Have you ever accepted a job and after a few weeks or months realized that what you were “sold” isn’t what you expected? In this episode, Tim Reitsma and AJ Vaughan—founder of Beyond Brands Studio—talk about a new approach to the interview process. It’s called honesty!
- If you can’t understand who you are and what you need to be the best leader you can be, tactically and strategically, as well as personality-wise and emotionally, then how can you expect anyone on your team to feel comfortable being led by you if you don’t have your own levels of self-awareness? [7:35]
If you are not personally secure within yourself as a human being, there’s no way that you can ask a group of human beings to follow and believe in what you’re saying.AJ Vaughan
- Once you stabilize that self-awareness, then you have to shift into the complete other side of the spectrum, which is you have to be completely selfless and have the most high level of dynamic ability to understand what each and every employee wants at an individual level and be able to get outside of yourself and give them what they need and what they’re looking for. [9:27]
Build a better world of work, a world that can put employees first.AJ Vaughan
- AJ believes that 99% of companies are not as authentic, not as honest, and do not have an inclusive hiring process. [22:28]
- The chief people officer needs to be more strategic than most companies are allowing them to be. They need to have a budget, they need to have the freedom to bring in other support from the outside. [23:02]
- A lot of organizations think applicants and talent want aspirational content or aspirational interviewing processes. They don’t. What talent actually wants is to know what they’re getting involved in so they can make honest decisions if they believe they’re going to have success in that organization. [27:22]
- AJ talks about why he created Beyond Brand. [37:14]
- AJ shares what somebody can do to really drive change within their organization and within their hiring process. [42:15]
You’re going to get honest feedback if you’ve built enough psychological safety from those that you’re leading.AJ Vaughan
Meet Our Guest
Anthony Vaughan, who prefers AJ is an out-of-the-box, radical hybrid who is obsessed with all things entrepreneurship & employee experience. A current 3x founder, Startup Advisor, Executive and proud Son. His rise within the world of HR/Entrepreneurship is one that is definitely not typical but his focus and dedication to putting Employees First drives him to help forever change the world of work!
Anthony (Aj) is currently working on a brand that will hopefully forever change the world of work “The E1B2 Collective”, a collective of brands and practitioners designed to make substantial employee experience within the world of startups and small brands.
To be a leader, it actually takes a bit of selfishness in the beginning phases to build your framework of what it means to be a leader.AJ Vaughan
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Related Articles And Podcasts:
- About the People Managing People podcast
- Having Difficult Conversations Can Help Build A Better World Of Work
- 5 Ways To Give More Effective Feedback
- How To Improve The Employee Experience
Read The Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
AJ Vaughan: To be a leader, it actually takes a bit of selfishness in the beginning phases to build your framework of what it means to be a leader. So this is what I mean by that. I think in the beginning phases, whether you're a husband, a father, a wife, a mother, a human being in a personal relationship, a colleague, a friend, a founder, a leader, a manager; you have to figure out for yourself what you need to be happy and to be okay.
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you build happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma. Has a candidate ever ask you a question during the interview process and you painted an ideal picture, or a dream world rather than giving an honest answer?
For example, if somebody asks you, how would you describe the culture of your team? And in your mind, even though the culture's terrible or it sucks, you say, Oh, we're a tightknit group, it's awesome!
Well, in this episode, AJ Vaughan, a 3x founder, currently working on beyondbrandstudio.com, a company helping Showcase Culture To Top Talent has a different approach to the hiring process and I think you should consider it — being super honest during the hiring process.
Sounds easy and you may think, well, we're already doing this, but consider this: how often have you hired someone who was maybe sold an ideal job, but in reality their role is completely different. Or the hiring manager maybe wasn't equipped to answer critical questions.
In this episode, you'll hear AJ's approach to the hiring process and honestly, something I'd encourage you to try out!
AJ, welcome to the People Managing People podcast. This has been a long time coming for us and really excited to get this conversation going and to connect with you again. I'm really excited to hear what you're up to and dive into our conversation today, cause I think it's so relevant.
I mean, we're gonna be talking about hiring moments and when to be honest and how to be honest in those moments. So, welcome to the show.
AJ Vaughan: Thank you so much. I'm excited and yes, it's, uh, it's been a long time coming, but we figured it out.
Tim Reitsma: We figured it out. We're here.
So before we dive into it, you know, tell us a little bit about what you're up to right now. Tell us a little bit about what's getting you fired up these days and, yeah, just introduce yourself.
AJ Vaughan: Yeah. So what am I up to? There's a lot and there's always a lot going on.
I think the first thing is, you know, we dealt with the great resignation, which I don't think is done. But then we're looking at the economy going through an interesting spot. Where sidebar, I paid $12 for a regular size bottle of ketchup.
