Scott Whiteford

Talent Plus Director of Leadership Analytics Dr. Scott Whiteford

Dr. Scott WhitefordDirector of Leadership Analytics

Today on the show we are joined by Dr. Scott Whiteford, Director of Leadership Analytics at Talent Plus, a strength-based management company that is rooted in positive psychology. Their mission is centered on understanding an individual’s greatest strengths and how best to utilize those strengths, both for selection and development. In our conversation, we delve into what it means to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses, the importance of self-reflection, and how to become increasingly specialized as you progress in your career. Scott also shares his advice for young people on how to discover their strengths, the importance of looking at the whole person when you want to hire successfully, and how to form a constructive partnership with your hiring manager.

Episode Transcript


[0:00:06.1] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the frontline’s modern recruitment.

[0:00:12.8] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions, where are they willing to take risks and what it looks like when they fail.

[0:00:22.7] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment, VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.

[0:00:31.1] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings, I got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

[0:00:39.7] MALE: Talent acquisition, it’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization, you get to work with the C-Suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between, and everybody knows you.

[0:00:53.0] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson and you’re about to hear the best in the biz, Talk Talent to Me.


[0:00:59.0] RS: Here with me on Talk talent to me today is the Director of Leadership Analytics over at TalentPlus, Dr. Scott C. Whiteford. Scott, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?

[0:01:09.0] SW: I’m doing well. It’s a pleasure to be here, Rob.

[0:01:11.0] RS: Really thrilled to have you because you have a kind of unique role compared to some of my other guests. So that will make for an exciting conversation. I’m sure. Before we get too deep in the weeds, would you mind sharing a little bit about talent plus the company with whom you work?

[0:01:25.0] SW: Sure thing, Talent Plus, is a strength based management company rooted in positive psychology. So the idea is that we want to understand your greatest strengths, and then how we can best utilize those strengths, both for selection and development, all the way from leaders to frontline folks. So that sweat town plus gets to do, I’m lucky enough to be the Director of Leadership Analytics, which basically means that I work with executives on coaching them on working with their teams to build strong, unified teams and their organizations to build a strong culture. It’s basically short for I have a fun job.

[0:02:03.0] RS: Great, I love the attitude. How did you find yourself in this kind of position?

[0:2:07.0] SW: Actually, this is really the only job I’ve had since graduate school. So I was in graduate school and sociology, which is basically the study of how people interact with each other. So rather than just looking at the individual, like a psychologist does, which is boring. We like to look at sociologists at the teams at the organizations that time in place. And so one of the things that really drew me to talent plus is understanding leadership is really cool. But understanding the context of their team and their organization is even better. So I was naturally drawn to Talent Plus, which is located in the same great city as my university.

[0:02:47.0] RS: What great city is that Prieto?

[0:2:49.0] SW: It is Lincoln, Nebraska. So a bunch of Husker fans running around here being January, of course, it’s a lot of white out there. But during the summer, or during the fall, I should say there’s a lot of red running around here. So Lincoln, Nebraska.

[0:03:03.0] RS: I’ve never been to Nebraska, but I hear it’s so flat that you can watch your dog run away for miles.
[0:03:08.0] SW: I believe the quote actually is, I watched my dog run away for three days. It’s funny, though, in Lincoln, it did get a little bit of the rolling hills. My brother and I are runners, he’s actually a real runner. And we run together in Portland, Oregon, where I live, which is relatively flat, the part of town I live in. A funny thing in Lincoln is that there’s a lot of rolling hills right around here. And he quips that running and Lincoln is where he gets his hill workout coming from Portland. So it’s a little bit misleading, but still kind of fun.

[0:03:41.0] RS: You don’t really notice topography until you are riding a bike or running along. I’ve found it historically. I’m a Midwestern boy myself, so I understand what it’s like to stand on top of a stepstool and see the entire state one of those boring II states, it doesn’t matter which one, but in any case, here you are at Talent Plus, and I’m curious what this coaching tends to sound like and look like. Firstly, I would love to know what kind of companies you work with? Who are your customers? And then how does that relationship tend to kick off?

