October 2, 2020
In this episode, our guest is Jim Robisch, Senior Partner at the Farnsworth Group. Jim has been a strategic consultant to the building materials industry for over 30 years, developing strategy plans for companies accelerating their growth, through data and research, not anecdotal information.
We dive into a topic that comes up for Misura Group often – strategy. You can’t operate your way out of a poor strategic position. You can’t develop a large enough sales pipeline or turn inventory over fast enough to make up for a poor strategic position. A truly great strategy is a dynamic force that pulls cultural engagement and P&L performance to the highest goals.
How do you develop an excellent strategy? There is nothing “magical” about this process. Once you collect your data and make fact-based conclusions, the direction should be obvious.
Listen on as Jim shares his wisdom regarding how to create a clear and actionable strategy.
Hire Smarter – Tony Misura
September 21, 2020
Hiring decisions are among the most complex and critical decisions that leaders make. The most effective hiring managers can overcome their personal biases to make data-driven decisions that lead to impactful hires. Biases are part of human nature – awareness is important, but it takes a strategy to outsmart them fully.
5 strategies for overcoming biases to make smart hiring decisions:
1) Acknowledge and avoid personal biases
Personal biases are common, subconscious, or unconscious beliefs about particular characteristics or entire groups of people. They can stem from positive impressions, like the halo effect, or preliminary information, like anchoring bias. Start by educating yourself on the many forms of personal biases to increase your awareness. When making hiring decisions, focus on your scorecard for the position, then collect facts and refer to tangible, job-related reasons for hiring or rejecting a candidate.
2) Use cognitive reasoning over intuition
A cognitive approach is critical when selecting talent. Create vetting questions that will provide a clear insight into the strengths and weaknesses of a professional. Take the time to focus on collecting the facts, not drawing conclusions. If you focus on collecting the facts, the conclusions will be obvious.
“When people believe a conclusion is true, they are also very likely to believe arguments that appear to support it, even when these arguments are unsound.”
― Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
3) Speak in algorithms
Speak in algorithms, so the language the team uses is focused on collecting data to complete the math. Math does not lie. To calculate the value of a candidate, the leader must solve the following equation:
Resources x Strategy x Candidate/ Time = Return on Investment
4) Encourage vetting as a team
Vetting is a team event, providing multiple perspectives and a more well-rounded view of a candidate’s fit. Double-vetting is critical to our process here at Misura Group, standing in each other’s blind spots and calling out each other’s biases.
5) Gather indirect reference checks
People lie on reference checks. This is a tough obstacle for companies and corporate recruiters to overcome as their intentions are not shrouded, making a genuinely unbiased reference highly rare. One of the most valued aspects of our vast network in the industry is the ability to call a president to discuss an opportunity that might be of interest, then asking the question, “in your career, who are some of your proudest mentees?” What this is really driving for is a reference on a manager that reported to him years ago. If the president selects this professional from a history of leading 20+ leaders, that is an objective reference – worth its weight in gold. When reference checking, it is tough for hiring companies to feign their intentions and minimize exposure to the candidate. In this competitive environment, losing candidates to other companies once they are deemed “on the market” is a significant risk. Not to mention jeopardizing a professional’s current career position and need for confidentiality.
We are all susceptible to biases. When it comes to making smart hiring decisions, don’t underestimate the value of a 3rd party recruiting firm standing in your blind spot. Give us a call to learn more about our process here at Misura Group.
Hire Smarter – the Misura Group team
September 4, 2020
Welcome to our latest episode of Hire Smarter. Our mission is to help building materials industry leaders adopt best practices for hiring talent while helping professionals make better career decisions.
In this follow-up episode on the colossal merger between Builders FirstSource and BMC, Tony meets up with his close friends and LBM dealer presidents, Gary Poulos and Russ Kathrein.
Having first-hand experience with BFS and BMC, Gary and Russ deliver insights about what makes these companies unique, the opportunities ahead for the now $11B business, and how this event will permanently change how the manufacturers and lumber mills interact with the national production builders.
