3 Bold Ideas to Help You Screen and Hire The Right Talent for Your Culture (And weed out employees who don’t fit)

Companies with a defined and strong culture outperform their competitors by as much as 200%. Culture is what positions companies to innovate, deliver an exceptional customer experience and become an employer of choice. Company culture can make or break a company and one of the biggest threats to company culture is employees who are not a cultural fit for the company. Not only can wrong-fit employees threaten company culture, but research has shown that hiring the wrong employee can cost as much as three times the employee’s annual salary in replacement costs. It is imperative that companies defend culture by screening, hiring and retaining the right people. Here are 3 bold ideas to help you protect your culture by finding and keeping the right people.

1. Hire for motivational fit

Most companies screen applicants based on a skill set, experience and core competencies. Screening and hiring in this manner can lead to competent employees who are not a motivational fit. The result could be early burnout for the employee, negative impact on company culture and morale and frustration for managers who may have to deal with negative attitudes. A better way to screen and hire is to seek not only skill competency, but a motivational fit.

In order to excel and be happy, employees must be intrinsically motivated for the position. If you’re hiring a customer service representative, good motivational fit questions might include:

  • What do you like most about being in a customer contact position?
  • What do you want from your next job that you’re not getting from your current job?
  • What part of your current job do you enjoy the most? The least?
  • What are some of the things in a job that motivate you?

Strive to hire not just for skills, but also for motivational fit.

 2. Keep your star employees. Ask everyone else to leave.

When Jack Welch was the head of GE, the bottom 10% of organizational performers were routinely asked to leave. Welch noted that in many cases, the bottom 10% went on to successful careers at companies where they truly belonged and could excel. An on-demand Internet media streaming company sees management’s job as hiring, developing, and cutting smartly so they have star employees at every level. The Keeper Test managers at this company use is: “Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving in two months for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight hard to keep?” Consider keeping and developing your star talent and helping everyone else find better fitting opportunities.

3. Pay employees to quit.

An online retailer famous for its customer culture pays employees to quit. All new hires of the company must attend 4-weeks of Customer Service Culture training. This training is mandatory, not only for customer service employees, but every position in the company. After the first 2-weeks of new hire training, employees are made an unbelievable offer. If they feel that the company is not a good fit for them, they can walk away with their salary for 2-weeks plus get a check for $1,000. Two weeks later, after 4 weeks of training, new hires are offered $2,000 to walk if they don’t feel the job is the best fit for them. A third and final payout if offered 3 weeks after new hire training and employees who don’t think they are in the right place can take a check for $4,000. The company pays employees to quit because they are fiercely protecting their culture. Weeding out employees who don’t fit the culture early on helps maintain the culture. The offer is so high because the company wants to provide an amount that enables the employee to make the right decision and not feel they have to stay in a culture that doesn’t fit just to avert a lengthy period of unemployment.

Paying employees to quit is certainly a bold idea. But can you envision this strategy (at a payout level that makes sense for your organization) saving you frustration and money down the road?

The right employees will support and strengthen your culture, while the wrong employees threaten the culture and cost you money. Defending company culture through rigorous screening, hiring and retention practices takes great effort and the rewards are performance and profits.

Sources cited

Golden, Myra, “Keep the Star Employees. Everyone Else Needs a Generous Severance Package Now.”  2010 Retrieved from: https://myragolden.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/keep-the-stars-the-others-need-a-generous-severance-package-now/

Michelli, Jospeh, A. “The Zappos Experience” McGraw Hill, NY, 2011.

Ren, John, F. Company Culture: What it is and how to get it. Retrieved from: http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/companyculture.htm

How do we get call center agents to buy-in to a quality call monitoring and coaching program?

Hi. We’re looking for ways to create buy-in among our call center agents for our quality call monitoring program.

Myra’s answer to How do we get call center agents to buy-in to a quality call monitoring and coaching program? 

You’re in for a treat for this response because I’ve taken a segment right out of my Supervising, Coaching & Progressive Discipline Webinar and I’m sharing secrets lawyers use in the courtroom -secrets supervisors can apply immediately to prepare for difficult conversations with employees.

1. Give evidence of performance to employee. In litigation, prosecutors are required to turn all of their evidence over to the defense. In order to be fair to employees, supervisors need to do the same thing. Tony frequently received disturbing memos from his district manager about his poor performance on sales calls. “You failed to cover the Five Points for Sales Excellence with a customer last month. This is unacceptable.” Tony never received a monitoring sheet spelling out the discrepancies, never heard a tape of a recorded call, and he didn’t even have the opportunity to defend himself because the cowardly manager simply shot her message off in a cold blunt memo.

