Crack The Behavior Code


The Neuroscience of Recruiting

Season 4, Ep. 7

Why do we make hiring and recruiting mistakes? Or even role assignment/placement mistakes?

Often it’s because we’re rushed, we don’t have a process that has been proven to be successful, or we don’t have a clear profile of who we truly need in a specific role.

But also it’s because we don’t leverage neuroscience.

The Proven 3 Step Process To Get The Right Person In The Right Role Every Time

So how do you get the right person in the right role? It’s actually easier than you think. It requires a proven process, and that you don’t cut corners.

Credit: Getty

1.   Figure out where you are on the Inflection Point chart. See the chart below so you know the main people, money, model challenges, and opportunities your organization is in the midst of—and are around the corner. Look 1-2 years out and sketch out the org chart you’ll need. Some of our coaching clients prefer a 1 year and 3-year org chart. We help them develop the plan for the immediate hires (so they can achieve the 1-year org chart with everyone at solid performance), then we help them create the organizational infrastructure to support their next inflection point of growth.


2.   Once you have clarified the roles you need, dive into who the right person truly is. For this you’ll need:

a.   The leadership level appropriate for the role (how much ownership do you want them to take?) What makes sense for this role? Check here:



b.   An impact description to ensure we know exactly what a great fit will be and what they’ll own. Here’s an example.

c.    If the role is senior, map out their decision space (what exactly will they have decision authority over). Here are some examples.

All of the above will cause emotional engagement in the candidate’s brain: oxytocin (yes! These are my people! I’ve found them), serotonin (wow, does it feel good to know I’ve found my tribe), dopamine (I can’t wait to see what we create together!).

3.   Make sure that your recruiting process is working. The following makes all the difference (and see the proof below):

a.   Post the Impact Description I mentioned above – you’ll get fewer candidates, but they’ll be the right fit.

“From May 9 through July 8 we ran an ad online. We had 14 applicants, two people were interviewed, and zero people were hired.

Then we used STI‘s Impact Description format. Within *one week* we had 25 applicants, nine interviews, and seven very solid candidates. STI’s Impact Description format made all the difference!”

~ Justin Rodriguez

Talent Acquisition Manager, Principle Auto

b.   Screen for Value Alignment digitally – if they aren’t aligned with your values, they won’t fit in with your culture. You can simply set up an auto-reply with 3-5 values questions and direct candidates to send the answers to a 2nd email address. When you read their answers to the values questions, you’ll know who’s aligned with you and who isn’t.

“We integrated your strategy for recruiting for value alignment and high accountability into our process. It worked out very well.  

We had 70 applicants for the position. Each applicant received an email from us and requested that they answer some values questions. 25 out of 70 responded! 7 were contacted and brought in for interviews. 2 were brought back for more than 2 interviews and we just selected the candidate today. 

I think this approach took 30 or more days off the process plus we calculate that the process saved us 60 team member-hours per candidate. 

The process also gives you more insight into the individual and you feel you know them a lot better which takes the risk-off.”

~Steve Ostanek

President, Neundorfer, Inc.

c.    Screen for safety, belonging, mattering, and meta programs. You’ll learn more by following the links I just mentioned, and here’s a quick summary:

To discover the SBM Trigger of your candidate:

Ask: What is most important to you at work—please list in order of importance:

  • You’re in a team that has a plan, people have your back (this shows safety is important)
  • You’re part of the team, you have an equal value to others (this shows belonging is important)
  • You’re acknowledged and appreciated for your unique contributions; you are making a difference (this shows mattering is important)

To discover the Meta Program profile of your candidate:

There are many Meta Programs —about 60—per Leslie Cameron-Bandler. Think of each Meta Program as a color and each person a unique artwork formed by the combination of those colors.



Here are the Meta Programs our clients find most impactful when recruiting:

  • Direction: Toward-Away. Are you motivated to go toward a goal or away from pain? Think salesperson versus accountant: what criteria do they assess situations with?
  • Reason: Options-Procedures. Do you like to have many options and choices, or prefer a proven step-by-step process? What feels right to you?
  • Scope: General-Specific. Do you feel comfortable with a high-level overview, or do you want specific details? When describing something, do you start with the details or the summary?
  • Orientation: Active-Reflective. Do you have short sentence structure and high action, or do you want to think about things first, using longer sentence structure with many clauses?
  • Source: Internal-External. How do you know you’ve done a good job? Through external feedback or internal monitoring?