What are the actions mid-size independent LBM dealers need to take?
Awareness is the greatest agent for change. As these colossal giants merge it will create significant opportunities for those companies that are best positioned. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a conversation and learn the best ways to improve your talent acquisition and retention program.
Hire Smarter – Tony Misura
August 28, 2020
Welcome to our latest episode of Hire Smarter. Our mission is to help building materials industry leaders adopt best practices for hiring talent while helping professionals make better career decisions.
We all woke Thursday to the news that Builders FirstSource and BMC were merging, creating an $11B company. Our guest today is Jim Robisch, the legacy strategist at the Farnsworth Group. Focusing on building materials supply chain for over 30 years, Jim and the Farnsworth Group have delivered excellent strategic planning to the industry. Jim and I discuss the advantages and opportunities this merger creates for the manufacturing suppliers, general contracting customers, and the LBM dealer competitors. Jim gets right to the point delivering actionable steps leaders at every level of the supply chain can take to leverage the new market.
Manufacturers now have one account, an $11B account, to serve to simplify their mission.
Tract builders splitting their business between BFS and BMC for competitive pricing can no longer be a strategy.
LBM Independent Dealers – what is your counter move?
Jim points out this might be the greatest step the industry has taken to align the supply chain to focus on the largest single-family new construction builders, the top national tract builders. This alignment and focus will generate significant efficiencies for all parties. Jim’s insight might surprise you as he defines the market opportunities that this bold, smart move creates for the independent dealers.
We also give some guidance to professionals who are measuring the immediate changes in their career path. The best career moves come from thoughtful planning, respecting the highest level of confidentiality while creating more options. Focus on your personal and professional goals and what is best for your families, making certain you are taking steps to drive the changes that most benefit your career. Life does not happen to you; if you take purposeful action, life happens for you.
Hire Smarter – Tony Misura
August 10, 2020
Onboarding is a key step for any organization introducing a new leader to their team. Understandably, most organizations have their own processes in place tailored to fit their unique company structure and culture. From completing paperwork and setting up a workspace, to meeting and building relationships with the team, these steps are necessary to integrate a leader into a new mindset and organizational flow.
If you don’t have an internal process in place, Harvard Business Review provides a great place to start: https://hbr.org/2019/06/how-to-onboard-new-hires-at-every-level
As recruiters, we partner with companies to find and hire talent, becoming a long-term ally to help organizations achieve continued success. After the hire, we continue to act as a resource and include onboarding as part of our process to ensure a smooth transition and avoid any unanticipated obstacles. This helps to accelerate the level of communication, awareness, and trust for both leaders and the new hire.
How does our onboarding complement an existing internal process?
While an internal onboarding process is critical for new hires, the addition of our outside perspective and pre-existing relationship with our candidates can help create a higher level of success. We have a series of conversations over the course of 6-12 months, focusing on 5 key areas:
- Clarity of the role and responsibilities
Understanding what defines success (and how it is measured) is essential. Making sure the individual has the authority to drive results over what they are accountable for will determine their level of empowerment. Knowing how to deliver the value that will produce the impact that leadership considers the highest priority will gain momentum and respect quickly.
- Power of candid communication
Candid communication about sensitive topics that directly impact the health of the business is essential. Building relationships with this level of trust and transparency can take varying lengths of time, depending on personality types. A common challenge is aligning the rate of the relationship building with the urgency of the issues. Great organizations are committed to the language and messaging used daily to communicate their values.
- Organizational commitment
Is the company leadership following through in their commitment to support the role and its initiatives? This includes providing resources, time guidance, mentorship, added staff, equipment, and access to needed information.
- Relationship building
First, the candidate must be aware of the key stakeholders who are critical to their success. Prioritizing the time and space for those relationships to develop on a foundation of trust can take extra effort.
- Cultural nuance
In many organizations, some of the most important cultural discretions don’t appear in any handbook, despite being essential for employees to understand. Knowing the expectations around speed and timing to deliver an impact, and how that affects the company’s cultural foundations, can define winning and losing.