That has to blow your mind, right? Why is ketchup $12? I, you know, I called, I, I think I called my mother and like nine other friends and colleagues and had to tell them about that. A bottle of ketchup should cost no more than $5.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. It's, we're, we're living through just a crazy time right now, man.
AJ Vaughan: Yeah. So, I've been looking at that and seeing how that's been impacting certain organizations, whether it's layoffs, whether it's them trying to be super strategic and careful with their spend. I think, I'm wondering how that's gonna impact the VC world and investments and other things. So I've been keeping my eye on that.
I've also been keeping my eye on kind of the topic that we're gonna be talking about today as pertains to, in my world, kind of the cross pollination of DE&I talent strategy. Internal coms as you rev up for recruiting efforts and who internally should be responsible to make sure that leaders and managers that are involved in the hiring process are saying and doing the right things to be as transparent as possible.
And then the last thing I think that's, that's pretty exciting for me recently is, I'm kind of getting back on the speaking circuit again, which is fun. Kind of getting out there and talking to live human beings again. I was in Nashville, not too long ago for a pretty big conference. And that was always interesting because, you know, you have those moments where maybe it's after the event, over a cocktail, you kind of get to hear some, some contextual nuances of what's happening in the org from a, from an angle that I don't think you can, you can grab while you're working remote, which is, which is what I do at all times.
And so I was, I was kind of able to hear a little bit more laid back perspectives on how the great resignation impacted certain companies and how companies are just thinking about talent and how they're thinking about employee experience internally.
Because I have a lot to say when it, when it pertains to employee experience, career mapping and internal coms and all those things as well. And then all of us, obviously we, you know, we talked offline about some acquisitions and some cool things happening business wise, too. So, I'm trying to stay busy.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it sounds like you've, you know, we, we've connected a few times now and you've got a lot on the go and I love that. I love the energy you bring to it. And for those who are listening, you know, we'll, AJ's got a podcast of a zone, so we'll make sure we, we link to that in the show note. So you can go and check 'em out there.
Always before we get into the conversation, I, I always ask two questions right at the beginning. And, you know, people have asked me, why do you ask these questions Tim? And it's, it honestly comes from a place of curiosity. I'm, I'm really curious about what, what people have to say about, about these two questions.
The first one is, what does it mean to be a leader?
AJ Vaughan: I love that question. I think for me, that answer has changed a lot.
I think the first, I'll give you a couple different answers to that question. So the first thing that pops in my mind is, you know, to be a leader, it means to, to be, you know what, I'm gonna change my answer, actually. Cause I've been going in some personal situations that are actually impacting this answer.
To be a leader, it actually takes a bit of selfishness in the beginning phases to build your framework of what it means to be a leader. So this is what I mean by that. I think in the beginning phases, whether, you know, you're a husband, a father, a wife, a mother, a human being in a personal relationship, a colleague, a friend, a founder, a leader, a manager; you have to figure out for yourself what you need to be happy and to be okay.
And what I mean by that in the business context, you need to figure out for yourself what are the communication nuances? What are the workflows? What are the type of employees that you know you work well with? How can you get yourself to the point to be vulnerable and honest, and transparent and fluid and flexible to different personalities?
How can you build yourself up selfishly in your own rabbit hole of whatever you feel will make you be the best human being professionally possible. And then I believe, and only then do I believe you have the right to step out to the professional world and say, I'm ready to be a leader inside of this company and to be a leader of people. Because it's very, you know, I can't remember the old adage is, but you know, how, how can you help so many others if you can't help yourself?
Right? And so I think that's the first thing that's been coming into my mind. Frankly, due to personal factors, but I've, I've crossed that over into the professional world. If I can't understand who I am and what I need to be the best leader I can tactically and strategically, as well as personality wise and, and emotionally, then how can I expect anyone on my team to feel comfortable being led by me if I don't have my own levels of self-awareness?
So, I'll pause there if you have any questions on that, but that's kind of the first thing that I think is probably vastly different than what you probably heard.
Tim Reitsma: Well, I love that you said, you know, self-awareness. You know, I think that is, that's so key for being a leader is, is being, you know, aware of how you're showing up the energy you're bringing into your role.
I've had a guest early on, on the podcast earlier this year, who said it's really about that energy that you're bringing, which I think ties into that, that level of self awareness. Because if we're miserable, it's gonna show up in, in how we're leading, in my opinion. But also I think it's, it's so important to be open to feedback from others and in how we're showing up as a leader.
AJ Vaughan: A thousand percent, a thousand percent.
And then for me, what I realize is that, you know, imagine, and, and I'm sure we've all experienced it. Imagine a very unhappy professional that has a leadership position title inside of a company. He may be personally unhappy with how his job is structured, his relationship with himself, his lack of awareness, his lack of, you know, stabilization on his own ego, whatever it's gonna be, right?
