Starting Y
Starting Y

Episode 19 · 4 months ago

Hiring strategies with Mitch Gray


“Over my career, I have had more than 5.000 employees” Mitch Gray, Author of 'How to Hire and Keep Great People'

This is the second interview with Mitch on HR topics. In the first episode (which was published just before this one) we talked about hiring people. Now we talk about the strategies behind hiring.

Our Intro is based on Quantum Jazz’s piece “Orbiting a distant planet”, published under Creative Commons

Our Guest:

  • Mitch Gray is an entrepreneur, author, and podcast host. His focus in all activities is on hiring the best people. He published the book 'How to Hire and Keep Great People' and is for more than 7 years now a leadership and development guide, helping companies to hire great people and keep them
  • His book 'How to Hire and Keep Great People' buy it here (AL)
  • Host of The Mitch Gray Show

The Host:

  • Jörn is a podcaster, startup scout, consultant, and entrepreneur, who is based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He has a background of more than 12 years of management consulting but spends most of his time helping international investors and corporations to find, cooperate with and invest in startups in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. He hosts an English startup podcast, covering the German startup scene ( You can learn more about “Joe” here:

You can suggest questions here, use #startingy

Twitter Michelle:

Twitter Jörn:

Or send us a message via Anchor:

This is a starting why podcast. Here we ask entrepreneurs, actors, investors in the native and hartist on the why why they are doing what they are doing, what motivates and drive them and why can't they stop? We will start in five, four, three, two, one. Hey, guys, welcome back to starting why. This is Joe and I have again in our second episode here, Mitch Gray. Hey hid in. Hey Joe, good to talk to you again. Totally my pleasure, and we Mitch Hell, our audience that I'm recording this year from Frankfurt in Germany, and you are in New Mexico, actually place where you have enough altitude to see some snow in the winter. Right, that's exactly right. We get snow a few days ago. It's all melted off by now because it's funny today, but yeah, it was quite a storm a few days ago. Very good for our audience. Actually, we only took a break for taking a deep breath and then we started again. But we've been talking more than thirty five minutes in the first recording, so I thought let's cut this into two pieces, and now we're back here at part two off our interview and actually you have been a great guess in the first episode and we talked about how you find people to interview. We've talked about the interview process and how important the question is. Ay, just tell me something about you, but now we want to go into, like a little bit the framework behind it. How do you approach your clients recruiting strategy, your clients strategy to carve out rolls, to fill them, and what are the usually mistakes you're seeing there in small and medium enterprise, US small businesses, startups, how they were recruiting? Yeah, great, great questions, Joe. First of all, I want to identify the mistake, because this is something that I see far too often and I've made the mistake in the past. It's really where I learned. Is Most people hire out of desperation, and so another words. What I mean by that is they know they need people, they don't know who they need, they don't necessarily know why they need them, and so they just hire warm bodies to come in and get a job done. And the reason that's dangerous is when you hire out of desperation, number one, you you usually get it wrong. So when we're hiring we want to make sure that word we have clarity on our culture. So our culture means the way we live, move and exist. It's more than just our product or our function. It's actually how we want to treat others, how we want our team members to treat others, how we want to treat our custom summers and... we really want to engage. And so, let's say someone has created a culture of positivity, of customer service, of positive energy, of empowerment. They want to make sure that every single person they hire a lines with that culture. When you hire out of desperation, which is a great mistake, you're usually going to forget that you need to hire someone that aligns with that culture. And so for our audience, who is start up founders, they're starting a new business, oftentimes they can look at it and go why I'm going to do? You know so much volume and business. I know I need twenty employees, and they just go hire the first twenty people they can find. And that's where the mistake can happen, because you're never going to catch up from that. So in the last episode we already talked about recruiting strategies. So I want to identify how do you make sure you find the right people? Number one, it's having clarity on your culture. You should be able to tell me intend words or less what your culture is about. Number two is having clarity on your mission and vision. Why are you investing in this product? Why are you introducing this product to the world? How is this product going to help others? Knowing that mission and vision is so valuable. And then you're going to begin, as we alluded to in the last episode, you're going to begin creating your perfect employee persona. You're going to create an imaginary person that would be your perfect employee overall. If they have this type of personality, they aligned with our culture because of you know, a being. See their positive they enjoy doing creative things, they have these types of hobbies. You're just going to sit with your leadership team or, if you're by yourself, sit by yourself and create this perfect teammate per sauna. Make it as perfection as possible, like reach for the stars here, and from that. Once you have that Persauna, then you begin identifying roles. Now I'm going to use the word roll in two ways. You have job function, so you may need a social media expert on your team. That's a job function role. But you also have team member roles. So, in other words, you need different types of people on your team. You need introverts, you need extroverts, you need outgoing people, you need people that are always walking in at the day and they're just like a ray of sunshine, and then you need people that are a little bit more mild. You need that balance on your team, because everyone is going to play a role within your team. And so after you create your perfect teammate per sauna, you're then going to create your perfect team roles. So you have a team of twenty people. How can you find balance within that team? Different Cultures, different UPBRINGINGS, different personalities, different ideas, all aligning within your culture. You're then going to identify the different functions of your company. So let's say your head you have this startup, you know your...