August 4, 2020
Building materials industry leaders with a proven history of success are in high demand! Discover the wealth of talent in our network:
LBM and Millwork Turnaround Expert
- 5 turnarounds, 1 greenfield $4.5 to $12m first year
- Inherited $21m grew to $30m in 3 years, successful lumberyard with a failing door shop
- Door shop was worst in the market, implemented lean efficiencies, production quality and accountability resulting in 19% profit increase in first year
- Trained and developed Assistant GMs to take locations over when he moved to the next store
Multi-Unit General Manager
- Increased revenue from $40m to $55m in 4 years for 6 locations including full-line lumber and building materials, truss manufacturing, and windows and doors
- Improved operating income by 35% and EBIT by 33% for a regional millwork distributor
- Increased revenue by 70% over 4 years for a building materials supplier with multiple product lines
- Hit 10-12% net profit in 3 months of 2020
Other available top candidates:
- LBM Executive Leadership
- Manufacturing Executive & Sales Leadership
- LBM, Truss, Millwork Operators
Don’t see a description of the talent you are looking for? Our network grows larger every day – let us put you in touch with highly-talented executives, operators, and sales leaders ready to make an impact.
Contact us a (612)326-3006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 20, 2020
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
Many great general managers have developed through a sales career path. The leaders who are the most successful have a high sense of self-awareness to the genetic code and permanent imprinting their innate sales mindset delivers – both the strengths and vulnerabilities. After 20 years of studying leaders’ performance in varied situations, one constant remains: as the intensity and pressure increases, sales-minded leaders often slip, stumble, or crash in the same areas. My goal is to help raise your awareness.
First, we must seek to understand: What makes a great sales professional?
The best sales professionals are excellent at business development – the ability to cultivate new customer relationships, capturing more market share. The key to being excellent at business development is the ability to confront, shed, flip, and convert customer objections while facing rejection. The best sales professionals move efficiently through every objection looking at the situation as an invigorating challenge; thinking like a sales professional is a well-practiced mindset. Business development professionals see a crowd of people or a target list of companies and focus on the potential of new prospects with the adage, “I know I can help everyone in the room.” In every failed sales call, professionals assess the point of rejection, adjust their approach, and they are off engaging new potential customers with newfound insight and even more confidence. Energized by the freedom the sales role provides, the simplicity of individual achievement, and the direct rewards for success, their passion radiates. Salespeople possess a depth of confidence, optimism, and perseverance that is formidable.
What are the traits and mindset of the top business development professionals?
Rugged Individualistic: “Overcoming all odds” describes some of the best sales professionals. The freedom and simplicity of looking in the mirror to create solutions is a typical pattern for success. Improving their skills and expertise is a continuous practice done with great enthusiasm. They are doers vs. coaches.
Motives and values: Sales professionals share the motives and values of serving their customers and individual achievement. Competition is at least a primary motive, if not the oxygen on which salespeople survive, overshadowing collaboration.
No fear of rejection (selling yourself): Humans’ general fear of rejection is real and limiting if not debilitating for many people. Steve Jobs’ method for moving through this fear was his “Reality Distortion Field.” Steve was able to convince himself and everyone around him to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, and persistence. Walter Isaacson’s biography on Jobs states, “It (RDF) was said to distort his co-workers’ sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and to make them believe that whatever impossible task he had at hand was possible.” The ability to distort reality to yourself is powerful to overcome the fear of rejection.
Social Magnet: These are optimistic and high energy individuals, geared for action. Enjoying social events to attract new relationships is a critical skill for sales professionals. People are attracted to personalities that possess high energy, confidence, and optimism. People generally are more drawn to those who are motivated towards action, enjoying life, with an idealistic perspective on events.
Proficiency Overcoming Objections: The secret to being great at overcoming objections is about creating and defining value. What determines value is subjective; therefore, the most successful salespeople understand the more extended the list of value offerings, the greater the opportunity to close the sale. The mental pull to create lengthy offering lists and quickly re-rank information based on the subjective values and needs of your customer becomes a subconscious behavior in the best sales professionals.
