

So as I was figuring that out, I didn’t know that I was creating a personal brand that wasn’t a buzzword. I mean, you had a professional reputation but that wasn’t a thing back then. And I surely didn’t understand what I was doing at the time. But reflecting back on it now. That’s it. I just had to figure out what I was amazing at and I had to go out and show people and prove that that is, that’s what they should see in me, that they should see the value that I saw in me, but I had to use people as mirrors to even figure out what that was.

And and so you think that teen-mom experience really, I’ve thought about this too, my wife and I we met when we were 16, where we started dating when we were 16. We’ve been together our whole lives. Highschool sweethearts, started the company together 11 years ago and have certain experience. And having certain responsibilities in your life it’s impossible to say like what you would have done otherwise. Right? And a lot of times when I’ve had similar interviews where it’s like, “Well, what do you credit your success to?” It’s like, “Well, when I was 18, I moved out so that I could start a family with my girlfriend,” which is so weird as even at the time I was like, “There’s no way this is gonna work.” This is obviously silly stuff to do. And yet those choices put me in positions where my back was against the wall. We had to live on our $700 a month kind of budget, and it changed everything. So what do you think being a teen-mom taught you specifically about what you do now? The branding, the consulting side of what you do now?

The very first thing that it blessed me with is that humility. I don’t judge people, there’s just not room for that. So there’s always what I refer to kind of a cocci term is, there’s always judgment, free awareness and in my office or on my zoom calls, or in the opposite of my clients, so anything can be admitted, worked through. You mentioned the term self awareness. That’s what served me then. And so that is what we build on. Once we have that judgment, free awareness, then we can work to self awareness. And then it also helped me see where I fit into a bigger picture, right? Because I was only able to benefit from the collective like I couldn’t do it on my own. I had to do it in the context of other people being involved. And so when you’re looking at the personal branding, that comes from self awareness and that sort of thing. But when you talk about employer branding, you have to understand the bigger picture and you have to understand where your personal brand fits into that employer brand and the employer has to be able to understand that as well. And then, of course, just that so much was quote fixed. I’m using air quotes alone in my office right now.

I have medically diagnosed a DD. Most people don’t know that because team motherhood also forced me to really put those processes in place. I mean, that’s what I love. I love your People Processes, because people forget that, to be successful in business, to scale in business, it’s not just functional processes. You have to have people processes too. And so everything about my life was structured. It was organized. I did a budget like I literally had a ruled paper that I did each week on an effort at the bottom of the paper. It was like, “Okay, I’m negative this time.” And dollars left, I mean, it taught me to negotiate, it taught me how to be honest and to fail forward. I mean, I called my car company all the time and I told the story from the stage and just let them know like, “Hey guys, I thought I was going to have my payment this week. But here’s what’s going on. I’m working at this job. I’ll make this much money in cash. I’m anticipating getting my paycheck. it should be this much. And so by Friday, I can get you this dollar amount.” But that’s probably going to be it and to be able to just confront the brutal facts, but not just faith.

That’s a valid dragon, right? 

Yeah. Slay the dragon.

Under the notice. Right? 

Yes. I could have faced it head on, call it what it is, and then come up with your solution. And they were so gracious with me. And they did not repossess my car. And as many times as they could take a payment in the end they did because I stayed in constant communication with them even though I was in the midst of failing. So I don’t know, I mean, Rhamy, we could sit here all day about the things that I learned that have served me well now as a teen-mom but those are probably some big nuggets there.

Well. Now, you are a successful entrepreneur, you have multiple businesses. And along the way, how long when was your first business startup? How long ago was that?

Let’s see here. My very first which is not in existence anymore was 2006-2007 and I rode the wave of 2008. And came out on the other side. So I ran a very successful celebrity event planning company through the worst economic downturn in US history. Because of what you said earlier, just sheer grit. Like when your back’s up against the wall, you have to innovate and you have to make it work and my vendors and their families and their ability to feed their families were very dependent on me because I was oftentimes the number one client of theirs or their number one source of business.

That only-go system.

Yeah. And at that point I was divorced. I had two kids. I was a single mom trying to make everything work. But yeah, it was super stressful but we made it happen. And then through this whole COVID-19 situation we’re in. That’s just my stance. I was talking to my friend the other day, and he and I are just basically the same human, only he’s male. And we both were just laughing because we said we refused to participate in 2008. And we’re refusing to participate right now. I mean, I’m not ignorant and I’m not naive. I know that bad things are going on, but you can do what you can do. Instead of sitting and crying and waiting for somebody else to rescue you.