So if you are not personally secure within yourself as a human being, there's no way that you can ask a group of human beings to follow and believe in what you're saying. Because here's the, here's the detriment of that. If, if you're not in a great psychological state or emotional state or, or self-awareness state, you're gonna start making decisions that are extremely potentially emotional or not super logical.
Like you're gonna start making bad decisions that are going to affect so many others than yourself. Because the second thing I was gonna say is, once you stabilize that self-awareness, then you have to complete, then you have to shift into the complete other side of the spectrum, which is you have to be completely selfless and have the most high level of dynamic ability to understand what each and every employee wants at an individual level and being able to get outside of yourself and give them what they need and what they're looking for.
And again, that takes a level of confidence and self-awareness and preparation, because you have to remove ego to be able to do that. So, I know I kind of probably went into a Tony Robbins world there, but, um, you know, it's start, it's starting to click for me.
Tim Reitsma: Oh, I think it makes sense. Right? It's that, that self-awareness piece, selflessness and understanding. I've said this before on another podcast, I say this to, to people within my team as well is, is we're all uniquely different and we all have different needs and wants and desires and career aspirations.
So we can't just, you know, lead from a place of one dimension. It's gotta be a multi-dimension approach to leadership. And so I, I love that you, you brought that in and that selflessness, right? That's often I have seen in my, I mean, I can only speak for my career. I've come across leaders who are like, okay, I've got the title so get out of my way now. Um, and it's that selfish versus selfless approach.
And, and so I think, I don't know, this might lead into my next question. And again, for those who are listening, I always ask this question as well is, when you hear the phrase "build a better world of work", what comes to mind?
AJ Vaughan: Build a better world of work, a world that can put employees first. And that's probably a little bit of cheesy based off of my business model, but I believe in it the most. I'm still trying to find HR tech work world of work tech solutions. I'm still trying to find organizations that genuinely have leaders that believe in this.
I'm still trying to find organizations that have processes, procedures, ways of working, you know, disciplines within the workplace, how they hire, how they fire. That generally puts the best interest of the employee at an individual level first. I'm, I'm trying to find that. And so as I think about the word of work, where I feel it needs to go and should be and, and should be going, that's the first thing that always pops into my mind.
Because when you can create an experience for one, when you can create a one-on-one experience for each and every employee, whether you have 30 employees or 30,000 employees, that's a world we can get excited about. Because whether you are someone that is dealing with significant PTSD and trauma from your previous relationship or financial issues or jobs and your manager and or leader, organization can appreciate and respect that and, and adjust things.
Whether you're a young 20 something graduate that's looking to get mentorship and be involved in some sort of upskilling or L&D structure and you, as the organization are spending a lot of time understanding their skill sets and their learning styles and being very contextual and giving them, giving them mentorship that can really prepare them for the next five years of, of their career, whatever it's gonna be.
And those two examples are completely different size of the spectrum. You as an organization should be putting employees first by understanding their personal context and building out systems to be able to do that and making sure you have leaders inside the company that believe that's their first priority in job, outside of every other responsibility they have.
So, that's probably my answer to that when I hear the word of work.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's that employee first versus, you know, the building out a technology. I mean, you need employees to build out the technology. You need employees now more than ever. And you mentioned off the beginning, the great resignation, you know, and I think we're moving into the great layoff right now.
But there's still a lot of change in turmoil in, in the market, especially in the tech industry. I was reading something today about, I think it's over 40,000 jobs in the tech industry in the US alone were lost recently. And so, you know, how do we build this better world to work as we think about the people that are, that are making up our organizations?
And, you know, if we reprioritize some of the things we're chasing as leaders, whether that's chasing market or chasing revenue or chasing, you know, ego, whatever that looks like. We gotta be putting our people first and yeah, of course, yeah, there's hard decisions that you have to make along the way. But I, I agree. It's, it's that employee experience is, is so key.
Even if you do have to lay people off, it's how you handle it says a lot about your organization.
AJ Vaughan: And I'll tell you one quick thing, too, that can help any leaders listening. Because many people forget, you know, I'm a CEO now. I was a CEO at 19. I was a CEO at 23, 24, 25. Then spent time as an employee from 25 until 30.
So, I've met most of my career I've actually been in a leadership position. So I, I have full understanding and knowledge and, and empathy for any leader or in, in that COO. Anybody in the C-suite listening, you're probably gonna resonate with this. Let's say you believe everything I'm saying is complete BS.
Let's say you're like, you know what? This employees first, this humanistic, this Tony Robbins crap. I don't believe in it. Alright. Perfect. I love it. I, I'm right there with you. Let me give you another tip or reason to do any of this. We all know as business owners and leaders, we all know as managers of departments and teams, we're going to need favors / we're gonna need significant levels of high productivity output of our employees.
So, if you can give them what they want from an experience perspective, not the salary they want all the time, which is incredibly important by the way, not the benefits they want, which is incredibly important by the way.