[0:04:12.0] SW: So it’s interesting that customers generally are organizations from about 2500 to upwards of 25,000. So not usually really small organizations and generally not really large organizations, either. The types of folks, the companies that we work with, are really interested in how they can help their employees, their leaders, their managers, and their frontline folks be more successful. They really most of the clients when they come on, understand the value that people play in their organization. And so we get a lot of companies that are looking to make a difference, not only in their employees’ lives but to increase revenue and once they understand the value that employees play, they lots of times find us or we find them through mutual friends, so to speak. So most of our organizations look kind of like that.

[0:05:11.0] RS: What do you ask of folks when you’re trying to take stock of their team and their needs? How do you elicit information?

[0:05:18.0] SW: Yeah, so we actually build assessments and interviews, think of surveys that identify the different strengths, that individuals have either that leadership or manager or other positions, and then how to utilize those strengths. So our goal is to really find what it is that makes individuals successful and given roles. And for that matter, you can have two individuals that approach a role a little bit differently, and they both be successful. It’s a different way of looking at leaders or managers or frontline folks than just knowledge, skills and experience. In fact, I often use a Mercedes Benz star, of course, you know, the Mercedes Benz star, it has three areas, and the top right area, the top right part of the star is knowledge, skills and experience. So maybe the knowledge you’ve accumulated, it could be advanced degrees, it could be project management certificates, but the knowledge that a leader has accumulated. Skills, it could be they’re really awesome at PowerPoint, or they’re really awesome at Microsoft Word or something like that a skill that they can develop and then experience, leaders make different decisions now than they did 10 years ago with the same lay of the land, because knowledge, skills and experience are so important. But that’s just one part of the star. And in fact, I often tell my leaders to focus on areas of weakness up there, if you don’t have the right knowledge or skills or experience, let’s get it for you. The bottom part of the star is fit, or cultural enhancement, do you fit into an organization could be with your leader could be with parallel folks, it could be with people who report to you, it might even be the location. So fit is an important and dynamic part of understanding leadership. And then the top left part of the star is the talent, what we’re talking about here, understanding people’s strengths. So understanding if they’re excellent at building relationships, or they’re highly empathetic, or they’re positive or focused. And so we try to understand that part of the star, and bring it all together for our organizations that we work with to get a complete picture of the individual or the leader. And on that part, we focus on strengths.

[0:07:41.0] RS: So you mentioned the bias toward positivity or just even positive psychology as the foundation of the support you’re providing. Can you explain a bit more about that? What makes it the more positive angle? I guess, let’s start there.

[0:07:45.0] SW: Well, it’s funny in the business world, for whatever reason, we like to focus on weaknesses. And I often use the example of athletics, where people really focus on strengths. Do you know a gentleman by the name of Steph Curry? Oh, yeah, heard of him. Okay. So Steph Curry, would you say Steph Curry is an all star basketball player? Absolutely. Is he a complete basketball player? How good is his rebounding? We will never know. We’ll never know. So rather than focus on his weaknesses, rebounding, probably blocking out grabbing the ball from Southern seven foot center. His coach focuses on his strengths, shooting long range shots, passing the basketball, and understanding the defense. For whatever reason, in the business world, we would say to Steph Curry, well, you know what, you’re not a complete basketball player. So we’re gonna have you practice boxing out all practice. Because until you do that better, you’re kind of average. I mean, you’re a five star on these parts, but you’re really only a one star over here and average altogether, you’re not very good. Well, of course, that’s not what they do. And so we take the same approach. We’re looking for the Steph Curry and the Shaquille O’Neal and someone like maybe even a Dennis Rodman and how are they different? And how can we accentuate where they’re strong and understand where they’re weaker and build compensatory strategies.

[0:09:18.0] RS: So let’s someone hear this and think themselves? Oh, great, I can ignore all my weaknesses and never improve and I can just be fundamentally broken in those ways. Where is it? Okay, you need to point someone towards these are things you do need to shore up these these faults you have versus Okay, forget about getting 1% better at something that you don’t need to index on and instead focus on your strengths.