There’s an opportunity everywhere.

Always. And usually really juicy ones in the midst of chaos.

Absolutely. Well, we’ll go into that in a minute but our listeners there, they vary, their everyone from color. Students trying to figure out what they want to do up through, CEOs with a couple thousand employees to HR managers at a local plumbing shop. And I have found, in terms of our feedback, the number one thing that I get is that they learn the most when our guests tell us about their biggest mistakes. You’re rocking out now. But what I’d love for you to do is take us to the time when you had your worst entrepreneurial moment, and we’ll get to maybe what you learned about it. But really, I want you to take me to the series of events that led to that worst moment and tell me a little bit about that.

Well, I’ve had multiple business partners or strategic alliances throughout my career and probably dissolved a partnership that we got into without an exit strategy. And that was bumpy and disappointing and it broke the relationship. And I honestly don’t regret how I managed my side of it because I think that I did it with as much integrity as I possibly could. But whether you are going into business with somebody, going into a project with somebody, or even when you take on new clients or customers is really important to have everything spelled out on the front end, and it’s something that I do in my business. Now even when friends come to me and want to do business with me, I always just tell them like we’re going to sign an agreement, not because I don’t trust you or you don’t trust me, but it just immediately builds trust and we always know what the expectations are and we always have something to go back to to make sure that you’re staying the course.

Absolutely. You’re talking about support structure. I have a great family. I love them to death. But my father was a Postal Inspector. So he was a federal law enforcement. I don’t know an entrepreneur in my family. I’d never spoken to someone who owned a business. But some of the lessons that came from my dad just because he was who he was. I mean, since we were 12 years old, there was a sheet of paper on top of the fridge so I couldn’t get to it. Where we laid out any agreements we made. You’re going to take the trash out on Fridays and mow the lawn on Saturdays. Yeah, we wrote it there. And we signed it. How do we stop doing it? I loaned you 20 bucks to go to the mall because I’m a 90’s kid. It’s right there, on the sheet. And I don’t know, because of that, I just never had the fear of being like, no, we’re writing this down. It’s going. We’re both signing this napkin to a grab thing. We don’t put it in writing. It didn’t happen. I don’t know. So for you, some of your worst experiences have been around strategic partnerships and those sorts of things and their disillusion, when maybe it didn’t work out, or just the environment changed.

Yeah, I mean, I learned the hard way best, unfortunately. But when I do go through that, I do learn and I take my notes and I fail forward and turn those losses into lessons and do it better than next time. So you’ll never see me get into any type of professional situation without having very clear expectations of outcomes and what happens if something goes sideways. Because it will, I mean, we’re human, right? 

Absolutely. 

Even in a corporate environment, things go sideways, because people are involved. That’s why we have people processes.

Exactly. Actually, we’re gonna go into some more standard questions in a second, but this is just a random thought that occurs to me. I get this question from small business owners quite often or their HR people. When we’re entering into something like this. And even if it’s not a large issue like, bringing on a new vendor, or maybe you’re entering into like, a reselling agreement or a partnership, where you’re going to bring on somebody as an independent contractor, do you think that it’s necessary to involve a lawyer every time? Where do you think that you can figure it out on your own?

My best friend is a lawyer.

Ah. Cheater.

Yeah, well, no, he’s a dirt lawyer. So yeah, it’s not business law, but I’m just saying he’d probably disagree with me. But I don’t think that you need a lawyer every time and when you are onboarding even a new employee, you have your basic employee contract, if you will. And every state is different and how that shows up. But you’re going through your onboarding process that is essentially kind of an ongoing agreement of, “Okay. Here’s the job description. Here’s why we hired you. Here are the expectations. Here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s how we’re going to train you, here’s how we’re going to integrate you. And here’s how we are going to follow up on these items and measure our success.” And putting those pieces in place is the unofficial agreement of, this is what we expect, this is what you expect. We’re going to do regular check-ins to make sure that we’re on the same page. And so it’s just anytime that you want success, and you want to minimize the pain, you have to control the controllables because the uncontrollables sure are coming.

Absolutely, absolutely. That’s actually in a lot of depending on your state, as you mentioned many times it is actually a contract. 

Yeah.

