The Trust Equation – Dissecting and identifying the elements of Trust at work

The Trust Equation – Dissecting and identifying the elements of Trust at work

Trust is the cornerstone for all good business relationships. No deal will proceed in the absence of Trust, and nothing grows into a going concern without it: No hiring, no scale, no sales, no mergers, no fundraising, no increase in value. While most of us perceive or feel Trust, many of us have not figured out how to quantify or measure it in our colleagues; we can sense something feeling “off.” How can you systematically identify what element of Trust is missing?
I had a recent conversation with a client, which evolved into a discussion about Trust. Trust fuels and feeds all relationships, and while certain behaviors build Trust, others break Trust down. We discussed a formula he uses to identify and develop Trust in working relationships and which I thought to be very clever and decided to experiment with it. For the next two weeks, I would use this equation for all people I encountered to determine whether I could build a Trust relationship.
Some of us think we know what to look for, such as a lack of transparency, facts not adding up, false timelines, body language, etc. These are not all readily quantifiable or consistently reliable determinants and do not fully cover how Trust is developed and measured in human relationships.
Let’s first take a look at all the elements of trustworthiness in humans. Credibility, reliability, ability to be vulnerable, and how oriented people are towards others.
Credibility is relatively straightforward and easy to identify in people – I this person whom they say they are? Are they forthright?
Reliability is based on capability plus willingness. Will this person do what they say they will do? Is this person able to do what they say they can do?
Intimacy is the person’s willingness and ability to be emotionally open to being emotionally vulnerable.
Does this person share their feelings openly with others?
Self-orientation or other orientation. Are they patient with others? Do they have an awareness of the impact of their words and behaviors on others? The person needs to clearly communicate expectations and goals to others so that others are not guessing.
The trust equation looks like this
Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
Self Orientation
The higher the self-orientation, the lower the Trust, and the more other-oriented, the higher the Trust. The higher the credibility, reliability, and emotional intimacy, the higher the Trust.
When interviewing, we verify the work history and accomplishments to validate credibility and reliability. We look at emotional awareness and demonstration of certain character traits to determine how each candidate demonstrates leadership.
For example, when assessing a candidate, we think about a few questions – we do not directly ask all these questions. Instead, we use them to think through information after the interview.
Does this person demonstrate humility? How? What was their most significant failure or biggest lesson, and under what circumstances did they learn it?
Is this person curious? Do I believe that this person will be gentle enough to ask questions in a nonthreatening way to get the best answers? Will this person look for what people are not telling them?
Trust is the cornerstone of fitness. I would be interested to hear how you determine Trust in your relationships and what has and has not worked for you, and your biggest lessons around developing and sustaining Trust.
Laura Raynak is an executive search consultant with over 20 years of experience helping companies hire the right management team. Her scope encompasses CEOs, Vice Presidents candidates for life science, medical devices, and consumer health companies.
Interviewing the Likeable Candidate; Making Sure You Don’t Get Snowed

Interviewing the Likeable Candidate; Making Sure You Don’t Get Snowed

Did you know that over 40% of new executive hires do not survive their first year on the job?
How do you interview to make sure yours stays and performs?
Most people interview candidates poorly –which is not entirely their own fault. People usually make a decision about candidates in the first 5 seconds of a meeting without ever really interviewing the candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, motivators, values, communication style, work ethic, management ability, and how they manage in different situations.
It puts you at a significant disadvantage to like a candidate immediately. When this happens, the tendency is for people to find reasons to move forward with a candidate and go into “sell” mode versus really digging in to find out who is sitting across the table from you.
This is not to say “do not hire people you like” –what I’m suggesting is to make likeability important, but not the sole attribute to make a hiring decision. You need to really find out who it is that you are interviewing and ask the kinds of questions that help you identify the person’s strengths.
Questions to ask everyone:
1. Tell me about a difficult person you had to work with; how did you manage it; what did you do, and what were the results?
2. Describe how you organize and motivate people who work for you.
3. Tell me about a time when you had to come up with a creative solution to solve big issues.
4. Do you feel lucky?
The point is simple, don’t hire someone just because you like them –that is a great attribute. Also, be sure that this person has similar values, can create a vision and drive results and find out how they work with other people.
Our firm vetted candidates to find their strengths and calibrates their ability to perform. We spend a significant portion of time upfront with our clients understanding not only their business objectives but also their culture and the types of people who thrive in their environment –creating a position description with what we filter candidates against.
Why Can’t I Hire My First Choice Candidate? Five Factors to Consider