But if you could really get into supporting them around decision making models that really, that, that are baked into their preferences, career mapping, internal coms, L&D, the relationships they're able to cultivate, the access to information they're able to provide or get, the, the types of ways that you adjust your leadership style contextual to their leadership style preferences.
If you can get into the day to day experiences and put all of your energy to give them what they want in that category, the moment you need them to work a few extra hours or to, or to reach and meet a deadline that puts them in a very anxiety riled state.
I'll tell you this. I've never had an employee, in my life, not bend over backwards to do something that I needed to do, because I love them first and bent over backwards a million times over in their first six months of working with me to make sure that their experience was built exactly the way that they wanted it to be. So when I finally go in for that ask, they're gonna give it to me.
It happens all the time and I don't overutilize it, but I'm, I'm, I'm super conscious of it. It's like, Hey, if you don't wanna do any of the stuff that I'm saying because of the Tony Robbins esque that I'm giving, perfect. Do it because it actually will give you what you need when you have to meet a deadline because of your financial or your market capitalization goals that you have.
So I don't know if you have any thoughts on that, but.
Tim Reitsma: Well, I think it ties in with our topic today, too, about just the honesty, right? I think about, you know, we wanna talk about hiring moments and honesty and, but that honesty and transparency and, and treating people is people. And meeting those core needs of our people is, is what I'm hearing, you know, can interwoven in the last 15 minutes of our conversation.
And, and I think that's what you really bring to, well to your podcast and the businesses that you've built is, is built on that foundation of the human need.
AJ Vaughan: Yep, exactly. Exactly.
Tim Reitsma: And speaking of honesty, right? We're gonna flip this into, you know, when we're flushing out the topic for this I know you, you talked about a hiring moment. And you've been CEO for quite a few years throughout your career.
You've been the employee hired into companies. Same here. I've been at the exec level. I've, I've hired a lot of people, I've been hired and, so we wanna talk a bit about the honest, super honest moment, and that it's okay to be honest as a leader during the hiring process.
So, before we get into, you know, I've got a whole list of questions, but what resonates with you so much about this topic?
AJ Vaughan: I think what resonates with me about this topic is I've been, the times where I've been an employee in my life. And frankly the, in the early stages of my own career as a leader, I really failed to give the honest picture of what the role was actually going to be. And while I was also ahead of people, I saw many employees in the first six months disgruntled because they took the job thinking the job was gonna be one thing.
And then it was completely something different and they needed that job because of the, here, here's the reality here. Anyone taking a job from $150,000 below, most likely they need that job, right? Can we all agree with like most likely the ones that are taking those roles are not financially, you know, independently financially wealthy.
Like we could all assume that they need that job. Most human beings do not have much longer than worst case scenario, a paycheck to paycheck runway. Best case scenario, let's say they're doing all the right things a year runway. Like most folks don't have 5, 10, 15 years of money in of overhead in the bank.
You know, I think we would all agree. So they need that job. And so I've seen too many companies and too many employees accept positions that get into the role. It's not what they want. It's not what they thought it was. It's completely something different, but now they're stuck. Cuz they need that job. They moved into a new home.
They doubled down on a mortgage. They bought a new car. They promised their kids that they would be able to go to this private school or get into these two new activities. And now they're stuck, they're unhappy, they're disgruntled. And now they're looking for other employment.
So their productivity's dropping off. Their, their perspectives of the company's dropping off. The company's wondering why they're not as great as they thought they were on paper and in the interview process. And now they're either getting fired, getting demoted, theres a clearness alignment.
The company's mad. The employees are mad. Everyone's freaking out when all it took was honesty in the very beginning and transparency on both sides. It's very similar to the dating world. If you're just honest in the first five to six dates, you'll realize very quickly if you wanna be with that person long term or not.
So, I don't know. It just, it's just fascinating to me. And I've made a lot of mistakes in the department and I just kept seeing a lot of folks make the same mistakes, so.
Tim Reitsma: Well, it, it resonates with me because, you know, I've taken roles throughout my career that read the job description and I'm like, this is exactly what I want to do.
Get in house and realize, oh, why, wait, this is not what I expected or what I had signed up for, or it's fundamentally different. And, you know, as a candidate, maybe I didn't ask the right questions, but also you get in, you kind of feel duped a little bit. It's like, well, what, what happened here?
And so how do we fix that? How do we correct that? Like, as leaders, you know, we interview a lot of people for roles. And as people, as candidates, maybe somebody's listening to this is, is looking for a job. How do we ensure that we are making it the best process?
AJ Vaughan: So I have a lot of thoughts here.
I think the very first step is as a company and as leaders. And I'll give you a couple positions. I need the chief people officer. I need the CEO. I need the head of talent or head of recruiting. I need hiring managers of each department to all sit in a room and look at each other and be incredibly honest and say, there's a 99.9% chance that we have not been as honest and as clear to our candidates about what they're actually being involved in and what they're actually getting prepped to join this company.