[0:09:41.0] SW: So there’s a mix. It has a little bit to do with the organization. And I’ll give an example. But I can also make a comparison to some places like how talent plus operates, but, you know, in a given organization, if I am a columnist for the local newspaper, and I don’t write very well, that’s gonna be a problem. And that might be a weakness, and it might just be a deal breaker. But in most jobs, and certainly within most organizations, there’s a blend within the role. So my role at Talent Plus, say, there’s 20 things I need to do. And I’m probably pretty bad at half of them, I’m probably pretty good at the other half. The organization, like Talent Plus, will say to me, okay, Scott, you’re not very good at these things. So we are going to reduce the amount of time you need to spend doing them. And we’re going to increase the amount of time you get to be on podcasts, for instance, something you do pretty well, hopefully, your listeners will be the ones to determine the outcome of that. But so within TalentPplus, it’s really about the way that this organization operates, if you are, have the potential to succeed in a given job, and it’s not working well, let’s look at what it is with that job. And are there other jobs? Or is there a blend of jobs that you can do to be successful? So there’s a bit of a mix, it’s not all that if you can’t write, and you’re going to be a columnist, well just ignore your weakness, it’s really more of how can we find that blend, where you don’t have to celebrate that weakness as much.

[0:11:15.0] RS: Would that wouldn’t example of a weakness you need to shore up maybe be soft skills, because I’m thinking if you’re, if your deficiency has an adverse effect on others around you in the organization, probably it’s just selfish, to not do something about it, right?

[0:11:31.0] SW: It does. But it’s interesting, because when we say soft skills, a lot of times we’re talking about that talent piece that I had up in the corner there of the Mercedes Benz star, when I coach, my leaders, and sometimes their CEO, sometimes they’re directors of, of HR, whatever it is. And I asked them about to rate their team from top to bottom, say they have seven people, rate them top to bottom on productivity rate from top to bottom on difficulty to replace, and rate them top to bottom on positivity. The area we spend the most time coaching is on that positivity piece. And the folks that are generally negative, it’s very difficult to turn that ship dramatically to take somebody who’s really negative and make them really positive, we just don’t see that type of result. And so if one of my leaders is working with a person, and they put them on a performance improvement plan, if that performance improvement plan has to do with knowledge, skills and experience, we can see some great improvement. If that poor performance improvement plan has to do with a talent mismatch, it’s likely it’s going to continue to fester.

[0:12:43.0] RS: Can I ask you something about performance improvement plans? That has always been a little bit of a bee in my bonnet?

[0:12:49.0] RY: Please. It is mine too.

[0:12:51.0] RS: Is a performance improvement plan, a genuine good faith attempt to save an employee? Or is it a boss making a case to fire an employee?

[0:13:00.0] RY: In my experience, and we don’t see them? In a lot of the organizations I work with 80% of the time. It’s just a way to document because we need I tried to save them. Yeah, I do think 20% of the time there’s a genuine interest. And that’s where I’ll talk to them about is it a mismatch on the talent piece? Or is it a lack of knowledge, skills and experience because likely can predict the outcome if you have a mismatch on the talent piece. And you know, there’s different ways that leaders can be successful. I worked with one small community hospital where the President was warm and empathetic, listened a lot, did not have sharp elbows, had good vision, but not greatly focused and hit all of the metrics that she needed to hit and exceeded those metrics. Her boss, the CEO, was the discipline people, the beatings will continue until morale improves the sharp elbows. And I would ask him, and so he continually wanted to put her on a performance improvement plan, because he thought that she could perform even better if she were more like him. And I said, Well, what about the metrics, let’s look at the metrics.

And he just ignored him and eventually put her on a performance improvement plan and then fired her. And yet you take a step back and she was winning Super Bowls, and you’re trying to find out is this. How does this match? So 80% of the time I completely agree with you on pips. How can you tell the difference? I think I can tell the difference. Well, sometimes it’s the luckily I don’t run into this very often. But sometimes it’s the language. I have had leaders telling me Well, I have to do this. It’s a requirement. They’ll even bring up state law and stuff. And I don’t know I’m not a lawyer. But it’s more I can tell if it’s going to be successful, basically by what they’re trying to do with a performance improvement plan, but it’s not really part of our lingo. So luckily I don’t really work with leaders too much that that utilize those.