Why Can’t I Hire My First Choice Candidate? Five Factors to Consider

No doubt, it is an odd employment market for top talent Salaries are increasing, traffic is worsening, and top performers are assessing risk differently, it may be better to stay where they are than to change. It is also an odd climate for business, hurry, stop, wait. Capital Markets are volatile, making everyone nervous and reluctant to make a change or add talent. Candidates are more educated than ever, and they often have unprecedented access to information about you, your technology, the market for your technology, who you personally have worked with, and who works with you now. Like you, candidates are doing their homework on you and your team/ board of directors/ investors. These “A-Listers” will also possess a strong network and will ask for input on their career choices. There are many factors in a candidate’s decision regarding a new role. How can you influence YOUR top candidate to choose you and your company as the obvious best choice for them?
Here are 5 Factors that have the most impact:
1. Your reputation as a leader.
a. Great people attract and are attracted to other great people. Not just in performance and results, but also in how they engage each other, lead, develop people, and treat others. Your potential total impact and your integrity matter to them. What do people say about you?
2. Your team.
a. Not just the level of talent and capabilities. You want your team to welcome all new potential team members. This can be difficult for science or technology-driven
organizations. Your team must possess high Emotional Intelligence – and must display this capability in the interview process. The candidate needs to feel comfortable with the entire team, even if that candidate is not your first choice.
b. Your Business Model Can you articulate what you hope to accomplish with your company and the impact this hire will make? Is it compelling and enticing enough that
the candidate can understand your vision for the future, and see themselves as contributors to your success? Being a part of a strong team and taking you over the finish line? Strong candidates want to know that they are part of a bigger plan, and want to be able to view themselves as an integral part of your success.
3. Your brand
a. Your image says everything – it gives people a feel for what it is to work with you and a feel for how you approach people. Your website, marketing materials, slide decks, videos, etc. It may not seem all that important, but the first place people go to check you out, besides LinkedIn, is your website. It is very difficult to recover from a bad first impression. You don’t even need a lot of information, but you do need enough to describe what you are doing and why, and you need a good look and feel. It is all part of your brand, and it is what enables you to attract people who will naturally resonate with
b. Your Physical Office Atmosphere. Fresh paint and clean carpet, and pleasant smells. This may sound very basic to you, but many office environments do not comply with this basic standard and are not welcoming. Beyond the physical office, people can sense the “vibe” or “energy” of your business when they walk in the door. Be sure you hire an interior designer to help you with this. In the past, people would often give up creature comforts in exchange for cashing in on stock options, no longer. Good people want to work in a place that feels “great”.
4. Your recruiting process
a. It seems that when clients really have trouble closing on any candidate is because there is a breakdown in their recruiting process. You need to know who, and when and communicate the next steps with timelines to all prospective candidates. The entire process provides the candidates with a taste of what it will be like to work for you.
Attracting talent is as much an art as it is a science – getting people to feel great about you, your company, and your technology are all a part of your recruiting process. Think about how you can be more attractive. Your process is your tell, it is a live demonstration of how you get work done, the culture you have built or are building, and how organized and efficient you are. It is also very telling about how focused you are.
We work with companies to identify, select and hire high-functioning leadership teams. We specialize in placing CEOs and Vice Presidents who perform to or beyond the expectations of the board that hires them, and we guarantee it.
Avoid Hiring Other Company’s Rejects