We just need to all own that. Right? Cause all of those positions I just named are a part of the process. The hiring managers are helping the chief people officers in the heads of talent, you know, prepare for what the job is gonna actually be and what they need for their department.
The CEO, inevitably, as we all know, the buck stops with them. The COO may be building out the processes. Even the, the CTO may be the one that's writing the checks for some of the HR tech and the HR software, the HRS systems. Everyone needs to sit in a room and at least own that responsibility and own that flaw and that mistake. Right?
Because I, I genuinely believe 99% of companies are not as authentic, that it's honest and do not have an inclusive hiring process. I'll pause there and then I can get deeper into what the next step should be, cuz I have a lot to say about this.
Tim Reitsma: Well, I, let's just dive into it. What is it like the next steps? I'm, I'm really intrigued. I also have a lot to say on this, but you know, I, I'd love to hear from you.
AJ Vaughan: Perfect. So, so once they've all admitted that and owned that, then the next step is to appoint, appointment. Someone that's inevitably going to be the person that is responsible for extracting the honesty.
I always like to say that should be the chief people officer. I believe and I, and I've talked about this in other, you know, other mediums and in other perspectives, but the chief people officer needs to be more strategic than I think most companies are allowing them to be. Right? The chief people officer needs to have budget, needs to have the freedom to bring in other support from the outside.
If you don't have a head of D&I internally due to whatever the case is, the chief people officer needs to have the budget to reach out to some D&I firms or some independent practitioners and bring them in for a six week period of time to help them make sure the job descriptions are inclusive using the right language, whatever the case is gonna be.
So the chief people officer needs to be the one that stewards this entire boat. They need to be the Bill Belichick, if anyone knows football, American football here, of this process in my personal opinion. That individual needs to sit down with the head of the each department that is inevitably hiring and they need to go through some of the following categories.
Now that can be facilitated through a lot of different ways. A 90 minute conversation that is recorded. That is my personal preference. And the key thing before they get into these categories are the following. They need to look the hiring manager dead in their eyes and say the following. I need you to be viscerally honest.
We are going to be honest, we are gonna be clear. We are going to be real good, bad or indifferent. We just need to know what is, not what you want it to be, not what you thought it could be. Not what you think will be approved by the time they get here. What is it? So I'll give you a couple categories.
Leadership decision making frameworks. How do you, the leader of this marketing department and team, and we're looking to hire three copywriters, how do you make decisions? What are the frameworks around that? Change management. If there's a process, if there's a mode, if there's something, if there's an expectation, if there's a focus that is changing, how do you do that?
What are the communications around that? What does that look like for you personally? Day to day department operations, how do you personally handle tight deadlines emotionally as a leader? And how do you lead your teams doing tight deadlines? How do your communications change? How do your expectations change?
I like to get into how do you maintain communication and working with the remote and hybrid team? What does it look tangibly, tactically? What tools are you using? What are your flaws when it comes to those communications? What do you, what have you been working on due to those flaws? Your weaknesses as a leader, your visibility and ability to, to support your direct reports in the first 90 days of their role, or do you need someone that is already ramped up?
Do you need a plug and play? We as chief people officers need to get this type of information in so many more categories. We need the truth. And I believe each one of those categories that I just spit off, I believe that's a six to nine minute conversation where the leader is giving examples, giving feedback, giving detail nuances around what that looks like.
And again, examples like, give me tactically, what are your leadership decision frameworks? Examples of when you utilize them, things that piss you off as a leader, things that causes you to have misalignment with the new hire in the first 90 days. Let's get very deep. I'll pause there.
Tim Reitsma: I love that you said that you're going in this direction. I know like being super honest during hiring moments can go, you know, 10 different directions.
It could be about we being honest about the organization or, you know, somebody asks, oh, like you're a startup, do you actually have cash? And you say yes, but inside you're like, actually we're pretty broken. You know, we don't know if we're gonna keep the lights on in six weeks.
But to me, it's about showing up as your authentic self as a leader. And being honest about that, it's not just putting on that aspirational identity. It's like, Hey, like, this is how I want to show up as a leader, but this is who I am. And I'm working on it, you know, here's my flaws. Here's my good points.
Here's how I'm gonna support you in this hiring, you know, as I'm walking you on, on to my team. And you know, whether it's, I know how to do this, or I don't, but it's just that, that internal honesty. Am I getting that right?
AJ Vaughan: No, you're getting that totally right. Because what a lot of organizations think is that they think applicants and talent want aspirational content, want aspirational interviewing processes. They don't.
What talent actually wants, cause you gotta remember, we're talking about parents out here. We're talking about college grads that are, that are moving out of their house for the first time. We're talking about people that have not been able to get a job for nine months and they've been door dashing and Ubering and, and moving BGE bills around and they're just looking for a break.