Giving feedback the way Tony’s district manager does is dangerous. It certainly isn’t motivating Tony to improve. Moreover, because the manager has provided no proof of the calls – no score sheet, no recording of the call, no date or time, and not even one specific statement about Tony’s alleged ineffectiveness – Tony can’t even defend his performance.

When monitoring and coaching employees, ALWAYS turn over the evidence of the call to them. This evidence may include a recorded call, Mystery Shopper score sheet, detailed notes from customer’s account, etc.

2. Prepare for employee performance meetings in advance. No attorney would conduct a direct examination or cross examination without thoroughly and carefully pre planning their questions. I always prepare a loose script prior to meeting with employees about problem performance, even though I don’t actually read from my script. Writing the discussion out reinforces it in my mind and allows me to be less concerned with covering all the basis and more concerned with my employee.

3. Ask open-ended questions. Asking a juror if they are for the death penalty yields a yes or no answer, but asking her how she feels about the death penalty gives the attorney the opportunity to learn more. Just the same, asking your employee if she thought the phone call in question was good will yield a yes or no answer, but asking her how she thought the call went gives her the opportunity to expound. My favorite open-ended coaching questions include: “If you could do this call over again, would you?” “Tell me about that caller.” “Is there anything else about this call/customer that I haven’t asked, but need to know?”

4. Don’t allow the “Twinkie Defense.” In court, defendants may stand behind a theory of the case called the “Twinkie Defense.” This theory tries to throw the jury off the trail by blaming the client’s bad actions on something else – he ate too many Twinkies, for instance, and was on a sugar high when he killed/robbed/raped/molested and therefore is not responsible for his actions. You may have encountered the Twinkie Defense with your employees: “I was late because traffic was unusually heavy and then when I got here the elevator was broken, therefore my tardiness is not my fault.” Decide that employees will be held accountable for their actions and don’t allow them to hide behind the Twinkie Defense. In response to the Twinkie Defense, you respond with, “This is about individual responsibility – not trying to hide behind excuses.”

The Top 10 Things That Matter to Contact Center Representatives

 What matters most to call center agents?


According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the top 10 things that matter are:

1.    Good wages

2.    Job security

3.    Promotion and growth in the company

4.    Good working conditions

5.    Work that keeps you interested

6.    Personal loyalty to employees

7.    Tactful disciplining  

8.    Appreciation of work done

9.    Sympathetic help on personal problems

10.  Feeling in” on things

How much does agent turnover cost a call center?

Q. One of our top challenges in my call center is agent turnover. Do you have any statistics on the cost of agent turnover on the call center or the company?

Myra’s answer How much does agent turnover cost a call center?

The call center industry historically deals with extremely high turnover, with some outbound and telemarketing centers experiencing rates greater than 100% annually. More typically, a service or other inbound center may experience rates ranging from 10% to 50% or more annually. According to a recent poll of 1,000 call center managers, the average turnover is 19 percent. The highest were credit card centers at 46.9 percent.

There are more than three million customer service representatives (CSRs) working in North America. This means approximately 600,000 new CSRs must be recruited and trained each year. At an estimated cost of $5,000 each to replace each CSR, agent turnover can soon become a costly business.

How can we reduce call center agent turnover?

Looking for realistic tips for reducing agent turnover in a large call center.

Myra’s answer How can we reduce call center agent turnover?

Seven practices have been identified to reduce agent turnover.

  1. Turning Managers into ‘Retention Champions’
  2. Individualising the Customer Service Representative (CSR) Experience
  3. Provide Clear and Balanced Expectations
  4. Investing in CSRs/Training
  5. A Fun Place to Work
  6. Chance of Advancement
  7. Tools to do the Job

Much success to you!

What factors impact turnover for call center agents?

Q. We are experiencing turnover levels of nearly 300% and we’re at our wits end about what to do. We’re attempting to start by identifying what factors lead to turnover with call center agents. Can you advise on factors that lead to turnover in call centers?

Myra’s answer to What factors impact turnover for call center agents?

According to Brad Cleveland of the Incoming Calls Institute, there are twelve  typical causes of call center turnover, including:

  1. Pace of effort required
  2. Sense of powerlessness or lack of control
  3. Frustration of not being allowed to do a good job
  4. Repetition
  5. Daily physical confinement (tied to their desk)
  6. Over-regimentation
  7. The feeling of being spied on
  8. The feeling of not being appreciated by others in the organization
  9. Handling complaints and problems all day
  10. Odd work hours
  11. Pay
  12. Better opportunities elsewhe

I love to answer your questions. Email your questions to me at info@myragolden.com.