Very legally binding issue. So okay, I think that’s a very good point. I just was curious if it came to me when you were talking about partnership agreements and those sorts of things. I mean, normalization you must remain a going concern. Don’t let a lawyer put you out of business. But if you don’t hire a lawyer, you may go out of business.

Yes, that’s true. That’s a tweetable.

So what we normally recommend is, of course, in people processes we do a lot of that HR consulting, we build handbooks, we build onboarding paths, all those sorts of things. And we do have attorneys we work with in those processes. And a lot of times what we do is we say, “Here’s all the sample, here’s all the build out, here’s our custom HR stuff,” but if you want it to be a contract, legally enforceable, it’s your authority saying that it’s right or you need to hire an attorney who will put their letterhead on it.

Oh, yeah. I mean, every business should have a CPA and attorney. Definitely on deck at all times. Because this, I mean, your business is a legal entity to do it all without having any type of I mean, even if you just use Legal Zoom or something, I mean.

Yeah. 

Betsy likes, just to make sure that somebody with an actual law degree is at least on call for when you have those moments.

Absolutely. Well, that’s a great story. Now what you do is in this world, it seems to be a mixture of branding and marketing, but also very focused on the HR side of things. So when a client comes to you, how do you work with these, what’s kind of your process when a client comes and works for you?

Well. So in the branding and marketing process, we use data to inform the strategy, right? So anytime you go grocery shopping and you scan your loyalty card, that’s data that informs the strategy for the grocery store that you shop with. Same thing with, if you go to Best Buy, they’re collecting data, if you click around on a website, they’re clicking data so they know how to respond to their unique customers, right? And so they create customer profiles. And that’s how they market to you and billions of dollars are committed to this every single year. And as I was really niching down so many years ago to internal Publix, from a PR perspective, I realized that you need data for that too. And so there’s different things that you can do to collect data, just homegrown things like an exit strategy or an exit interview. Rather, I’m sure you could sit here and list all the different analytics that can be done internally. But when I’m talking about my type of analytics, it’s psycho analytics. So I want to be a marketer, I want your brain, I want in your head, I want to know what your underlying needs are in a work environment. And once I know that, then I can understand those needs, then drive your behavior. And so I’ll give a personal example of this, of why this matters so much. 

So I was a young, broke teen-mom and I had the opportunity to work at a local manufacturing plant. And it was a place where people waited for years to get a job there, it was a coveted place because it was very consistent work. It paid well, there were lots of benefits. And it was just one of the most solid areas and of course, because of the relationship, I had an end. And not only did I have an end and did not have to wait at all to get a job there. I got on the first shift, not third, not second, but first and on top of it. I was put in refurbishing, which all that means is it was the most cush department you could possibly work in. I mean, it was just you didn’t have to ask permission to come off the line. You weren’t screwing anything up to go use the restroom. I mean, it was just the most lakhs you could possibly have there. So I had all of these benefits, right? It was just handed to me on a silver platter and yet I just guessed how long I lasted.

No, it sounds too good to be true. I’m thinking about two weeks.

Ah nail that. Yes. Okay, so single-broke teen-mom was working multiple jobs to barely get by and oftentimes not. It was a pretty rough season of my life. And here I was handed on a silver platter, the ability to stand every single day and unscrew a screw and put a new screw in into a TV all day long, eight hours. Now. That didn’t work for me because I have underlying needs of extreme freedom and having the opportunity to be in charge and to work independently. And I like my ideas best and I am definitely designed to be a leader. I have an extreme need to have a social environment. I need to be around other people. I need to spitball ideas. I need to bounce things off the wall with other people’s reflection. I move fast. I want ever changing priorities. I never want the same day to look the same, or various days to look the same. And I sure don’t want to be doing the same thing all day long for eight hours. That sounds like torture to me now that I’m self-aware. And I’m not a great rule follower. So I’m innovative and I like to change things up and to think of having to crawl into a box every day and stand, staying there is asinine to me now.