They're not looking to have you lie to them. They're looking to know what am I actually getting involved in so I can make an honest decision if I believe I'm gonna have success here, cuz I don't want this to be, number one, an uncomfortable situation and experience. Number two, I don't want my productivity to drop off and I get fired. Or number three, I don't wanna hate it so much that I literally force myself to quit.
And now I'm back moving around my BGE bill or now I'm back thinking to myself negatively as a, as a new new graduate and maybe I didn't pick the right degree. Or let's say on the complete opposite side. Let's say you are a former C-suite executive looking for a new job after spending a few years being a parent.
You're looking to take that next step back into the industry, back into the workforce and have success, not questioning if this is the right decision for you. So, you know, employees want to be in a situation where they know what they're getting involved at. And I, and I'll give you the final step here. There's many other steps, but I'll get to the punchline.
Once you have these conversations, that those conversations should be put in some sort of a platform. Now, obviously there's, there is no direct sell here. I'm not trying to, you know, promote anything. I'm personally doing, but there's companies out here and if you wanna reach out to me personally, we can talk about it.
But in theory, you need to put this into some sort of communication platform or access to being able to give this information. The conversations between the chief people officer and the hiring manager, you need to be able to give this communications and this information to applicants after the screen, after round one.
Now, why is that? Why do you not put it out to the open prior? Right? I believe you put this information after, because you want at least not kill your attraction level. Now, because I used to be, I used to put this process in an employer branding mode. And what I was noticing is there were certain organizations that were not getting enough inbound.
Let's get the inbound. I, I believe in that, right? I've changed my perspective on that. Let's get the inbound, right? Let's get 10000, 5000, 1000, 500 applicants coming through the door. But once you screen them, you now, you know you're talking to the right people, right? And that's to a certain degree.
Now put the information in front of them, post screen, post round one. Now my energy is starting to shift to care about the brand, right? Because now what's gonna happen is there's equal opportunity on both side. You know you're talking to potentially the right person, the right person is excited about the company and, and whatever you put out aesthetically in an employer branding level.
But now they get an email after the screen call saying, congratulations, James, you're moving you to round one or round two rather. Perfect. Now James can sit back and watch 14, 15 different videos, three to six nine minutes a piece, you know, at his own time and really dive into the nuances. And guess who James is hearing from?
His next boss, his next supervisor. And now James can either come up with more thorough questions to make him a better interviewee for the next line of the interview. Or James can say, you know what? This isn't the right mode for me. This isn't the right company for me. I'm gonna send an email back saying, thanks. No thanks. Saving the, the company time, energy, and money.
What you want as a company, let's all be honest. And now if he decides to go into the interview, now the interview's turning into a much more inclusive, detailed, deep dive where each, the employee and the employer are being honest with each other and finding a good mesh.
And I'll pause again, but, but that's in my perspective of how the process should go and it's so simple. Everything I said is so simple, yet I think we all can agree, zero companies that are listening to this are probably doing what I just said.
Tim Reitsma: Well, it's the first thing that popped in my mind was, oh man, what companies are doing this? Because this is intriguing. I, I'm really intrigued by this because often it's right. You screen a resume and then you do a HR or, you know, maybe talent acquisition does a phone interview. And then you pass that phone interview. You go to the round one. You kinda dance around a little bit, you make sure their qualifications are legit.
Might go to a round two and then maybe a round three, and then you get an offer. And so in all of that, you know, maybe that's only three or four hours of, of "face to face" time whereas, you know, computer to computer time, if you will. Versus what I'm hearing is just send a candidate some videos, you know, from you as a leader to say, Hey, you know, welcome to the interview process.
This is what we're gonna go through. A little bit about me, you know, here is my leadership style. Here's what I'm working on to develop myself as a leader. Here's how I make decisions. You know, here's the function of our team. Here's, as you said, you know, how I communicate, how I lead. Here's our change management process and putting together just that, that database of, of content and sharing that out with candidates.
AJ Vaughan: Yep. And just be viscerally honest and be very direct. Tell them about, you know, what ramping up to productivity looks like. Tell them about how much visibility they will have with you. Tell them about how you hold and have difficult conversations.
Tell them about examples of difficult conversations that you've had in the first 90 days of a new hire in the past. Tell them about department inclusivity examples and how the department is striving to be inclusive if, if you are. Tell them about how you will evaluate them in your, in their first 90 days at a detailed level.
Because all of these categories I just mentioned, I think we all can agree. And here's the punch on that I'm hoping every company can get excited about. If all of these categories churn out new hires, cause inevitably what happens is a new hire gets into a company and they're like, oh my gosh, they're changing the strategy.
They're changing my workflow. They're changing everything every other week or every other day. This is such a high growth startup and they're changing everything. I had no idea. I'm looking for something and I got three kids at home. I'm dealing with some issues with my spouse. I'm not looking for too many changes.