[0:15:04.0] RS: Yeah, if they’re saying things like HR law requirement that feels like, okay, we’re just kind of dotting our eyes and crossing our T’s before we can this person. What about on the other side? What about on the receiving end? The reason I’m asking you all this, because is because I have this fear. Like, if you’re put on a performance improvement plan, start tweaking your resume and looking for it. That night, like you got about two weeks left before you’re gonna be doing it anyway, you might as well do it on company time. So but but maybe there is a way forward, maybe you do have a future at the company, if it’s the 20%. If you’re on the receiving end of a pip, how can you tell if you’re getting ready to be fired? Or if maybe there’s still a chance for you.

[0:15:43.0] SW: Listen very carefully to why it is that this performance improvement plan has come about. What is it that’s driving it? And if you do that type of root cause diagnoses, you’ll find that it’s probably the 80%. I mean, if it’s just that, if it is a bad fit with your boss, maybe you like the example of the community hospital I just gave, there was nothing that person could have done, the President could have done to save her job, even though she was performing at a very high level. There was nothing she could do. And actually, when I talked to him, I, I said, What do you really think’s going to happen because he would put her? You didn’t call them pips at that level, they don’t call them pips, but just improvement areas. And I said, you’re doing that you have the exact same improvement areas every year for eight years, what makes you think this time, it’s going to be different. If you’re on the receiving end of that, I would take a very close look to see what it is and why they’re giving it to you. Because unfortunately, it probably is just the crossing T dotting eyes type of thing.

[0:16:48.0] RS: Yeah, and I think you probably know, in your gut, which it is, if you’ve had a prickly relationship with your boss from the beginning, if you’ve repeatedly missed targets, they probably don’t believe you’re suddenly going to become their version of a model employee, right? So pick receiver beware is it guess what I’m saying? Like, it is not the time for you to suddenly get your act together and start sprinting right at the buzzer to try and make up for your perceived deficiency over the last two years or whatever, just find a new job, completely agree. Now with the strength based approach, where you try to get better at the things you’re already quite good at, because that is a bigger marginal improvement than shoring up the things you’ve not indexed on in your career. Do you then believe that is crucial for professionals to specialize and that maybe you wouldn’t prescribe the generalist approach to kind of being a Swiss army knife?

[0:07:36.0] SW: I would agree completely with that statement. And I think as one gets older, I’m 50. And when I was 40, I was an old young person. And now I’m 50. And I’m a young old person, I’m thinking wait, what just happened. But as I progress in my career, I actually become more specialized even within the role that I have here at talent plus, and so by becoming more specialized, I tend to do more and more things that I really enjoy the things I look forward to. And so if you can end up, you listener can end up in a job, where you’re doing more of what you’re really good at, and less of what you’re not so good at, rather than a Swiss army knife, you’ll find more enjoyment. If you really deep down believe you can do all I gave the example of 20 things, there’s 20 things I’m supposed to do on my job, I could probably only do 10 of them well. If you think that you can do all 20 well, you’re probably not doing all 20 Well with excellence. So I would even encourage folks to, to specialize not when you’re 22. But certainly when you get later on in your career, and I think most people probably do.

[0:18:51.0] RS: Yeah, I think that’s normal. You try lots of things out early in your career, you find what you like, and what you’re good at, you try to do less of the things you don’t like, and you’re not good at. But a lot of people I fear find themselves in a position where they could identify things about their job that they don’t like, or they’re not good at. But you kind of have no choice but to toe the line a little bit. Do you just start bringing these things up with your manager? How do you just have to suck it up and get it done? How would you advise someone to proceed in that situation?

[0:19:21.0] SW: I teach a couple of classes at different universities on basically this. So I’m usually working with MBA students who a lot of them are early in their careers, obviously. And we talk about the fact that you need to take direction, you need to take the reins of your career. You should not be allowing your boss to dictate your career. And so frequently, I encourage them to have career discussions with their boss early on in their career where they want to go if the if your boss, most bosses, I think mostly readers are receptive to hearing that type of information you’re hearing where their their folks want to go, of course, you’re going to run into two leaders who don’t care, or don’t want to know or whatever. They don’t work well with with a strength based approach. But as a young person in your career, I often encourage them to dictate that relationship with their leader, not everything they have to do, but what they enjoy and how they can do more. And I think most leaders want to hear that actually.

