How to Up Your Hiring Game: Advice from Author Jim Roddy

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A good hiring process is essential for getting and staying ahead with your workforce management strategy. After all, your business is only as strong as the employees that support it, right? You need a capable and self-motivated team.

You don’t have to take our word for it.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Roddy, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). The RSPA is North America’s largest community of value added resellers, software developers, vendors, and distributors in the retail, restaurant, and grocery industries. Jim acts as a business coach for RSPA members, leveraging his experiences in retail and information technology to help businesses and leaders succeed.

Jim is also the author of not one, but two books that highlight the importance of having a strong team at the workplace: Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer (2012), and The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success: 31 Underdogs Who Became Extraordinary (2020).

We were excited to talk to Jim and get his perspective and advice on hiring in retail. Below are some lessons that we took away from the interview.

What does it mean to have a “walk-on attitude”?

First, we asked Jim to tell us a little bit about what it means to have a “walk-on attitude,” and why it’s important. If you haven’t read Jim’s latest book, you’re probably wondering what the term “walk-on” means. “Walk-on” in this context refers to a non-scholarship athlete playing on a scholarship team. In other words, an underdog player who has to work harder and be self-motivated to succeed. By observing 31 walk-on athletes, and analyzing his own walk-on experience, Jim learned a lot about how a walk-on experience shapes leaders for future success.

To explain what a “walk-on attitude” is, Jim took us through the 5 steps that he considers part of the “walk-on method” of business success. Briefly, these are:

Step 1: Take a big shot.

According to Jim, you want to hire people who will set lofty goals and then reach for them. Team members who won’t back down from a challenge.

Step 2: Make a passion statement, not a fashion statement.

“It’s important to hire people who are passionate,” Jim says. You definitely want to hire employees who are “energy elevators” and not “soul suckers.”

Step 3: Run uphill.

As part of your hiring process, look for candidates who are willing to face a challenge head-on. These are people who put in the extra effort to make it over a hurdle and learn from the experience.

Step 4: No fuss, all MUS.

To Jim, “no fuss” means maintaining emotional control and staying focused on the job at hand. MUS in this case is an acronym, and “all MUS” means to Maximize your Unique Strengths. When you’re looking to hire new employees, find candidates who will focus on what they can do. Not candidates who will let themselves be held back by what they can’t.

Step 5: Make them throw you out of the gym.

Simply put, this means to never, ever quit. You want people on your team who will keep getting better and trying their best, no matter what.

Jim says that having a “walk-on attitude” means committing yourself to these five steps — not just as an individual but as part of a team. If you’re passionate, focus on your strengths, and approach challenges head-on, you’re more likely to achieve business and career success.

Cultivating a Walk-on Attitude

So, how does one go about cultivating a “walk-on attitude” at the workplace, anyway? That was our next question.

According to Jim, if you’re a hiring manager, you want to hire people with the right attitude or the potential to develop the right attitude. You want to look for candidates who already have a track record of running uphill and overcoming obstacles. 

“Oftentimes when you are hiring somebody, if they haven’t done something like that, if they don’t have multiple examples of doing that in their career or in their life already, they’re probably not going to start under your employment,” Jim explained. 

When you’re about to conduct your next job interview, try to ask questions that reveal the job candidate’s attitude and experiences. Find out whether they’re a good cultural fit and will energize their fellow coworkers, as opposed to bring them down. Make these questions part of your interview process.

“From a hiring standpoint, I’m a big fan of behavior-based interviewing,” says Jim. “Instead of saying, ‘Do you think you can do this?’ or ‘What do you think you would do in this situation?’ I am constantly asking questions like, ‘Tell me about a time when you failed at something, and what did you do?’” If they make excuses instead of taking responsibility, Jim notes, that’s a pretty big clue.

Take-aways for Improving Your Hiring Process

One of the things we love about Jim’s approach is that it’s super easy to introduce as part of your existing hiring process. By asking the right questions, identifying the right attitudes, and hiring the right people, you’ll set your whole team up for success. They’ll elevate and inspire each other to do better and try harder. They’ll take responsibility for themselves and each other. In Jim’s words, the team will be the “engine behind its own success.”

To make sure you’re consistently asking the right questions, we recommend that you build them directly into your hiring process. All it takes is a good applicant tracking system (ATS). If you use a labor management software like TimeForge, you can insert those interview questions as part of your workflow so they get asked every time. You can also customize your questions per position so that they’re tailored and meaningful, too.

We hope you found this post useful for upping your hiring game. In Part 2, we’ll talk about a concept from Jim’s first book: hiring for bench strength. What does it mean to hire for bench strength, and how can it help you up your hiring game? Find out in our follow-up article to this one.

In the meantime, we encourage you to check out Jim Roddy’s latest book: The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success: 31 Underdogs Who Became Extraordinary (2020).

UPDATE: Part 2 of How to Up Your Hiring Game is here!

Want to improve your hiring process?

Learn how TimeForge Applicant Tracking can help you optimize hiring at your organization.

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