I got enough changes in my personal life. I'm looking for, I'm looking to do a job the same thing every single day, and have very minimal changes. I don't wanna get an email saying, Hey, Anthony, do this. Oh, actually change that. Oh, actually this priority. They, they may not want that. Right? So be honest upfront about all of the most important things that can actually churn out, AKA, have a new hire, join your team.
And 90 days in you get an email saying thanks, but no, thanks. I'm moving back into the, the, I'm moving back to be an applicant and I'm looking for my next opportunity. It's been great. Or worst case scenario, i, I apologize. They just start, their productivity just starts dropping off and they're doing the bare minimums and you can't really read as a manager if they're a good employer.
Not say you can't necessarily fire them, but guess what they're doing, they're just freeloading off the company just doing just enough not to get fired and collecting a check until they find their next thing.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. You know, again, as I mentioned, I'm really intrigued about this and thinking about how to make it practically work and it's just ridiculously easy. Right? There's so many plugins into your, your Google Chrome to hit record on a video, Google Meet, whatever it looks like.
But I just think about all the hiring I've done and I've hired a whole lot of people throughout my career. And you always get to the, you know, the last part of the interview, it's almost like every interview is structured the same way. Right? You ask some scripted questions and then turn it over to the candidate.
Do you have any questions for me? But we only have 10 minutes left and then the candidate's scrambling through their, their questions and try to figure out, well, what's the best one to ask? And if we take the advice that you're presenting, you know, sending out all of this content ahead of time, not just in a long dissertation or multi page document, but in a, in a digestible format, in a conversational format, man, you can have a real, authentic conversation.
Or that candidate can go, no, like I'm not looking for, you know, somebody to be friendly and always checking up on me. I'm looking for somebody to just leave me alone to get my work done. If that's their leadership style, then it's not gonna work for me.
Or as you said, I've, I've heard it so many times in organizations of like we're fast paced. Well, what does that even mean?
AJ Vaughan: What does that mean?
Tim Reitsma: You know, is there, is our team fast paced, but there's 16 levels of bureaucracy to actually get our change implemented, or is it just fast? So even defining some of that in a video in that, in that conversation to open up a, a real dialogue through that interview process.
Cuz let's face it, you've got candidates, your HR team if you have an HR team or maybe you as a leader is screening them, you look at their resume, you compare it to their LinkedIn. It looks good. It looks legit.
So now they're passed. They've already, all of you pretty much passed the qualification step. Now it's the, Hey, are we actually gonna be able to work together? Are we gonna get along? And let's spend time there.
AJ Vaughan: Yep. And so here's the points line though. And again, this is no direct plug. I'll speak at a high level.
The issue is most chief people officers do not have the, the right levels of autonomy to do this and pull this off. Most of the time, heads of talent and recruiting do not have enough autonomy to pull this off. Most of the time hiring managers do not have the autonomy and green lights to pull this off.
And so why I created Beyond Brand is that I felt a third party facilitator would be the best way to do that. And that's what candidates actually appreciate. Because when a candidate watches a video and they see a third party that has no long term direct influence or role inside the company, pushing a hiring manager very hard in an empathetic and loving way to be viscerally honest.
It's the best way possible to get the, it's very, it's similar to like a therapist, kind of like that. And, you know, this is probably too much into neuroscience, but I did, I studied neuroscience for like three years. And the brain naturally protects, protects itself from any and all things that are uncomfortable or bad or negative or sad.
And so when some of those categories come up that aren't, you know, let's say your decision making frameworks are not so great. Let's say you as a leader, you know, the only reason you have a job in this company still is because you're great at, you have a great level of industry knowledge and experience and expertise. And the company long term wants to leverage that because of where they're strategically going in the next two years.
And they wanna capitalize on that. But no one on your team appreciates the way you make decisions. Right? You have to be honest about that in that process, but your brain is telling you, don't do that. Because it's gonna be very difficult to bring someone onto your team because two people just left because of that.
And maybe you're not ready to change that behavior. So we created Beyond Brand to help avoid some of those complexities where the brain is trying to protect itself. So we're like, look, we're bringing a third party. We'll design these categories, cuz you gotta remember also, a lot of these categories companies are, they're so busy.
They're not even thinking about these categories. They're like, here's the compensation. Here's some high level things around how and when and how, and when and structures around the way that we're working. And here's a little bit about me as a leader and here's really what we need of the role.
And three hours later, okay, you're hired. Right? Like these micro categories and the nuances of these categories, a lot of organizations don't take a second to think about 'em. So, that's why we, we created it.
Tim Reitsma: Oh, I love that. Yeah. Just, you know, not saying, Hey, just outsource everything, but this is a great way to, to say like, look, we, we know we need to create this, this honesty, this trust within our hiring process.