So yes, was that an ideal job for me? Yeah. But it’s not, could I do the job, I could physically do the job. I had the resume to do the job. I had the values that fit that company. I had the passion and the ability to show up well, but it doesn’t matter that I could do the job. I didn’t want to do the job. I would not do the job and I would not do it well over a prolonged period of time. So that was a misfire on their part. No complaints but that was not a fit for me. And this happens all the time we have people come into organizations and they look great on paper and their pedigree is awesome. Their history and where they went to school and they show well in the interview, and it’s like, “Okay.” Yeah, their values align with our company values, let’s hire them. But we never stopped to ask, like, “What are they wired to do?” And so once they’re in the organization, and you’re not getting that discretionary effort out of them, and they’re not hitting their goals, because it’s simply just not something that they’re wired to do every day. It’s like that, that 90-day comes and you’re like, “Who the heck are you, I hire this other person. And now you showed up, and I don’t know who this person is.” And that happens every day. So just like when we were putting together a marketing strategy, you have to look at the data and say, “Okay, based on this data, this is how we are going to tackle this and here’s how much market share we’re going to be able to get based on the facts.” And so when you have a business strategy, you have to look internally too. It’s not just about market share, it’s about how we are going to mobilize our people. How we are going to adapt our people processes to ensure our people strategy matches the business strategy. And once we have that people strategy now we have to kind of come up with some ideal employee profiles, just like we would come up with ideal customer profiles and marketing. And once you have that, now you’re cooking with gas. And it might be that you see this person is doing all of these things, but we might want to carve off these responsibilities and go put those with this person because they would rock that out. And that’s gonna water down this other person and what they’re capable of. So many examples I could give but sales, don’t give them admin stuff. Just go let them write, go let them hunt and let somebody else do all that behind the same stuff that is going to be painful and keep them out of selling.

So of course, when a company brings you on, you’re doing these sorts of analytics, these psycho analytics to try and determine the key focus areas for each job. Helping design some sort of interviewing or filtering process so you get to the right people. And I want to hear more about that. But could you break it down? For me? Let’s say there was a company listening right now that has five employees, and they’re going to hire their sixth. What are two or three things that they could do this afternoon in three or four hours, sit down, and really improve the likelihood of success and hiring for that position?

Yeah. Okay. So, step 1 is, review your operational goals, what are you trying to accomplish in 2020? Step 2 is, review your culture. What are you about? What type of family member Do you need to fit the family rules? Number three is to evaluate your team. What is your team great at now? What are you missing? You don’t need six of the same people. So if you’re missing, for example, a rule follower, if everybody is what we would call NPI, we have different letters for everything for predictive indexes, one of the tools I use, we would call it a vitamin D deficiency because no one has D, which is that drive for. I call it rule follower, rule breaker. That’s not the official way. But if you have a team that is maybe missing some of that, or maybe you have a team that is missing, somebody who’s really great with people and needs to be around people, then you might want to take that in consideration. And so once you have those things under control, and you have somewhat of an idea of the people strategy to match the business strategy. 

Now, everyone needs to contribute to what this person needs. Ask simple questions. Is this person going to be interacting with customers? Will they be interacting with the community? Will they be leading other people in the organization? Are they going to be sitting behind a desk most of the time? Will they be working independently? Will they have to make decisions on their own? Do they need to be more of a team player? Do they need to be more of a leader? Do you want them to follow up everybody else’s ideas or do you want them to create the ideas? Do you want them to be agents of change or do you want them to be implementer’s of change? Do you want them to be out of the box and think of different ways to do things or do you want them to just do the same thing every day? Amen. 

These are the things that will impact that person. And then once everybody has feedback on what this person needs in a work environment, now you can start playing with that language and go out there and put an awesome job description out there and not a boring like litany of responsibilities. It could be something like, “Hey, if you’re a team player, and you’re always in for the greatest good of the team, if you love talking to people every day, if you just couldn’t imagine having the same day every day and you loved diverse, exciting, changing experiences, then keep reading because this job is for you.” That is going to create an emotional connection just like we do in marketing. So we’re always trying to evoke emotion, as opposed to this job is going to have community engagement responsibilities. This job is going to lead a team. I mean, that’s just so boring. So those would be my steps. 

And then you have to think about integrating into that team. So how are we going to onboard this person based on their profile that we’ve created for them? If they’re more of an analytical person, they’re not a big people person, then maybe parading them throughout the office and doing a big round of applause and putting them on the spot on the first day in a meeting is not the way to do that. Maybe you have little mini meetings instead, one on ones, let them get acclimated. So the onboarding and then also any type of relationship that they’re going to have within the organization, have a plan for that to make sure that their manager understands what their needs are and how to specifically manage this person uniquely from other people. And then if there’s other key relationships that will be a part of that person’s professional world, then they need to be set up for success as well.

