Heather Haas of Advisa - Right People in Right Positions = Increased Business Value
Heather Haas is the president of Advisa and has been working with small and mid-sized businesses for years. Advisa provides assessments and workforce analytics as well as training and coaching to help businesses optimize their performance and align their people strategies with their business strategies. Having the right people in the right roles with appropriate incentives is crucial for a healthy business. Heather believes it is her highest calling to help individuals improve their business by focusing on the people who make it possible. She started her career not in business, but in education, where she was a teacher and administrator. Now, as president of Advisa, Heather oversees the education of business owners in their role as good employers.
[00:52] About Heather
[01:41] About Advisa
[02:01] Heather introduces Advisa
[02:39] Talent optimization
[04:02] Four Step Process
[09:31] Scale of Businesses
[10:57] Strategy Assessment
[10:56] Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment
[13:51] The importance of people
[15:06] People Data
[15:31] Predictive Index
[18:43] Company Value
[21:07] Operations or People First
[22:56] Dealing with difficult employees
[29:26] When Advisa can help
[33:48] Generational Differences
[34:47] Heathers last piece of advice
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The Process of Talent Optimization
With Advisa, Heather helps business owners grow to their fullest potential by using the power of well-matched employees. Heather and her team always start the process of helping business owners by first understanding the goals and aspirations of their business. Once they have a clear picture of where the business wants to go, Heather says they look for the best employees to help them get there—a process they refer to as talent optimization. Talent optimization is a four-part process that helps leaders intentionally design and align their people strategy with their business strategy so that they can achieve their ultimate goals. At its core, talent optimization is the process of appropriately applying data from the Predictive Index. That data, Heather says, is a game-changer for CEO’s looking to reduce friction and accelerate profitability. It can also be a crucial tool in reducing unnecessary turnover.
Talent optimization is first and foremost informed by a businesses strategy. The first thing that needs to happen for a business to optimize talent is that everyone needs to be clear on exactly what the business strategy is. Once the team understands the goals of the business, Advisa can launch their four-part process.
This is the part of the process in which Heather and her team qualify the employee experience and collect data on the behavioral strengths of the leadership team and employees. Essentially, they are finding out an answer to the question: Who do I have and how do they feel about working here? This helps owners understand who they really have working for them and how that relates to what they want to accomplish over time.
Once the team has a clear picture of who they are working with they can design a culture, leadership team and organizational structure that will be the most effective way to execute a business’s specific goals. Only when an organization has this culture clearly defined can they successfully hire the right people for the right jobs.
Using the insights about how people are motivated and what behavioral components are necessary for individual roles, leaders can move onto hiring, a process that Advisa helps within a very hands-on way. Heather says that benchmarking and selection tools they provide are crucial for successful hiring.
Hiring is a big piece of the puzzle, but Heather says that businesses need guidance about how to coach, motivate and inspire their employees to increase performance over time.
This process isn’t just a one-time thing. Advisa becomes a partner for businesses and commits to working with them over the long term. The whole process is repeated annually so that businesses can continue to optimize their performance and tailor strategies to fit with the desired outcomes of evolving business goals.
The process of Advisa in its simplest form is: collect data, share insights and take action. Smaller businesses can get a clear picture much more quickly than large businesses and are more nimble in their execution. This is why focusing on people strategies and making changes can transform small to midsize business faster than almost anything else.
Because strategic intent is so crucial to every other step of the process, Advisa always starts by putting leadership through an exercise which asks them to respond to questions about the strategic intent of the organization. This assessment ultimately tells Advisa how aligned the key leaders are regarding the desired direction of the company. Often, she says, there is some necessary realignment consulting that needs to happen in this area to make sure everyone is pointed in the same direction.
Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment
Right after the strategy assessment, the team jumps into the predictive index behavioral assessment which helps them see what the leadership style is—not only of the leadership team but of the organization as a whole. Understanding whether or not these behavioral strengths align with the strategy can help the team determine whether or not an organization has the mix of employees that they need to be successful.
Implementing Lessons Learned
Assessments and data collection are a crucial component of getting a clear picture of the state of the organization, but Heather says that the training component takes the lion’s share of time and effort. The training is the part that transforms the dynamics of teams and she says that the magic really happens when managers and leaders begin behaving in a way that leads their employees towards the organization’s ultimate goal.