What are the traits of the best general managers?
The best general managers are compensated based on the size and quality of teams they build, the cultural competency of that team, and the level of complex problems they are adept at solving. The P&L keeps score as the ultimate report card, but mind you, it is merely a reflection of the results from the three top traits.
Building great teams: The best leaders take special pride in the development, advancement, and achievement of team members. Coaching and evolving the skills and expertise in others is their greatest reward. A great leader is the antithesis of being the rugged individualist. Coaching and developing people and refraining from being the “doer” or “performer” can be a tough habit to break.
We identify the difference in traits as “Captain Kirk” or “Lone Ranger” personality types. Each brings excellent skills, but only one is a leader; the other is an individual contributor with inherent limitations.
Creating a culture of competency: The first step is embracing the values of the team and customers. Defining the motives and values is an external process requiring collaboration and input of the entire team. High performing cultures provide people with the ability to measure their performance, and the collaborative synergy elevates everyone on the team. Great leaders carefully balance collaboration and competition, as they are wise to the dangers of a miscalibrated culture.
The sales mindset often struggles with trusting others, and a team collaboration process is counterintuitive. Sales minded leaders, when facing increasing pressure, usually choose to isolate themselves from the team to find an individual solution, limiting the team’s power and halting momentum.
Complex problem solving: The best complex problem-solvers gain energy from a methodical process. Scrutinizing “what is the problem to be solved?” saves many colossal blunders. Define and rank the top three most critical factors to make the decision, with great discipline to not allow more than three. Why only three factors? If you nail the right three factors and rank numbers 1-3 weighted precisely, it will enable you to focus your data collection where it makes the most significant impact and minimizes the most risk. The review of the data set as a team event to thwart individual bias increases the probability of sound decision making. If the decision is not clear, you simply have not collected enough data. No fear of pessimism from exceptional thinkers; they often start with worst-case scenarios and build up from there, allowing them to thrive during crisis situations. Bankers, engineers, and scientists are excellent decision-makers because they lack the traits and mindset that makes sales professionals good at business development.
A sales mind is action-oriented, and they quickly lose energy and patience in a methodical process. Intuitive thinking and looking internally to solve problems are their preferred method. Sales minds have a subconscious pull to extend the list of critical factors from 3 to 23 if left alone. Remember the selling process of creating a lengthy list of offerings to close customers; it is a subconscious mental program for salespeople to have that long list to provide the ability to sell themselves and others on their intuitive conclusion. The “reality distortion field” has no place in a critical thinking model.
Sales-minded leaders and professionals who want to be general managers – Increase your self-awareness of who you are by focusing on your behaviors under pressure while facing high-stress situations. Develop a method for constant assessments from people around you. Pick your virtual technology such as Microsoft Teams or Google Docs and create a simple evaluation card for the team to score their leaders and peers 24/7. You might consider the following traits listed on this sample evaluation card.
Every company is unique, and there is not a universal perfect mix of sales and leadership traits that fits every general manager position. Understanding how opposed sales and leadership traits are is the first step to increasing awareness. Celebrate your slips and stumbles as learning and growth opportunities. If the culture honors transparency and embraces slips and stumbles, they can be useful in avoiding the crash and burn.
Leaders – as you evaluate your current teams and look to grow your organization, be aware of the different key traits needed for individuals to be successful. Do you have the right people on your team? Are they in the proper role? Give the Misura Group team a call, and we’ll support you in identifying the unique traits needed for your teams to be successful.