So during the interview…

Ask: What do you enjoy most at work/what makes work fulfilling? Why?

Listen for achieving goals/accomplishment [Toward] OR solving problems/mitigating risk [Away]

Ask: Think of a recent large purchase (like a car, home, etc.) or a big decision you made recently. Why did you choose the specific item you chose?

Listen for having lots of options, choice, possibility [Options] OR having a proven process OR a story that had a number of steps that ended with the choice being made [Procedures]

Ask: Tell me about your weekend.

Listen for high level, net-net, executive summary [General] OR details and specificity [Specific]

Ask: What’s your approach when solving problems? How do you decide what to do? How do you do it?

Listen for take action, charge forward, do it now, high bias to action [Active] OR consider, ponder, understand, analyze, THEN take action [Reflective]

Ask: How do you know you’ve done a good job?

Listen for external proof: achieve quota, win the contest, get praise from boss [External] OR “it’s a feeling, I know I’ve done my best” [Internal]

For more on all the above please see our Recruiting Process.

Here come more good feelings and firing of hormones and neurotransmitters in the candidates and even the hiring manager’s brains. Woo hoo!

d.   Use whatever tests you like best. Our clients like Caliper, Kolbe, Predictive Index, Achiever, Topgrading, More Than A Gut Feel among others.

Tests are a good idea to check ourselves so we don’t get too excited—let the prefrontal cortex (the analytical part of the brain) take over here and ensure the data backs up all the good feelings.

The Net-Net

  • Using some basic brain-based tools can help you screen candidates more effectively
  • It’s essential to move beyond the “rock star moment” of the interview and ask self-revealing questions to find out who the person truly is
  • Using these tools will save you time and heartache

How’s your recruiting going?

More Episodes


The Surprising Link Between Customer Experience And Employee Engagement

Season 4, Ep. 11
How would your customers describe their experience with your firm?Please take a moment and rate the Customer Experience (CX) that you believe you deliver:Better than all companies in any industryThe best in our industryConsiderably above average in our industrySlightly above average in our industryAverage for our industrySlightly below average in our industryConsiderably below average in our industryNow, what CX would you like to deliver within 3 years?[Credit: Temkin Group Q1 2017 CX Management Survey]Data: Q1 2017 CX Management Survey of 180 organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenuesAccording toAimee Lucas, Customer Experience Transformist and VP atTemkin Group, 55% of all the companies surveyed want to be best in their industry or better than all companies in any industry when it comes to the level of CX they deliver they deliver within three years. That’s a big crowd wanting to get into a small, small slot.As Aimee and I caught up at the recentNorth American Employee Engagement Awardsit became crystal clear: it’s time to stress the connection between Employee Engagement (EE) and CX. Now.Customers today have a louder voice (think Yelp and other rating sites), have access to more information on you and your competitors, and as a result expect an increasingly awesome experience. And they should.Meanwhile your competitors are launching new products and services faster than ever before, and are consistently raising the bar on CX. And they should.So what’s an organization to do?Arm yourself with these 3 CX-Boosting Strategies!3 CX-Boosting Strategies1) Become A CX Leader—By Focusing First On EmployeesCX leaders (companies whose CX is significantly better than their competitors) have more engaged employees. Here’s whatTemkin Groupfound:[Credit: Temkin Group Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2017]Base:5,552 U.S. consumers employed in for-profit organizationsHow exactly does engagement work? What happens in the brain when we are engaged?Engagement comes from feeling good, from passion for the company, from meaningful work, from attaching part of one’s identity with their job. And this comes down to some neurotransmitters and a hormone. As leaders when we intentionally help the brains of our employees to generate dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin we create good feelings for the organization. Dopamine (anticipation of reward) and serotonin (feeling good, well-being) and oxytocin (bonding, feeling connected to others) can be created via a number of programs in yourCultural GAME Plan.So how do you become a CX leader and get engaged employees? This is where HR comes in…2) Get HR To Connect EE And CXHR owns the cultural programs, so it’s key that they are first looped into Employee Engagement (EE) so they can help support CX. First a strongmission, vision, valuessets the tone for your tribal purpose and code of conduct (oxytocin). Next,acknowledging employeesfor being models of your values creates social validation (dopamine and serotonin). There are many more ways that you can read about in my many blogs onemployee engagementand in #3 below.Next, when HR runs regularSBM Indexes, you can easily diagnose and cure and engagement dis-eases so you can continuously raise your engagement bar.It matters, it’s a reflection of them and what they believe in, who they are, how they show up in the world.According to Temkin Group’s research when HR is significantly involved in CX the organization is 50% more likely to be a CX leader. Wow.Is HR involved in CX at your organization?Credit: [Temkin Group 2016 HR Professionals Survey]Which brings us to the next item to check on our list, specifics for creating EE and CX.3) Clarify Exactly How/Where HR Can Support EE And CXHere are some ways that HR can forge the EE-CX link…Employeecommunications– rich in safety, belonging, mattering and boosting positive feelingsEmployee training & new hireonboarding– see my blog on how to ensure key emotional touchpoints in the onboarding processPerformance motivation– learn how to create intrinsic motivation in this blogAwards, celebrations, incentives– learn how to celebrate and incent in these blogsEmployee listening programs– learn how to be a better listener in this blogMiddle manager engagement efforts– learn how to engage leaders and the cost of low leader engagement in this blogRecruiting & hiring processes– learn the latest way to recruit with self-revealing questions hereAll of the above examples and blogs will help you keep the brains of your employees in theirSmart State, which will in turn help your customers spend more time there too! Smart State = Engaged, Aligned, Tribal, Together.