Avoid Hiring Other Company’s Rejects

In recent years, candidates have become far more sophisticated at marketing themselves. Through LinkedIn and other social media, they have become experts at influencing you with their resume, interview skills and persona. Unfortunately, that also means that it’s actually becoming easier to hire another company’s rejects because some candidates are getting really good at selling themselves.
Do you want to avoid getting stuck with problem hire? Here are some suggestions to help you dig down to find the real capabilities, strengths, and attributes that candidates possess and to get a true picture of how they will fit into your organization’s overall growth plan. The goal is to become a smart consumer who gets beyond candidates’ marketing hype and doesn’t “get romanced” by the wrong crowd.
First, Get Your Own Head on Straight
You need to think clearly about the role to be filled. Specify the duties, responsibilities, and results that you expect from the candidate – and not just today, but also a year from now. Write them down and discuss them with the candidate’s work team. This will help you understand the attributes and skills that will really matter for success.
Next, you should take a close look at your value system; that is your own, the company’s, and also those of the candidate’s department. It is much easier to hire and work with someone who thinks the same way you do and shares a similar work ethic, communication style, and attitude about family and work.
When you put this all together you’ll have a good idea of the type of person you really need. You’ll be far less likely to “fall in love” with a candidate because of personal chemistry or impressive credentials that don’t fit your business needs or values.
Be Alert to Warning Signs
Take a serious look at candidates’ resumes. First, ask the classic questions: Is the resume easy to read? Are there grammatical or spelling errors? Do the candidates know how to communicate the value they bring to each company they have worked for?
Next, look for deeper problems: hints of things that a reasonable, career-dedicated person would not do. Examples of red flags include short-lived positions, illogical career transitions, accomplishing too much in a short period of time (like becoming a fighter pilot while playing college athletics and making the dean’s list) and consulting assignments that are not identified by a specific customer.
Do candidates have a track record of staying three or more years in each position? Have they been promoted within the same company? Due to rapid market changes, the past three years have been difficult for many candidates; as a consequence, candidates may not have had a long tenure in their last one or two positions. If this was due to company closings or a shifting commercial direction, was it that the candidate’s skills were no longer needed by the company, or do the signs point to a bad hire, to begin with? Some candidates may have taken “consulting assignments” between positions – check that
these consulting assignments are just that, and not short-lived positions from which they were terminated.
You also want to be sure you are working with candidates who are serious about their careers and have invested in them. Does the resume show that they were dedicated to learning more skills and challenging themselves? Did they solve important business problems, save money, generate income, or streamline processes?
Do Your Homework
This is a critical step, but it is often ignored when personal chemistry with the candidate is good. Skip it at your peril!
Verify the information on the resume, such as dates of employment, position titles, educational degrees, military service, etc. If candidates will handle money or sensitive
information, seriously consider credit and criminal background checks. It could be worth the investment. Imagine how you would feel if something did surface that was relevant to the job.
Some companies also require a drug test before making an offer. When it is relevant to the job responsibilities some companies conduct assessments — tests that candidates take either online or with a psychologist — to determine their psychological profile, motivations, attitudes, propensity for lying, and more.
One of the goals of recruiting is to make an informed decision. The more job-relevant information you discover about a candidate, the easier it is to make a sound job match.
You should also make a serious time commitment to reviewing references. Plan to speak with 10 to 12 people that have worked directly with a candidate. They do not all need to be in a supervisory role; you may speak with clients, peers, or employees. You can usually start with three or four referrals from the candidate and expand the list through your discussions with them. You also want to be sure that you get recent references, from the past one to four years, unless the candidate has worked with the same people for a lengthy period of time.
Get Personal
More than one interview is necessary, with an interview team as an ideal format. Start with a phone interview for screening purposes. If you are interested, invite them to come in for interviews that are based on questions tailored to the job specification and the candidate.
No one is perfect. Most people have something in their work history that they regret and have learned from. Formulate your interview questions to find out about these
experiences. You want to know not only what candidates are capable of, but also what their Achilles heel might be, and if they are able to learn from their mistakes.
The most effective interview questions are open-ended and behavioral because they elicit the most useful information predictive of future behavior. Commit to finding out how candidates have managed pressure, difficult situations, tough people, and challenging negotiations. Include follow-on questions to get a detailed understanding of who did what, etc. in the experiences they describe.
In a competitive hiring environment, don’t wait too long between interviews, so that candidates know you are serious about them. Your goal is to have more than one
candidate that is interested in working for you.
Practice May Not Always Make Perfect
Hiring is as much an art as it is a science, so there are no guarantees. You may review the resume, conduct thorough interviews, and reference checks, and still not get it right all of the time. But each step conducted thoughtfully and insightfully exponentially improves the likelihood that the candidate will be a good fit.
The most important things to remember are to remain objective, really know what it is you want the candidate to accomplish before you start, and be thorough in gathering
information about the candidate. If you can check these off, then you know you have done everything possible to hire the best candidate for the job.
Laura Raynak is an executive search consultant with over 20 years of experience helping companies hire the right management team the first time. She specializes in the hiring of CEOs, Vice Presidents candidates for life science, medical devices, and consumer health companies.
How Does Human Nature Affect Your Ability to Assess Honesty in Candidates?