Hire Smarter – Tony
June 15, 2020
Steven Levitt, the renowned Harvard and MIT economist and author of Freakonomics, did a study on people who were perplexed to make a significant life change, e.g., looking for a new job, getting engaged, or divorced. The results: those who made the giant life change were much happier than those who remained stuck. But here is the best part, the decision to turn their life upside down was not after a thoughtful process considering second and third outcomes, they made the leap based on a coin flip. Levitt asked people who were on the fence to flip a coin over whether they would become engaged, end a marriage, or change jobs – heads you make the change, tails you do not change and remain status quo. Levitt used his Freakonomics Podcast and FreakonomicsExperiment.com to attract 22,000 participants and received about 13,000 surveys, following up on their level of happiness over the next six months. Here is the link to his working paper report. https://www.nber.org/papers/w22487
Levitt: “People may be excessively cautious when facing life-changing choices. If you are torn between adventure and stasis – between doing something and nothing – take the adventure. Odds are you will be happier for it.”
“So there’s a status quo bias. Let’s just say of thousands of people making big real-world decisions we find that the changers, the ones who shake up the status quo, do better. Well, if that’s true, then that’s a really important message because what that means is whenever you’re on the margin, you should have a default rule, which is I go for the change.”
The enlightenment from the experiment is not that we should be flipping our lucky silver dollar to determine our decisions. Still, it sheds light on people’s tendency to resist change at the expense of happiness. The idea of changing jobs might sound like an exciting adventure and a terrifying experience at the same time. Fear is commonly the winning emotion at an expensive cost. We are willing to suffer while drudging our way, trying to protect the idea of certainty that usually does not exist at the level we perceive.
List your top 3 favorite restaurants, your top 3 vacation locations, the top 3 universities you hope your children attend.
Now, name off the top 3 companies that would be best for furthering your career.
Few people can answer the last question, yet it might be the most critical question to reach your personal and professional goals.
Why does the best talent pool remain distant from the hiring company’s recruiting activities? Generally speaking, candidates and hiring leaders do not have a network of relationships to overcome the fear of the known surrounding, making a career change.
Career certainty does not exist, but at Misura Group, the combination of our network, process, and commitment to lifelong relationships helps candidates de-risk job changes by understanding the opportunities open to them. Our role in pre-scouting cultural alignment, career path growth, compensation valuation, and attention to confidentiality creates a smoother transition and higher probability of success.
Hiring leaders, is your candidate pipeline missing the best talent? Embrace the limitations of your network and connectivity reach. Know the difference between an average and top-level performer, and how that compares to your existing talent pool. Our one focus is connecting with top performers in the building materials industry, which provides the ability to elevate the quality of any talent pool. Contact the Misura Group team, and we can give you the support to raise your hiring standards.
Hire Smarter – Tony
June 1, 2020
Interested in improving your critical thinking skills when faced with emotional, bias, and prejudice-charged situations?
The most recent book from Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers, delivers some answers but, more importantly, drives us to start asking the right questions. The book weaves together stories about increasing our self-awareness and our tendencies evaluating people, strangers.
You will find examples showing even the best critical thinkers leaping to unfounded conclusions, persistently blind to the facts presented, crippling their ability to evaluate people. Further, once those findings are made public, the human ego sets them in stone, doubling down on what was an inadequate assessment from the beginning. The examples diminish respect for the superior intellect or expert skill of the liars, shining a light on how those deceived are unknowingly complicit, entrapped by their self-conceit. The willingness to be proven wrong publicly might be the most powerful trait of a great critical thinker.
Gladwell shares a compelling study pitting artificial intelligence against New York City judges on their effectiveness granting bail to 554,689 defendants from 2008- 2013.
When predicting, “who was most likely to commit crimes while out on bail and most likely to show up for their trial,” it was no contest; the computer was more effective forecasting by 25%.
What is more shocking – of the top 1% most likely to repeat crimes based on the historical facts, the Judges released 48.5%. Nearly 50% of the most apparent repeat offenders were miss ranked by professionals trained to detect liars.
Who had the most information on the defendants, the Judges or the computer?
Who had access to the most irrelevant information might be the better question. Judges had the defendant’s previous record, age, what happened the last time on bail, where they lived, and work. The judges also had the testimony of the prosecuting and defending attorneys, and the information shared in the courtroom. And they had the evidence of their own eyes. “What is my feeling about this man before me?”