...product, you're ready to roll out. You're starting the company. What are the top ten job functions within your business, and who do you need and those job functions? You need a social media person, you need a code or you need a website builder, you need an assembly person. So you're going to identify each of those positions and functions and give priority to those. Which one of these do I need first to really begin implementing and growing my business. Plus would I, as a consultant, would add here, especially for the small, very small and very cash trap businesses, that is a point where you all so need to decide if you cannot work, for example, with temporary employees, we cannot outsource it to an agency, to a virtual assistant or something like this. For example, a prime example is here social media. We can have somebody as a virtual assistant working for you for much less money then you would like having somebody hired here on site. That is something also many people fail to do. But if you hire a virtual assistant, yet should be thinking about he or she should stay with a company for some time so they understand the company culture. They do the right tweets, they do the right posts. Plus, they have to be team member. It's not just, Oh, this person's it's somewhere I don't know and I'm just checking my check box if he or she made ten tweets a week. You're exactly right, Joe, and and I'm glad you pointed that out, because when you're prioritizing those job functions, one of the questions you can ask is, do I need this person full time. Does it make sense, or can I actually contract this out through a virtual assistant? And the other question that so many people miss is they can often hire people based on projects, and so they don't. They don't have to hire every one of their team full time. If they have twenty job functions, I would say problem. Potentially eight to ten of those could be virtual assistant, higher than project by project, because for a cash trap startup that is always a great investment. But you also made another great point, and that is even when you hire a freelancer or va, a remote worker, they must align with your culture. That's why that's the first step we took in this process, is clarifying your culture. Everything filters through that, and so you're exactly right that that is a part of that prioritization. And so then you make it down to five positions that you know you need part time or full time employees, and that's when you put into practice everything we talked of in the last episode about recruiting and interviewing. But really it has to be done step by step. And so many times what happens when someone starts a business is they...

...have a product, they believe in the product, they want to make it happen and so that they find the resources that they need to make it happen financially, but they never take the time to actually develop their culture, their mission, their vision and then identify who they really need on their team, because if you're going to scale any business you're going to eventually need some help in some form. And so those are really some of the steps that people often miss and what I found beforking with clients because I had businesses that have been in existence for forty years and they never worked through this process of a developing a culture, understanding who to hire, clarifying who they need. So forty, fifty years into the business, they've just been gambling this whole time and they've been building business, but they're very frustrated, they're very stressed, and so for startup leaders, take those steps in the beginning. I would advise that creating your culture is the single first step you should take, because that culture becomes the foundation of sustainable success. So yes, Joe, when you get ready to prioritize your job functions, some of your questions should be this. Is this a full time position or is this a position I can freelance is this a part time position or is this a position that needs to be full time? And Ask yourself those questions, because that's really going to set you up for success in the future. Last personal recommendation. What I found in a specially working with more flexible startups, is you get a very valuable employee at a very cheap rate, part time WHO's really invested in the business and stays quite for quite some time. If you take a mom who's just doing part time, and especially if you allow her or it may also be a stay at home dead if you allow him or her to work from home. For example, I had this with a one of the best assistance I've ever worked with. She stayed until two PM, then she went to pick up her daughter and then in the evening she started again, working completely flexible. She did an awesome job. Plus she was staying with the company for years, in US and years, because nobody else would give her this flexibility, even though, for her qualification, she could earn a little bit more somewhere else. You're one hundred percent right, Joe, and I would encourage people to keep employees part time as long as possible. So in your scenario, find those people first, I do believe that there's a startup today. They underrate the expense of a full time employee, and so it's not just high and know. But you know, when you hire someone full time, really you're now competing with other markets that may eventually offer them more money. Now we do know, like you just mentioned, if someone is in...