[0:20:28.0] RS: Yeah, exactly. And a good boss will help you find ways to start taking some of that stuff off your plate, right? Or they might say, like, listen, I know you don’t like this. But for now, you need to kind of you need to suck it up and do it. But when they say that, I don’t know what do you take them at their word that like, oh, you know, we’re going to in six months, We’ll reevaluate, well, maybe make a hire to take that off of your plate, I just feel like you do, it’s hard to kind of get a clearer view of things when you’ve surfaced this need you have or this desire you have and it’s not being heard.

[0:21:03.0] SW: Completely agree. But you have to also think of you spend the majority of your day doing your work. And if you are in a position where your leader isn’t receptive, it might be that leader, maybe there’s an opportunity to work with a different leader. And as you get later on in your career, this becomes easier. So again, I’m not necessarily pointing to 22 year olds a little bit older. But if you’re, if your leader isn’t interested, or keeps pushing it off, and other six months, another six months, another six months, at some point, I would encourage you to look for a different path. You don’t have to stay with the same organization for 50 years, you can do other things. And I really like it when my students and my young leaders take control of their of their careers, because they’ll find it more rewarding.

[0:21:54.0] RS: Yeah, of course, how do you begin that reflection to understand what are the things that you’re good at, that you should continue working on versus the things you obviously you know, what you don’t like you probably know, you’re a little deficient at, how do you figure out which are the ones you can maybe ignore, because they’re not going to have as you know, high rewards as working on the strengths.

[0:22:13.0] SW: So there’s a couple kind of ways to look at that. I think that young leaders especially don’t take the time to really understand where their strengths and weaknesses are, don’t have a strong self reflection, and understanding, because you want to be good at everything. And so the first part is, and I give my MBA students assessments to really understand where their strengths are, and really celebrate those areas. It’s also really, again, looking at the job, and what parts of the job do you enjoy, what parts of the job do you not enjoy, really doing a root cause analysis, rather than just kind of thinking, I don’t like doing that, or Oh, I really liked doing that. Why not do a root cause analysis across the board, understand what parts of your job you like, what parts you don’t like, where you’re good, where you’re not so good. And the better you are prepared to have that conversation with your leader, the more likely you’re going to see a strong outcome. If you go to your leader and you, you just kind of wishy washy about what you like, what you don’t like, where you’re strong, where you’re not so strong. It’s not going to get you anywhere. And so one of the things I do encourage my MBA students, my young leaders to do is do some great reflection before making any decisions.

[0:23:29.0] RS: Yeah, of course. And from the leaders perspective, when you are speaking to these folks about their teams, and the growth of their teams, it strikes me is very similar to what recruiters and talent leaders find themselves doing by necessity, which is having these conversations with hiring managers and almost coaching them a little bit to be like, Look, you were put in this role, because you were a really good individual contributor, you know, maybe not because you are necessarily a really great team builder, that’s now a new skill you have to learn. So they are forcing hiring managers to have this level of reflection. So I’m curious when you are speaking to these leaders, do they tend to have an understanding of the strengths or weaknesses of their team? What would you say is common for hiring managers and leaders when it comes to really understanding what their teams are made of?

[0:24:17.0] SW: I think it’s difficult. I think that a lot of the hiring managers and leaders don’t have or don’t utilize the tools to really understand the complete person. So again, go back to the Mercedes Benz star, almost everybody knows the knowledge, skills and experience part. And if you think about it, for hiring managers, and young leaders, they’ll hire on just that little portion up there. And they don’t understand. They don’t take the time to understand the fit or the cultural enhancement piece. And they don’t take the time to understand the talent piece. And this is either when hiring folks or when building out teams or the mix. And so you’re really going in.

