Posted by George Walden

Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust joins us in a “National Advisory Showcase” segment to talk about how to tackle the talent issue.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.

George Walden: Hello Texas, welcome. We have a special show for you today. We’re going to do a national advisory showcase. We have a wonderful guest. I am George Walden, I’m doing this with Jay Curry and I’m gonna start right in and introduce our guest. Her name is Kathleen Quinn Votaw?

Kathleen Votaw: Well done.

George Walden: Thank you.

Jay Curry: He’s so good.

George Walden: I had a good opportunity earlier of messing that up. You know, business owners face a common theme. They all are facing a talent issue, finding good talent is a problem most business owners have and we have someone special today to tell us how to get through that landmine of finding talent. She’s an author, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with her now for about an hour and I find her amazing and if I had the opportunity to hire talent I’d be using her so listen in people. You need to make this call, find out who she is.

Kathleen Votaw: Welcome everybody I’m Kathleen Quinn Votaw with TalenTrust, CEO and founder, also author of Solve the People Puzzle. I’m a proud member of the Vistage community and I’m here in Houston speaking to many business owners about attacking the talent issue. It’s a big, big issue facing most middle market companies. In fact, 87% of middle market companies say this is their number one issue.

Jay Curry: 87%?

Kathleen Votaw: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jay Curry: That’s a lot of people, Kathleen.

Kathleen Votaw: That’s a lot of people and 76% of their people are either looking for or actively engaged in looking for another job so we’re at a crisis level.

George Walden: Sounds like it. When you think about it we’re at an all time low in terms of unemployment.

Kathleen Votaw: 18 year low.

George Walden: So, where do you find talent and how do you find talent?

Kathleen Votaw: Well it’s hard work and that’s the good news and the bad news. We at TalenTrust suggest that recruitment is a sales process. It is not an administrative task and it is really important to attack it with the same rigor and strategy that you do with creating revenue. I’m sure most companies that are listening today have a very strategic, well thought out, well executed, well funded plan to make sure they’re growing their revenue.
Well we help our clients put the same kind of rigor and strategy around their talent acquisition plans.
George Walden: You made an interesting statement about the success of business and the success of businesses about their people.

Kathleen Votaw: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George Walden: Follow up on that. Tell me more, where that thought process came from with you.

Kathleen Votaw: Well I started my company in 2003 and funny little fact for you all I was fired. Nobody likes to admit that but I love to admit that because that’s when my fun journey began and I realized I was a maverick and I could start doing things the way I wanted to do things. And the staffing industry, recruitment industry’s a 100 billion dollar industry and they really don’t serve companies very well. They hold them hostage, they charge them enormous fees, and they don’t solve the problem.
So to your question, George, really it’s about having the right people in the right seats, thank you Jim Collins, to grow your business. Because you could have a great idea but if you don’t have somebody to execute that great idea you’re not gonna win, you’re not gonna grow your revenue, you’re not gonna have good gross margins, and you’re not gonna achieve the profitability you want to.

Jay Curry: You know Kathleen, one of the things that I’ve noticed, and we’ve known each other for quite a while since I’m in [crosstalk 00:03:54] also as is George by the way, is the cost of turnover is something CEO’s know in their mind but don’t really react to? If they would consider the cost of turnover it makes this a no brainer.

Kathleen Votaw: Absolutely.

Jay Curry: Because if you do it right you’ll save tons of money, you’ll get better quality people, they’ll be a better fit for your organization.

Kathleen Votaw: Well retention and recruitment are very closely aligned. I’d rather retain a client than get a new one. Wouldn’t you rather retain a person than go get a new one? so they’re very closely aligned in our business model and we start with, our clients with a people puzzle gap analysis and our gap analysis helps you diagnose what issues you have in regard to culture, engagement, hiring selection, the tools you’re using, the technology you’re using or not using to really help solve the problem once and for all versus just putting butts in seats as I call it.
The rest of the industry focuses on a commission and a butt in seat and just making a hire. We look at the entire process and build strategy around making it better once and for all.