...the right environments and they feel and Poward and they feel like you're working well with them, they'll stay and not necessarily take more money somewhere else. But what I've learned is similar to your experience. When you hire someone part time, they're normally much more lenient if they're in a really good environment because they do value that flexibility so much. You know that the greatest demographic that I think people under value is college or university students, and I know in some parts of the world that may be different, but I used to love hiring college students because they usually needed to be part time. They were normally great workers because they had expenses they had to pay for and they also wanted a future career and so they were looking to potentially grow with you. So they would stay three, four, five, six years and move up, and so those are very valuable. But again we've just used the system that we talked about in the last episode, and that is identify who you need, why you need them, and then go find them. And so those part time people you know just starting to learn where to kind of find those people. That could be a great asset to your business. And I agree with you one hundred percent. If you're looking at your job functions, I would filter it this way, project by project. So set aside the things that you can just tire a freelancer to do on a oneop situation, value that, value virtual assistance and then value part time people, and those three elements can take you further than I think most people realize. Lus what's also important if you have a virtual assistant somewhere in the world, if you have a freelancer that you've worked successfully with in the future, the time they need to get into new role, if you hire them again, is much less than it would have been like getting an external employee on speed here. One hundred percent. Yeah, one hundred percent. I actually just finished recently a free curriculum on how to hire remote workers and freelancers, and we dive into that quite a bit because, I mean the great thing about today's Day and age, with technology it is you can hire someone in Japan or Canada or Indonesia virtually or a freelancer, and there are so many great people out there that will do a great job. And the other thing is I had, I've said, quite a few friends who have been in the startup industries and they started their teams as freelancers and remote workers and eventually the majority of those came on as full time as their company grew. And so, to your point, if you hire a remote worker or freelancer and they do a couple of projects for you and they do a really good job, that when you do have an opening, you can actually recruit from within and oftentimes those people might take that that opportunity, and so that's a great set up as far as a system for success. Actually, I'll to found that a lot of companies...

...higher successful people by getting into rim staffing and keep those people hired them from the company away to fill the role they already do because you know they those people really can do it. Yes, and there's also temporary staffing services, those type of services as well, and they're great to use. The one challenge that you can find in using those types of strategies is again ensuring that those people really aligned with the culture that you've built. You never want to settle and you never want to hire out of desperation. You always want to be very proactive in that. But but yeah, there and that's what we say, where there's so many tools at people's disposal. You know, Joe, and you've probably heard people say it, that they can't find people. It's like we keep you know, there's no one to hire. And I'm just thinking in fifty minutes you and I've given people so many strategies they used to find amazing people. The reality is so many business leaders just simply aren't doing it. And so that's that's my biggest encouragement to people building a startup is create those habits and those strategies and those routines early on so that those actually become a part of your business. DNA, they become a part of your culture. We're always recruiting, we're always looking for great people, were always looking for opportunity and if you can create that early on, it just becomes a habit and that's what you really want for Your Business. Exactly, exactly. So the only piece left for us right now is how to think this forward, how to think about your hiring strategy. You have those teams, as you said, would have found very interested. Very important is look at balanced, look at the different backgrounds. For example, if I do says, it would be completely different than when you do sells will be completely different when my wife does sales, and each of them is equally right if those people are within your potential customer group. So always think about there is diversity any potential customers and your sales team, your customer service, has to reflect that. But now, thinking about doing this a little bit forward, thinking strategically, not only about one team, thinking strategically about the growth of your company and your hiring framework, your strategy to develop people. How would you start with the client to approach that? Yeah, that's again thank you for asking our question. Great leaders are visionaries, and so they're great leaders. Aren't responding to what's happening, they're actually engaging and what's going to happen in the future. And so we've laid the baseline and foundation for some recruiting strategies and some higher and really my response to that, Joe's pretty simple.