The computer had only age and the rap sheet, a fraction of the information the judges had, yet the computer made better decisions.
It is clear meeting the person face-to-face, seeing their eyes and hearing their stories, was the debilitating factor.
Malcolm references another example of how orchestras made smarter hiring decisions when they started having auditions behind a screen. Taking the right information away from the committee allowed them to make better hiring decisions. The information gleaned from watching them play is irrelevant. How big, small, handsome, homely, or their ethnicity is unrelated to how well they perform.
How can you apply the lessons from these examples to improve your vetting process?
Internally, Misura Group’s double-vetting process has some hard-fast rules.
1) Use standardized questions: There is only one list of key performance outcomes and behavioral traits per position. As a group, make that decision before interviewing starts and rank them.
2) Protect objectivity: Do not share notes before interviewing. Force each interviewer to develop their individual assessment.
3) Phone/blind interviewing: Studies show face-to-face engagement encourages biases. Create a blind interviewing phase for your process. Video interviewing has its place around developing trust but know that it impedes critical assessment abilities.
What measures do you put into practice to maintain your humility, persistently collect new data, and give space to new conclusions? Contact the Misura Group team to learn more about how we implement these rules in our double-vetting process.
Hire Smarter – Tony
May 18, 2020
Moving through this COVID-19 crisis, each company has a different circumstance based on a myriad of factors. The common element, the environment, has become more competitive. Leaders are assessing and realigning their talent to increase responsiveness to match the new market demands. What might have been an acceptable company and employee alignment based on needs, capabilities, and performance in 2019, is no longer a fit. The distinction between an optimistic view of a professional deemed to be developing and the realistic assessment of an underperformer is difficult to escape in this new world.
I hope this article provides a template for leaders as they move through evaluating talent, both current team members and new candidates. By the way… I do not interview, I vet. Interviews can quickly become an over-rehearsed event of two people lying to each other. Vetting is collecting information, assessing the source, motives, and accuracy, then triangulating that information from other sources. Most importantly, re-ranking the dataset as heavier-weighted, new information is collected. People are like a ticker tape on the NYSE, some valuations rise, and others decline based on life events, personal growth, enlightenment, and the leaders and environments in which their performance is taking place. Projecting whether they will be successful in your situation requires the best critical problem-solving process.
The following are the top 3 items we coach leaders through during the hiring process, along with a printout of the most effective vetting tactics and questions. Click here to download
Creating a Data Mosaic: Financial and cultural performance data are the ultimate report card and an effective barometer for predicting future success. Critical thinking, done well, is limited by the quality and quantity of facts collected, considering the duration of the time frame from which the data is sourced. Are you looking at a puzzle piece or the entire picture? Perpetual re-ranking takes extra effort. The result should be a mosaic providing a clear picture.
Bias Awareness: To be human is to be biased, unconsciously, subconsciously, and otherwise. Relying on multiple interviewers, with one party that has no connection to the position being filled, can be effective. The tendency to lower standards, fill the position quickly, and overestimate the leader’s ability to develop and train people, are just a few common biases. Remaining explicitly focused on collecting, ranking, and weighting the facts can highlight the trajectory of future performance and guard against individual and group biases.
Post-traumatic growth: Be clear and decisive in your evaluation, conclusion, and communication. People will respect the leader at a higher level when the assessment is delivered candidly, highlighting strengths to build on and weaknesses to be improved. Self-awareness is a powerful gift. We often see rapid growth in the most stubborn people after they have been terminated, fired. Being fired is an outcome that is challenging to avoid; people often respond with newfound determination and energy, leading to Post Traumatic Growth.
We take the position of being a career coach first. No one wants to fail in their career – collaborating with professionals to solve the puzzle together increases the information flow. The more information collected, triangulated, and properly ranked yields a better result. The rewards of accurately evaluating professionals with transparency are huge. Looking out for people by increasing their self-awareness as you align towards a common goal, with a mutual commitment to transparency, will help you win the Best Leader of Year contest.
Hire Smarter – Tony
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