So, I think that’s outstanding. Well, I will throw a couple of hashtag compliance in there. Okay. You’re what you’re saying, sounds to me like you use psycho analytics, predictive index different tools. And surveying and again, in a small company, it’s conversations but in a larger company maybe it’s surveying and that sorts of things to determine the big five introvert/extrovert. Those sorts of things are pieces for a particular job, and then you’re using it, you’re looking at it from a marketing perspective. How do we design our advertisement, our job ad to attract the people that we think would be the best fit for this now that we know psychoanalytically what it is. So there is a skills component, but finding the right person with the right skills, being able to prove that is one step of it. The other is to design the advertisement in such a way that appeals to the people who have that right mindset and personality to succeed.

Yeah. And to your point, there are, I mean, obviously, if it’s a position that requires certifications, and things like that, all of that, I guess.

Yeah. 

Talking to your audience, I’m assuming that’s assumed. 

Yeah, yeah. 

And then there are two, let me throw this in real quick because I know that people can get in trouble. Every job posting site has very specific expectations and you can get yourself in trouble and kicked off if you do not meet those expectations. So I don’t want people just going out and, following their job descriptions, stay in line with the contractual obligation you committed to with those job posting sites.

I’ve seen that was my luggage. Yeah. And I would just make a distinction between a job advertisement and a job description. 

Yeah.

I harp on people all the time. I know it’s silly, but your job description needs to say things like be able to sit for six hours a day.

Yeah.

And in that position.

Right. 

And others like that. That’s not particularly appealing. But that doesn’t hurt. The other thing. There’s two things. There’s a job advertisement and a job description. And the job ad has its own line of compliance crap, just like you said, it’s got to have a side .it’s got to have your right EEOC stuff. There’s stuff like that. But it can still be a narrative. That is an advertisement first and foremost. And rather than advertising purely for skill or talking about the broad company culture which you see kind of in step two, they tell that in the job ad they’ll talk all about the company and how they treat their people, which is awesome. Go further and craft the advertisement to attract the type of personality. 

What they tell me.

Yeah. Well. And also to filter out the people. Literally, I I love your statement in there something like do you want every day to be different. All those sorts of statements are incredible, they’re gonna turn off the wrong people. 

Yes.

And that gives you a huge limiter there. And then I would just say in your people process design, and I’m sure you go into this in your interview process. You’re looking to try and remove the uncertainty that they would not fit right so you’re then crafting your interview around the course, verifying the skills and the abilities, but also throw some internal questions in there that show those behaviors exactly. I think that’s worth the price of admission, Ladies and Gentlemen. And if you’re a small company, you can do this now

Now Amber, of course, your company does this and I want to talk about that. But if you’re a small company, and you need to do this, you know on your own, just the mind bug that we just put there off, it’s more than skill. Take a minute and think about the personality type and the goal day. One thing that I forgot who I interviewed was about a year ago, but they talked about in their job advertisement, they would actually do and this was a larger company, but they had a video on every job type. And it was a day in the life videos, and they put a lot of effort into it. But basically, the idea was to illustrate the actual, like, what you’re doing everyday piece of it. And like to talk to people who were already in the position. And their cost was like five grand per position, because they had like a legit video company come out and write a script on a screen thing. But I had companies after that, call me up and be like, I took my cell phone around. Yeah, we did a 30-minute, we just kind of walked around and I had different people come in and tell me about how their job went every day. And we wound up with seven YouTube videos and the number of applicants went down. But our quality of applicants, I mean, every second applicant was my trouble. I couldn’t figure out how to hire so many people. They were all so good. That’s all that was going on. 

And that’s another marketing principle or branding principle rather. You want your brand to be so clear that when someone approaches your brand that they immediately think, “Yes, this is for me or no this is not for me.” You do not want to be messing around with people who are not a fit so go ahead and make sure that they self-identify as an exit stage left because it’s just more time that you’re spending in that process and more pain down the road if somebody like that slips through.

So much of people’s processes can be tied to broad operational principles like you’ve done with marketing. But you’re exactly right. I think that’s so good when you talk to a business owner, a lot of them have read a book or five about defining their niche about understanding what it is their product or service does and who their unique customer avatar is and those sorts of things. And they’ll put the time and effort into figuring that out. And then when someone comes to them and goes, “Well, I like your stuff, but I want you to do these six other things that are not at all relevant to what you do.” Most of them, at least the successful ones, get pretty quick to say, “Ah, I don’t do that.” 