Most Issues are Talent Issues
Almost all problems a company faces—whether it’s genera productivity or supply chain functionality—are at their core—people issues. This is the reason that Advisa can make such a huge impact on the overall health of businesses. By addressing the root of human complexity, Advisa begins to cure the whole company rather than just treating symptoms. Through the process of direct interviews with the leadership team and employees, Advisa can quickly reveal people who may be placed in the wrong role or identify leaders who lack the maturity necessary to bring people along with them. Heather says they often find blind spots among the leadership team regarding general employee well being and a skewed perception that the workforce has a better connection to the organization than they actually do.
The Predictive Index
The Predictive Index is a company devoted to collecting and organizing data regarding human behavior. It is the driver of the talent optimization platform described at the beginning of the show and has been in the business of helping companies optimize their talent since the 1950s. The Predictive Index works with a network of partners like Advisa who help translate the tools and data from the Predictive Index to the unique challenges of individual companies. In recent years, they have evolved their software and training to reflect the massive amounts of data being collected. The result is a best in class platform for employee strategy aimed at helping companies build better workplaces and workforces. The Predictive Index’s annual fee model emphasizes a long term approach and Heather says that aligning people strategy with business strategy is a constantly evolving process. Pricing is based on the size of individual organizations—which means that small and mid-sized businesses can access the same amazing tools that multinational corporations are using.
Employees are the Legacy
Starting with measurable business goals means that companies can annually evolve their strategies to support their bottom line. Hiring and retaining the right employees is the best bet for a company looking to unlock their highest value and meet their goals. Building a legacy business that outlives the initial owner is only done through the process of hiring key employees and deploying the appropriate training for them.
Operations or Hiring?
The decision about whether to focus on hiring or operations first is a financial one. Heather says they work with clients who aren’t able to make the right investments in people until they can clean up their operations but usually she says companies recognize that they need to invest in both people and operations simultaneously. The accelerant for operational improvements is usually employees who are engaged and keyed into the long term goals of the organization, so ultimately one drives the other.
Dealing With Difficult Employees
Diagnosing tricky employees starts with the question: Is this a skill or a will issue? The Advisa team will try and determine whether or not the employee has the capacity to resolve their issues and Heather says that an assessment tool can give them ideas about how to approach the issue. Surprisingly, she says that they always have to remember to ask leadership outright if they have even approached the person about the unwanted behavior. Most often, she says no one has ever asked. If it has been addressed candidly with the employee and their behavior still isn’t improving, Heather says they will look at the employee’s assessment and see if there is an incongruity between their natural behavior and the behaviors needed to help them succeed in their job. The assessments give data and logic to a seemingly emotional issue. This level of clarity can help get people into the right jobs, which ultimately makes everyone happier. Occasionally, some people just aren’t aligned with the vision of the business, but that sort of failure is surprisingly uncommon.
The Value of People to Buyers
Much of an organization’s value is in their people and buyers are increasingly bringing Advisa in to help look at potential acquisitions. Savvy buyers are aware of just how crucial employees are and want to make sure they aren’t buying into a company that is being hamstrung by critical, but ultimately toxic employees.
When Advisa Can Help
Heather says that businesses who are seeing a lack or slow down of productivity even though they have a great product and processes should look to their employees. She says that even businesses who have a robust HR structure can have a blind spot regarding filling their positions for the best outcomes. The company doesn’t just focus on one demographic either. Advisa works cross generationally and Heather says that boomers and Millennials have very different problems, but each group struggles with unique human resource issues.
Heather’s last piece of Advice
Heather’s advice for businesses? “Become a talent optimizer.” A lot of leaders leave their people strategy to chance or leave it up to their HR group. Focusing on sales and product is important, but talent optimization needs to be a core competence for all leaders. Focusing on this will help owners get the maximum value out of the business during their tenure and when they are ready to transition.
If you want to connect with Heather and learn more about Advisa, you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you mention this podcast, Heather will give you a free strategy or job assessment. Either one will give you a great window into how Advisa uses data for talent optimization.