Right Person, Wrong Role?

Season 4, Ep. 10
People get into the wrong roles for a number of reasons.Perhaps there was a reorganization and the company didn’t want to lose them, so they were reallocated without consultation or training. Maybe they were promoted beyond their capability without a training plan. Or maybe they were hired to do a project that’s now irrelevant and they’ve not been redeployed to produce meaningful results elsewhere. And then there’s our all-time favorite, the Untouchables.Do you have Untouchables? Also, known as Sacred Cows? These are people who were hired because they are related to (or friends with) the CEO or other powerful team members. Even though their performance is sub-par, they get promoted or allowed to stay on for emotional reasons.[Shutterstock]Case Study: Company XCompany X was a tech consulting firm with a $37 million in annual revenue and approximately 270 employees, about two-thirds of whom were consultants. They were tracking at $137,000 in revenue per employee… ouch! The company was run by a married couple, John and Sarah, who initially contacted us about perfecting their sales process. They felt that their salespeople could be performing much better. What we found was amuchbigger issue.Assess: What We FoundThe findings were grim: a fear-driven culture with 53% employee turnover each year. Company X did an exceptional job of technical training for new hires, only to see them leave for higher pay within a year.The two owners of the company had virtually oppositeMeta Programs, and this was causing chaos. Sarah (Active, Toward, Options, Difference) would proactively start an initiative, rally the troops to move toward the new goal, then jump to the next option/project. John (Reflective, Away, Procedures, Sameness) would want to analyze before launching the new initiative, so he would kill it or block it, minimize exposure, and set up a procedure to handle the proposal through testing, no matter how much or little, the cost associated risk. The resulting chaos was confusing to the team and sending them deep into Critter State.The glaring gap in the consultant’s training curriculum was in sales. Even though their role was heavily client-facing, the consultants weren’t trained in the basic selling skills and had no incentive to do anything but fix technical problems. They also had no interaction with the sales team — which was sequestered in a different area of the building. The consultants were the right people in the right role — but with no support to perform their best.Harry, the new sales manager, had been with the firm for three months. Shortly after hiring Harry, the company had reorganized to close a failing business unit. Sarah and John had moved their niece, Toni, the VP of the failed unit, into a new role as the VP of sales and marketing —wait a sec! What? Did we read that right? Yep, the niece was given one of the most important roles in the firm after killing an entire business unit. Sounds like a sacred cow to me.There were three problems with this scenario:Harry (who now was sales manager) had no sales expertise — his entire background was in Internet marketing)Toni was an experienced sales manager but wasn’t strategic and had no marketing expertiseThe two disliked each other — Toni was threatened by Harry and Harry thought Toni should have been fired for her lackluster leadership of the failed business unitTo make matters even more fun, Toni’s boyfriend, Taylor, had been hired as director of client care. He had solid experience, but a perpetual mocking smirk when interacting with anyone but Toni.Act: What They DidThe first thing we had John and Sarah do was to create a clear and compelling mission, vision, and value statements. This would help everyone know why they were coming to work, and where they were going together, and how they agreed to behave. They posted these statements in the lobby, and the managers worked with smaller teams until everyone was on board.Next, we establishedNeedle