Yeah. 

Jack. Jack’s a great friend. He’s awesome. He’ll handle you know. In a tight labor market, shockingly, people don’t and it’s not so much that I think they’re afraid to say no. They haven’t put the work in to define that person. As you talked about that ideal employee, that employee avatar.

And I think it’s interesting, too, that so many people will hire somebody if they can fog a mirror because it’s like a high volume, high turnover position. And I’m like, “Well, do you just love recruiting?” I mean, do you love dealing with turnover and losing money and letting it just fall out of your business because if you did this the right way then you wouldn’t have to always hire somebody who could fog a mirror because you would have more longevity. And there are positions as you know, I’m sure most of your listeners are like, “Well, Amber,” but I mean, there are higher turnover positions, right? So food and beverage, housekeeping, security, there’s lots of things that are just traditionally, you’re going to have a different type of person who has different goals for that position. But by and large, even in those positions, if you get it right on the front end, you will reduce your turnover.

What do you think would you say to someone? Let’s dive into that a little bit. Let me take an example of a home health care organization. These are normally Medicaid paid organizations that are providing in-home non-medical care for the indigent. I mean, their rates are set by the government, they may hire, they may have three or 400 employees and hire eight or 900 people a year. Yeah. What would you say to someone like them that you’re looking for someone who’s willing to wipe the butt of a sick old person. That’s the qualification. What sort of psychometrics would you think are relevant or people data or however you want to put it, that they maybe should think about at least seeing if there’s a trend or pattern in there for?

Yeah, so for that particular position, I would definitely look for somebody who’s very collaborative in their work that they love to serve another person, they love to do for others like, every single day they love to be a part of something bigger than themselves. That’s the key. I would have somebody who is moderately social but not especially so because hanging out with somebody all day, just one on one is going to definitely be different than being on a big dynamic team. And so I would probably be in the middle of the road there. I would look for somebody who was definitely a consistent person, somebody who found value and comfort and doing the same kind of work every single day. And I would definitely have somebody especially given that it would be government funded. I would have somebody who dotted every I and crossed every T, both for the safety of the person they’re taking care of, but also for the back end side of things. And then I would look for somebody who was probably a nice balance of analytical over kind of more intuitive because I think you would need somebody who could use their intuition and borrow from their previous experiences and they’re good instinct in a situation like that, but you still need for them to be somewhat analytical because of the type of work that it is. And so that type of profile, it would achieve more success and reduce turnover. Somebody who might just really need a job and accepted a position but they don’t love rules. They want to go hang out with their friends and they’re stuck wiping somebody’s rear every day that they don’t really care about because they care more about their goals and whatnot as opposed to the collective. That would just be a recipe for disaster and it’s going to hurt your brand in the end because…

I’m sorry. Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t mean to interrupt but I think just a few of those metrics, if you’re interviewing or advertising, and you’re thinking you are doing purely skills based or experience based advertisements for this job. And you start filtering just a little bit for you to hit some of the key things comfortable with somewhat repetitive work. Not as isolationist. Some of my employees, man, you give them a stack of work on the left of their desk. And on the end of the day on the right of their desk, everything is done. Oh, yeah, every box is checked and they love it. But she asked him, “Hey, I’d also like you to attend three meetings with clients.” and their eyes start to bleed. Right. So you don’t need a pure isolationist, but you also don’t need someone who’s been in Field Sales, right? Or consultation every day where they’re interacting with hundreds of people or large groups. That also is just filtering for some adherence to rote tasks, but also marginally social and an ability to accurately complete a checklist, right? To be willing to follow the rules. Just those three and you mentioned many others, which were also awesome. But those three alone, adding that level of filtering isn’t going to lower your applicant pool that much, but would make a huge impact in the long run of the quality of candidate you bring.

And so here’s like where things can go sideways, right? So if I was interviewing for that position and somebody got past the filter process, and we’re sitting in my office, and they had a long history of restaurant work, they’ve been a server at multiple different brands, Has been the large majority and they show well, they are so dynamic. And everybody on the interview team is like, “Oh, they’d be so great. They’re going to make our customers happy.” I would throw a red flag on that so quickly, because there is a reason why they are attracted to the service industry. There’s a reason why they love that dynamic, different customer tables that are turning, changing priorities every single day. I mean, the restaurant world is totally different from home health care. And so I would immediately start asking questions around what type of environments unleash their greatest potential and be very consistent and drill down on what they need in an environment. And so just because they show up and they’re super jovial and passionate, that’s great. And if they could sustain the actual work, then yes, that would probably be good for the person that they’re serving at the home. But it’s very unlikely that that person is going to be successful and stick with us. So all of that energy area, not gonna mean anything in the end.