With only a third of the story and you’re trying to make a decision. And a lot of times I hear well, we understand fit. And we understand that part. But unless you’re really taking the time to do surveys and assessments, you don’t understand you don’t think you understand? If you did, then every leader I have talked to that has been in the saddle for a little bit. And I asked, have you ever made a bad hire, they all say, yes. If they really understood it, all three components, then they would say no more of the time. But I think in a lot of organizations, I’ve worked with leaders where they say, you know, 60-70% of the people are not good for this organization. And that whole time, every single one of those people they hired, they took the time to look at their resume, to do their interviews, to do their background checks. And every single time they hired somebody, they thought they would probably be pretty good. And here they’re saying 60 to 70% aren’t good for that organization.

[0:25:58.0] RY: I’m so surprised to hear, they would just tell themselves like that, that is atrociously bad hiring if 60 to 70% aren’t aren’t a good fit.

[0:26:05.0] SW: Well, it could be more than fit, they don’t have the they they aren’t producing at a high level. They’re not good team players, whatever it is. I actually had one several years ago, the reason they were partnering with us was that they thought his entire leadership team was wrong, the whole whole leadership team that he was working with wasn’t strong. And so not that we don’t go in there to fire them. But we certainly go in there to help the leaders understand each other better, and how they can work with each other better. Given that this is the hand they’re dealt. But back to your original point, he did not intend to hire these people not to be successful.

[0:26:41.0] RS: Yeah, of course, then do you get into assessment as part of your role? Because it feels like if someone was telling me that that level of their hires weren’t working out, I would want to go further back in the life cycle, right?

[0:26:51.0] SW: Yeah, we, when we have those conversations early on conversations with organizations, a lot of times, we give them all some type of assessment, whether it’s a leader interview, or Manager Assessment, or supervisors, whatever position, they’re supposed to be in whatever position fits for that type of interview, or that type of assessment, to really understand their strengths. When I work individually, with some of the leaders, I often do what we call appreciative inquiry. But basically, it’s just a way to delve deeply into the times in your career, where you have been successful, where you have found success, and it feels good. And how we can isolate what it is about that, so that you have a better understanding of your own strengths, and can share that with the rest of the team or with the boss, with a top leader.

[0:27:42.0] RS: Okay, when you’re taking stock of a team, and what makes up the team where their perceived strengths or weaknesses are, you mentioned the surveys, what are you asking? And is it other team members themselves? Is it other leaders? Whose responses are you measuring here? And what do you ask them?

[0:28:02.0] SW: So when we build these instruments, we asked our client partners to participate, so that we can understand who their superstars are, say we’re building one for GMs hotels, where the superstars are, and where those that are struggling are? And we want to know, these two groups, what makes a superstar? And then unfortunately, what makes somebody that’s kind of an average performer? And what are the differences between these two groups? And so we go through a lot of interviews, we do analyses, we do focus groups to really understand those differences. And then we have a battery of questions that get at various strengths to see what the differences are. And the questions have to differentiate. So for example, I might ask the question, I would not ask the question, do you like to work hard?

Because everybody says yes. And that doesn’t do any separation between these two groups. And so the questions themselves aren’t as obvious when you’re answering them when you’re going through them. And so, to take stock of the team, I really want to understand, so the individual to answer your question, the individual goes through the assessment, to understand their strengths, and understand their areas that are softer. And then we have consulting around that with the leader to look at the theme. Again, kind of back to the Steph Curry example. You have a center over here, you have a guard over here, you have a forward over here. And if you’re not utilizing them correctly, they might not be performing at as high level as they could.

[0:29:24.0] RS: In the example of do you like to work hard, right? Like everyone’s gonna say, Yes, obviously, it’s like, if you’re trying to be your roommate, and someone asks you, are you clean? Or do you like to clean like, you know, that saying no, is a way to just get kicked off the roster there. But what’s a more nuanced question that you would ask to try and really understand what a person is about?

[0:29:34.0] SW: Yeah, there’s a couple one that I like, if I ask those two groups, are you competitive? Everybody says, us. If I ask, Are you fiercely competitive? That’s a question that starts separating those two groups. Now, does it mean that all top performers are always gonna say they’re fiercely competitive, but if you ask Tom Brady, or Michael Jordan, if they’re fiercely competitive, I’m sure you’re gonna know the answer you’re going to get, which is they are. So on that one question. That is a question that differentiates between that top group of folks. And that average group of folks now will ask 100 to 150 questions. So it’s not one question that carries the day. But all of the questions are kind of like that. Aimed at separating what makes a superstar a superstar.

