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Identifying Coachable Talent For A Growing Agency

Whether you realize it or not, anyone who is in business is in the people business. That’s especially true in the agency world. Regardless of whether you sell a product or a service, people are an integral part of any business. That’s why it’s so important to find the right talent early on. While resumes may dazzle, there’s much more to a candidate than a list of responsibilities and accomplishments.

In my 10 years of running an agency and hiring for a variety of positions, I’ve learned that one of the most important things to look for in a candidate is his or her ability to be coached.

Why Coachability?

In my very early years, I was easily impressed by a resume with star-studded positions and a long list of skills and by confident, energetic candidates who were ready to take on the world. Little did I know, though, that neither of these were ideal for a growing agency.

First, let’s start with the experienced candidate. My thought process was that the better prepared and seasoned the candidate, the better off I was. I learned rather quickly that those seasoned candidates had their own mindset and their own way of doing things, which were often incompatible with our own operations. They were set in their ways and little could be done to mold them into our own company culture.

On the other end of the spectrum, the young, inexperienced candidate who wanted to take over the world lacked the willingness and humility to be taught and guided. His or her overconfidence turned into a barrier for growth.

A growing agency environment requires a unique type of candidate who is flexible, adaptable and willing to help shape the future. These qualities are truly important in a setting where things are changing rapidly. As you can expect, I did not have a model agency when I started. There were a lot of growing pains and hurdles that we had to get past. Coachable employees really shine through in these settings. That eagerness to change, willingness to make suggestions and excitement to be part of the future of your company is a common characteristic of coachable employees.

3 Signs of Coachability

After realizing that years of experience and overconfidence were incompatible with the ever-changing environment of a growing agency, I learned about “coachability.” This I learned from my own coach – go figure! So what exactly should you look for when looking for new talent? It comes down to three main characteristics:

  1. A Known Gap GPS +1.95%: A candidate who has a “gap” in their career is eager to be coached. The gap is the understanding of where they stand today and where they’d like to be in the near future. A candidate with no gap has less of an incentive to improve or absorb more from their surroundings. When a candidate has a distinct and wide gap, he or she is looking for an opportunity to improve their skills, learn from the best and ultimately prove themselves. This is the difference between those candidates who want to exceed expectations and those who are content with just doing the minimum.
  2. Responsibility And Ownership: Candidates who can demonstrate full responsibility and ownership of their own goals, actions, progress and success are the only candidates you should ever hire. If you don’t, what you end up getting is someone who always expects everyone around them to make them better. It’s the “it’s not me, it’s you” syndrome. A candidate who is not willing to work hard or take it upon himself or herself to close the gap is clearly not motivated and should not be part of an evolving and growing company.
  3. Willingness: Willingness is key when it comes to good talent. Whether it’s changing internal processes, service offerings, or industry changes, an open willingness to try, adapt and change is critical to success in the digital industry. A candidate who is not open and willing to go on a ride will only hold your team and company back. But that’s not all; an employee with an open disposition is ready to listen and is open to criticism and ways to improve. This allows for personal growth that ultimately benefits the company. An unwilling employee, on the other hand, is the equivalent of talking to a brick wall. This simple disposition makes a world of a difference.

Good talent is critical to the success of an agency. Before you hire your next employees, consider how coachable they will be and whether or not that will impact not only their future at your company, but the future of your own company.

 

Culled from Forbes

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