George Walden: Outstanding. You’ve referenced the issues in your gap analysis, is there any area that most business owners just fail at and need to be rethinking?

Kathleen Votaw: Well, yes. Great question, George. There’s two really big areas, culture and, forgive me but culture became sexy in 2015 but nobody knows what the heck to do about it so we have a process in identifying what your culture is today and helping you build a culture by design versus default because guess what you have one but you gotta make sure you’re structuring it the right way. Second thing that they fail at again and again and again is the interview. They just don’t know how to conduct an interview and if you think for a minute how much money you pay probably the lowest person in your organization, it’s probably around 25 to 35,000 dollars, even if they’re hourly people.
We send our hiring managers into these critical conversations without any training and they blow it again and again and again because it’s an employee’s market now and we have to know how to sell our companies. And so many hiring managers, they spend less than two minutes preparing for an interview and if you think of the dollar value for hiring a person you would never do that if that was a product or software or technology. So those are two areas of huge opportunity and last is really that talent acquisition process. I think I mentioned recruitment is a sales process.
We install a process for our customers that has five unique steps. Lead generation, candidate engagement, candidate screening, candidate interviewing, and then the offer and walk our clients through how to manage each step.

George Walden: Outstanding. You referenced that you can actually improve your reputation as an employer.

Kathleen Votaw: Absolutely.

George Walden: Is that because you put these steps in place? How do you do that?

Kathleen Votaw: Well, it’s more purposeful than that. So we all have brands to our customers like Vistage has a brand, my company TalenTrust has a brand to our buyers, to the customers who engage with us but many companies don’t think about their employment brand. What is their brand out there to the people that they want to come work for them?
So we help our clients repurpose some of their marketing content that they use for their clients to attract the people who align with their values, their attitudes, behaviors and beliefs to come work for them. So again it’s rigor and strategy around the marketing message as to who you want to come work with you and that employment brand which is just as vital as your customer brand. So it’s very purposeful.

Jay Curry: I have a CEO who said, we take this approach totally different since the internet is that we have to do the selling instead of them selling themselves to us. They already know about the business, they can get on the internet, find out everything about what we do, they can see pictures, they can get the profiles of everybody in our company practically. They walk in with more knowledge and so it’s a matter of selling them on the business rather than them selling us. Does that make sense?

Kathleen Votaw: Absolutely.

Jay Curry: Totally turned upside down from the way it used to be.

Kathleen Votaw: It is turned upside down because everything about you is on the internet. Everything out there, you can GTS it, I say, out there. You can Google it and if you Google it it’s out there and people assume it’s true so you have to take control of your brand. Think of it for a minute about moving from an unknown entity to a known entity. There’s a great story of a guy who did this up in Seattle called Gravity Payments. He moved from unknown to known almost overnight and he was on Inc. 5000, he was Entrepreneur of the Year and he did something really radical, he raised everybody’s compensation and he moved from unknown to known in a New York minute. Sorry, I know we’re in Houston but you know what I mean by that.
And it is amazing, so your employment brand is about moving you into the light because unless you’re Google, GE, Marriott, people don’t know who you are and it’s time for you to move into the light so people can find you and help you grow your companies.

George Walden: Well Kathleen, how do people find you? How would you like them to remember you? Is there a email address? How would you like people to reach out?

Kathleen Votaw: Well our website is TalenTrust dot com with one T in the middle and certainly you’re welcome to call me at 303-831-3334 extension five and I’d be happy to help anybody and do a complementary consultation to see if we can help you solve your people puzzles.

George Walden: This people you need to make this call. You’re gonna find great people faster, you’re gonna reduce your employee turnover, make the call. Jay, this has been a lot of fun.

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About the Author
George Walden

George Walden

George Walden is a Managing Director and Principal in Corporate Finance Associates’ Houston office with twenty-five years experience as a middle-market investment banker. George is a member of CFA’s equipment industry practice group and an expert in the precision machining industry with special emphasis on manual machining, CNC precision machining, and gun drilling services and has been responsible for several industry-leading transactions. You can learn more about George HERE.

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