[0:30:18.0] RS: Got it? Yeah, the reason I want to know is just because I do think recruiters need to be performing these sorts of analyses on teams. Because if you just ask a hiring manager who they want to hire, and then you take that order, and go off and find that person, you are going to come against what you said earlier, which is like, oh, you know, these huge amount of people didn’t work out, right? Because if you’re just trying to hire another point, guard, another whomever, then like, you end up with a team of point guards, and no one can rebound. And this conversation happens all the time. And a lot of times, it goes as far as like, okay, hiring manager, who’s the best performer on your team, so and so what makes them so good at their job? And then you get a list of traits? And what makes them so good?

And then the question becomes like, how do we hire another person who’s just like, how do we hire another name here, right? That feels so fundamentally wrong to me, because it’s like, people aren’t cookie cutters, like you’re not going to find an exact person because people are unique. And even if you could, would you want to? Would you want to just clone someone like, surely you wanted to, you’d want to have a more well rounded team. So I guess, how do you start to elicit the gaps in a team so that you can be more consultative around the types of individuals that need to be added to it?

[0:18:24.0] SW: Basically. So in our interviews, in our assessments, usually there’s 10 teams, or 15 teams, but let’s just use 1010 teams. And they might be teams, like they’re introverted or extroverted, they might be persuasive, they might be a team that measures vision or focus or intellectual acumen, those types of teams. I often work with my leaders to look at to examine their teams, and look at where everybody’s five strongest themes are. So five of the 10, where are those five strongest themes, and we don’t want it to your point, we don’t want all five to be on one side of the grid, we want to see that mixture. And so one of the things that I think leaders sometimes struggle with is they hire more people like themselves. And so all of a sudden, you have just this one, too, you’re using your term, cookie cutter type of leader, when in fact, we really want a diverse leadership team with lots of independent thought that they can bring where maybe one person really does help another one. I see sometimes leaders, for instance, maybe there’s a leader that has great vision, and another leader who’s great at execution, they’ll often say they work really well together, even though we’re looking at two opposite themes. And it’s because they really compensate for each other. And so we see that quite a bit with how we evaluate teams, and then help leaders evaluate those teams.

[0:33:00.0] RS: Scott, we are creeping up on optimal podcast length here before I let you go, I want to put it on to you to thread the needle here at the end of the app. What would you advise talent pros to do when they go into these meetings with hiring managers and they want to be more consultative and sort of hold that hiring managers hand and guide them to a place where they’re achieving some sort of team building nirvana? How do you recommend they kick off that relationship and begin that sort of process?

[0:33:28.0] SW: There’s really two main things that I work with with hiring managers. The first is how well do you really understand your team from a holistic standpoint. And if you’re relying on resume stuff, you’re relying on the wrong things. So if it’s on a resume, and that’s all you’re really looking at, you’re relying on the wrong, wrong parts. And so really getting a holistic examination of their team. And also really understanding how each player plays within that team and what they can contribute, and where their strengths and being honest with yourself and honest with the leaders, where are their best strengths, and where are their greatest weaknesses, and not just pretending everybody’s strong at everything. So a lot of it is, again, back that self reflection, both within and then with your team. I think that by doing that, and then taking a holistic approach, understanding strengths, and how those play and understanding the fit and taking the time to understand those things, is the two main things I would recommend to hiring managers.

[0:34:35.0] RS: That’s tremendous advice, Scott, this has been a fantastic conversation. So at this point, I would just say thank you so much for being here and for sharing all this with me and all the folks out there and podcasts. And I’ve loved chatting with you today.

[0:34:45.0] SW: Yeah. Well, thankyou, Rob. It was my pleasure. And greetings to all of you in podcast land. And if anybody wants to reach out, I’m happy to discuss this more.

[0:34:55.0] RS: There you have it. That’s the green light, folks slide into those DMS. Thank you, Scott.

[0:34:58.0] SW: All right, thank you.


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