We need to make sure our leaders are presenting themselves in an authentic and, and true way. And in that, when we do hire a candidate, we hire somebody, bring somebody in that they're gonna be set up for success. You know, it costs so much money for us to hire the wrong person. And often we look at that person that maybe we need to let go or didn't pass probation.
I have just whatever jurisdiction you're in and whatever your, your employment law is. But here in, in where I'm located, right, we've got three month probation. Somebody doesn't work out, we, you know, how many of us have said, well, it's the, the candidate's fault. They just didn't live up to, to what we had presented.
But maybe we just turned that lens around and just look at ourselves. What did we miss in the process? We thought they were a great person. We made them an offer. They, they came on board. We're spending a ton of money getting them ramped up and it's still the, and it's the wrong person. And that's a big cost.
So I love that. And, you know, we'll, we'll make sure we put links to, to your site and what you're up to in the, in the show notes. But as we look to wrap up AJ, you know, what is one thing that somebody can do today, when they're listening to this podcast, they're thinking about, okay, you know, being truly honest about myself in that hiring process is maybe a little daunting. Or scary or honest about my company is a little daunting or scary, but where do we start?
What's the one thing somebody can do today to really drive this change within that organization, within that hiring process?
AJ Vaughan: What's one thing that the leaders can change, the company can change or?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, that the leader can do, the leader can, you know, if they're looking at, at this hiring process and going, okay, you know, I might not have the buy in from, from my HR team. Or, or I don't have an HR team and I, and you know, this, this is resonating with you.
Where do we start? What's the one thing do we, who just hit the record button and start recording our answers? Do we make a list of things? What's your advice on, on where somebody can and should start this process?
AJ Vaughan: I got a good one. If you're running a team of 3, 5, 15, depends on, you know, doesn't matter. Go to each and every employee that you're currently leading and sit down across some of the categories I mentioned, as well as ask the following question.
Think back to when you were first hired here and you joined my team. When it comes to, again, some of these categories, internal coms, the way I make decisions, the availability and the accessibility you had to me early in your first 90 or 120 days. What would you, would have changed during those first 90 to 120 days that I personally could have done something differently to make your experience better, more productive, ramped you up to productivity faster?
What? What's something that I could have changed? Get that information, jot that down, keep track of it in a Google doc. Look at it, ingest it, understand it, learn it and ask yourself honestly, and ask your current employee.
Are any of those things different now? And if the answer is no, don't get upset, you have some time to learn and get better. But if you are currently in a hiring process, make sure you articulate those nuances that's now in that Google doc to your applicants fast. And any way that you would like to, that's like the crappiest way to do it.
In a best case scenario, give me a call and we can help you figure it out to do it a little bit more clean and aesthetically pleasing and get your own website and all these other things where the content can be held and some logins. And, you know, we can, we can make it a little bit more fancy, but if you wanna keep it scrappy, you just wanna get it done.
And you wanna just do this tomorrow. And you know, you're in the midst of a hiring process, that's probably the best way to do it. Because you're gonna get the, you're gonna get honest feedback if you built enough psychological safety, which is a whole different conversation, from those that you're leading.
So that's a quick scrappy tip.
Tim Reitsma: Oh, I love that.
I think, you know, just to paraphrase that, it's, if you're hiring, if you're a hiring manager, you know, start asking your team, the people that you've brought into your organization over the last while and say, you know what worked well and what could have been better?
And if you've got that trust and, and have built that psychological safety, just be prepared for whatever answers being thrown at you and don't get defensive. And, you know, we've got a great podcast on feedback and my good friend, Matt Gould says, you know, when you hear feedback, you, your response should be, thanks, tell me more.
And so, you know, pull up your socks and listen for that constructive feedback and then action it, so.
AJ, thanks so much for coming on. A fascinating conversation about transparency, honesty, and hiring moments. And really, you know, making sure we're bringing in people who are aligned with us and who can add to our cultures within our organizations, within our team. So, what is the best way for somebody to reach you?
AJ Vaughan: Reach out to me on LinkedIn. It's AJ Vaughan on LinkedIn. I always recommend folks to just Google Anthony Vaughan HR and a bunch of links and information will pop up. Or just shoot me an email directly at AnthonyVaughan2015@gmail.com. That's my personal one, not even the businesses and just reach out to me personally there.
And, we'll chat a little bit.
Tim Reitsma: Sounds good. And, and yeah, we'll put all the links in the show notes as well, AJ. And so, again, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it.
And for those who are listening, love your feedback on this episode. AJ's kind of throwing us something that, you know, isn't common in the hiring process, and we'd love to hear your feedback.
Shoot me an email at email@example.com or, or hit me up on LinkedIn. And again, if you're, if you're new to the podcast, welcome. And if you love what you've heard today, please like, and subscribe, uh, to the podcast.
With that, Anthony. Thanks again. And, uh, look forward to talking to you again soon.
AJ Vaughan: I appreciate you. Thank you.