Moverstogether (first for the executive team and later for everyone) in line with the new mission, vision, and values, and radically increased accountability using weekly reporting and theAccountability Equation. We created a reporting process for the sales pipeline and marketing effectiveness metrics and set up an incentive plan for the consultants to source future sales.We also redefined the roles and responsibilities throughout sales and marketing to get the right people in the right roles. Some people were reallocated, and one or two were let go respectfully. Since the company had a history of high employee turnover it was key to minimizeCritter Statevia thoughtful communication.John, Sarah, Toni, and Harry worked on their on key challenges. Toni got the tools to turn her department around. Harry was moved out of sales management and into the right role — marketing —where he is brilliant and a perpetual learner. He still reports to Toni, who now manages the sales team directly. Harry’s initiatives have made Company X top of mind in their target market. Now that John and Sarah communicate more explicitly, they are no longer creating chaos, and Toni and Harry have developed a mutual respect for each other. Taylor had to be let go. He didn’t want to uphold the company values and had burned too many bridges to be salvageable.ROI: What They GotAbout six months into the change process, things got pretty scary. The consultants became resistant and didn’t want to work on internal projects for which they had no billable hours, and John and Sarah almost pulled the plug and reverted to chaos. Instead, they appliedenergy managementtools, worked through their own resistance, recommitted, and held their team accountable to the direction they had chosen together. The results were not all immediate — patterns occasionally resurfaced and to be readdressed — but overall the results have been phenomenal. They zoomed through the $50 million inflection point and are preparing for $100 million. Their employee retention is now normal for their industry, and employee surveys show that engagement and satisfaction continue to improve.

Special Episode: Inside Leadership with Guest Cheryl Farr

Season 4, Ep. 9
Cheryl Farr, Founder & Chief Brand Officer of Signal.CSK, is our special guest for this insightful episode of the Crack the Behavior Code podcast where we discuss the importance of finding opportunity in times of crisis and much more.Who is Cheryl?Cheryl builds accessible, exciting, audience-engaging brands and brand-driven marketing programs that strengthen brand power and drive real marketplace results. She founded SIGNAL.csk in 2009 to help organizations of all kinds realize and exercise their true brand power. She empowers organizations that value fresh creative thinking, purpose, alignment, and the strategic pursuit of excellence to be strong stewards of their own brands — and their people to be passionate brand leaders and evangelists. Cheryl and her Denver-based team work side-by-side with their clients to expertly align visual and verbal identity, products and services, organizational decision making, and marketing initiatives to meet brand and business goals. Their proven True, Meaningful, DifferentTM and Brand SignalsTM methodologies build brand value by illuminating what their clients can uniquely own in the hearts and minds of their target audiences and reinforcing it across all touchpoints. Hundreds of successful client engagements include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, where Cheryl helped positon the then-fledgling brand for expansive worldwide growth; Taylor Morrison, the nation’s largest regional homebuilder, for whom she developed its first award-winning active adult brand; and PetSmart, where she led the sensory branding work that innovated the total in-store experience.Find Out More About Her Work Here:LinkedIn: Cheryl Farr | LinkedInWebsite: Home - SIGNAL.csk ( SIGNAL.csk Brand PartnersTwitter: SIGNAL.csk (@SIGNALcsk)