That’s outstanding. Okay. Well, Amber, thank you so much for your insight. Let me ask you this. Let’s say someone’s listening right now. And they’re a little bit more established business and they’re thinking this is probably the missing key. Hmm. What’s going through their head or what is the triggering event that they should reach out to you for and what’s kind of the size of company you work with?

It’s interesting because I’ve got clients that I use the predictive index with who have as small as like, 17 employees. And then you have much larger companies as well. I think the cost savings on getting things right on the front end and also having a tool that can manage relationships and succession planning and all that kind of stuff is a win. By saving one mishire, you basically pay for your annual subscription.

Oh, absolutely.

So I mean, you and I know these things, but sometimes it’s a harder sell. So I would just say that if you’re frustrated with a lack of a candidate pool and up until this crisis that we’re in, there are eight applicants for every open position in the United States of America, according to the US government. So just attracting people is a challenge if you’re frustrated with that. If you’re frustrated with turnover or if you really just want to ensure that your team is performing at peak performance and that you’re getting that next level out of your team because you have really big goals, then that’s the time to call me. I’m not the best person for the status quo. I’m better for more challenging environments. I’m good for we’ve got really big goals and we’ve got to get to them. I like that kind of stuff. So if you feel like you’re in a little bit of chaos or if things are super dynamic and you need some processes put in place that are fun and everyone will buy into because everyone loves learning about themselves and how that relates to other people. If you need somebody who’s a little bit of the mediator between senior leadership and your frontline, I am definitely your girl and my team is eager to especially help now as people are having to make hard decisions. They’re having to cut the fat and maximize what they’ve got and this tool will help you be far more strategic and doing that.

And as we talked about at the beginning, there’s an opportunity and everything. 

Yeah.

Some of these are just absolutely devastating layoffs and those sorts of things for companies. But some companies are in a position where this is the opportunity to clean house, get clean, keep your best, reward them, reset, and then go forward. If you have a lot of people who aren’t fitting in your positions, now may be the time to start really looking hard at either reshuffling them or finding new people. So well reach out to you. I’m certain.

I’m sorry. I was just saying you have to keep the long game and write by two because it’s highly likely that many companies are going to have to rehire people that they furloughed or laid off. And so what’s your plan? Like, how are you going to do that and how are you going to ensure that you leverage that opportunity for the highest and best use of the organization that serves its employees and all of your customers? So I’ve been doing some videos lately on YouTube and that is my biggest message right now whether it’s this crisis or a future crisis is don’t forget the long game. We’re all in this together so stay strategic.

So to reach out to Amber, go to amberhurdle.com. That’s A M B E R H U R D L E.com, link at people.processes.com. She’s also available in /amberhurdle at Amber Hurdle on Twitter and on Facebook, AmberHurdlefan. I also love your Instagram at the Velvet Machine. Check her out on there, definitely worth following great info coming on all those media. Amber, thank you so much for coming on the show today. We really appreciate your time.

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

Ladies and gentlemen. I hope you learned a ton. I hope you’ve been inspired to take some action. Now it is time for you to go out there. Have a great day and get your work done.

Learn more about Amber Hurdle here:

https://amberhurdle.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AmberHurdleFan/

https://twitter.com/amberhurdle

https://www.linkedin.com/company/in/amberhurdle/

About the author, Rhamy

Rhamy grew up watching and working with his mother and grandmother in the senior insurance market. This familiarity with the struggles faced by people trying to navigate the incredibly complicated and heavily regulated healthcare market led him to start Poplar Financial while working on his degree at the University of Memphis. After completing his MBA and Bachelors in Finance and Economics, Rhamy guided Poplar Financial through the disruptive opportunity that is the Affordable Care Act. Since then Poplar Financial has received numerous awards from major insurance carriers and has completed its fourth year in a row of doubling in size. Now his team focuses on the processes around human resources and specializes in providing companies with between 20 and 1000 employees with the payroll, benefits, and HR needs.

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