That question is the exact reason that you never stop recruiting, that you never stop engaging. It has to be a consistent, persistent action that you take all the time, because the reality of a team and a business is it's always growing, it's always evolving, things are changing, as we've experienced in the last three years, things can change really quickly, and so the mistake that so many people have make is they start their business, they build their team and then they stop building their team. There's so focused, they're satisfied with who they have, but then they become stagnant in building forward. And so my most simple rule would be for people, as far as forward thinkings, never stop building, never stop looking for more opportunity, never stop looking for that next great team member, because you're always going to have someone that's leaving, you're always going to have someone that needs to make a change. And when you talk about reflecting your customer base and reflecting your product, that evolution of continually looking to add people, continually looking for opportunity. You may not add them right away, but you're always building relationships to potentially add someone new. That mindset and forward thinking and vision and it's most simple form, is what will propel your forward because you never stopped considering tomorrow, what things are going to look like in six months, what things are going to look like in a year. And I know that's a really simple response, but I believe to keep it that simple is actually very powerful. I've built my team, I've built my business, but I'm going to continually create and look for opportunities to bring those great people aboard. And again, I want to reiterate, you may not bring them aboard right away. I'd had people that I've recruited for three or four or five years before I'd actually hired them, and that's happened many times, and so you have to have that long of a vision for Your Business to end in order to have that forward thinking. That usually is, at least in my understanding, a problem for many people because they totally don't have any clue where this is going. Right. That's exactly right. They don't have a strategy to it and they just they build and then they stop and and that's what eventually kind of kills them off in a way. I have to admit for me right now this is also pretty difficult because my plants tend to change quite a lot. When you really, really early on. But at one point, when you have a team of twenty, fifty people, you should have a tradectory for further growth. You should have a plan how to do it. I totally get why very early, as specially Prev of these startups don't have that plan yet and if they... have it, it's a complete illusion. Yeah, there is a reality to deal with. Right, there's a reality, and that's why startups are hard. I need startups and startups aren't easy because things do change and things don't work out the way you plan them. But I will say I want to go back to culture, and I know we're kind of wrapping up some things here, but I want to go back to culture. What we just identified is why culture is so prevalent and relevant and so important, because when those moments of change and evolution take place, you want to have something you can depend on, and that something is your culture. What do we believe in? How are we functioning? Do we truly believe in this product, in this business? And if we do, then we're going to fight through these moments of challenge and controversy. But that foundation of culture really becomes what you build on, especially during those moments that it's very tenuous because, again, a startup is not for the faint of heart. There will be growing pains, but also having some of that vision gives you some hope, you know, and those moments that it's very challenging, it's like, yeah, but wait a second, why am I doing this? I'm doing it because I'm passionate about it. I'm doing it because I love it, I'm doing it because I believe I'm going to help make people's lives better, whatever your reason is, to hang on to that and then to pass that to those people as you bring them on is really what can be the oxygen. It gives you life during those moments of challenge. Very interesting thoughts. I do believe that pretty much should wrap it up, right. I think so, Joe. We've covered a lot. Yeah, we've. I think we've given people some really strong strategies to move forward with. Yeah, and if not, there will be a link down here in the show notes to your linkedin profile, you of course, will share with me soon after this recording, and your website where people can reach out to you, as well as you twitter account, so people can follow you. Yes, I love it. Yeah, please follow me, reach out to me many of the strategies that you heard and these episodes are exactly what I share on Linkedin especially. And so, yeah, we have a many other opportunities to engage as well. Yeah, sounds pretty good then, Mitch. Actually he came on to do one little podcast for something like twenty five minutes and now the final recording of those two recordings we did in just one row will be more than an hour. So thank you very much. Greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Joe. I loved it. Guys, have good day and tune in again when we talk on starting why about building your mental framework? Thanks, guys. By Bye.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (23)