Managers Get the Behavior They Hire

By / 3 months ago

There has been a lot of talk in the media about how differently management must treat the millennials in the work force; that is, those workers born in the 1980s and 1990s. Here are three of the corporate world’s most recent warnings that I have read about hiring millennials:

1. They don’t have the company’s interests at heart; all they care about is themselves.

2. Don’t ask them to sacrifice time with their families to overachieve at work. Don’t even suggest that they work overtime.

3. Money means far less to millennials than to other segments of the work force; they are more into quality of life.

While 20-somethings and 30-somethings do definitely have some different outlooks on life than their parents and grandparents did (or do), don’t kid yourself about what it takes to motivate them—at least those of them who were born with high economic values.

In people, you get what you seek out and hire. Managers who claim that all of the good people are already working for someone else—or that you can’t find any young people anymore who are willing to put in a good day’s work—are guilty of an enormous cop-out.

One of the most important jobs managers have is to recruit and hire really good people. “Great people” are, however, often in the eye of the beholder, so another important job managers must perform is to sit down and describe—in writing— the behavior they are looking for so they’ll recognize it when they see it. The second job is to adopt a hiring process that ensures that no one is hired who fails to meet the behavior criteria for each position in the company.

Over the years, I have designed hundreds of incentive compensation plans. When it comes to compensation, one size definitely does not fit all. So I encourage the managers out there who are reading this article to spend enough time with new hires to be sure they know the type of reward and incentive plan that will put a smile on their faces.

It has been my experience that between 25% and 30% of the population has relatively high economic values, meaning that while working conditions are no doubt important to them, so is the amount of income they have an opportunity to earn. So it’s vital that hiring managers design enough open-ended interview questions to provide solid evidence that they are uncovering candidates who are “hungry” enough to bust their butts to earn higher commissions.

Sample interview questions

I encourage you to design several dozen open-ended interview questions like these to be sure you are not guilty of wishful thinking when you offer a candidate a sales job that is rewarded primarily via an incentive compensation plan.

Let’s face it; you must recruit and hire salespeople who are “hungry” if your sales force is going to be motivated to work hard enough and smart enough to hold onto existing customers and succeed at taking business away from the competition. Regardless of their age, there are still men and women out there who are highly competitive and money-oriented enough to do what they have to do to be successful.

Build your sales team around raw talent and invest in that talent by exposing them to opportunities to enhance their professionalism. Training is an investment, not an expense.

Bill Lee

Bill Lee has nearly 40 years of experience in the construction supply industry. A seminar leader and consultant, he is the author of two books: Gross Margin and 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot. You can reach Bill at www.BillLeeOnLine.com, or 800.277.7888.