How Does Human Nature Affect Your Ability to Assess Honesty in Candidates?

Have you ever met someone and instantly liked and trusted them only to find out later that you had been misled? Have you ever trusted your gut and later discovered that you did not assess someone correctly? Often, when we lack a well-defined evaluation process for candidates, we can be influenced by the charm and are unable to sort out fact from fiction in the interview. Also, our training can put us at a disadvantage and lead us to bias.
For example, you assume everyone from a certain company has the same attributes, values, and performance record because you know that the company did very well, or very poorly, or has a reputation for having a certain “Culture”. As search consultants, we know each person has strengths and weaknesses relative to every role and every company environment. Also, the company that a candidate worked with in the past can influence and shape their behaviors and preferences but not necessarily tell the entire story of the candidate’s abilities and capacity to perform.
You need awareness of how your instinct (or intuition) plays to your ability to sort fact from fiction, and how to navigate around that bias. Once you work to acknowledge your human tendency to trust people and create awareness of how you form your opinions and decisions then you are better able to spot “untruths” in the interview process.
I recently heard Phil Maltin, an employment litigator, and author, discuss how you can recognize dishonesty in a single conversation – which is sometimes all you have in the interview process.
Here’s an overview of what I learned:
1. Liars are language based – they use specific words and language to explain. Often their stories do not make sense, they don’t use logic when explaining, and their conversations are less structured.
2. Liars will distance themselves from involvement in the event. They will use less verbal intimacy (i.e. they don’t want to be directly involved) and may even refer to themselves in the 3rd party.
3. Liars typically use fewer examples or illustrations to describe an event. They may also appear less cooperative and negative. Their actions and behaviors may not be consistent with the stories they are giving you.
4. People who create instant intimacy with you or who are known to you have an advantage because you are comfortable with them. These can be sneaky liars and can blindside you with their dishonesty, and you will have naturally let your guard down.
What can you do to avoid hiring a liar?
1. Prepare: – know your questioning strategy, and know that the information you are looking for is hiding in plain sight.
2. Know that body language may not always be the tell. Some people will be nervous interviewing and are honest, so don’t hold that against them, others are practiced liars and are both calm and confident.
3. Make a connection with the candidate. Stay open-minded, friendly, and unintimidating. Explain why you are asking a question. Get their guard down and they will open up more.
4. Ask follow on questions to understand the details of what they are telling you, you want their story so you can verify it later, after the interview.
5. Be humble and play detective – you just want to understand their thinking – do not expect to hear the truth right away but know it will surface in the course of the conversation.
6. Check references thoroughly.
References from people who have hired, worked with, and reported to this person are the best sources of information. I prefer to hear from people that provide balanced views, both what the person excels at and what they struggle with, as we are all works in progress and have strengths and weaknesses we are working on.
Great recruiters follow this process when we interview candidates. It is a balance between building relationships and evaluating the strengths and credibility of the person we are interviewing. Also, recruiters have the advantage of interviewing and evaluating a large pool of people with similar skill sets. We can verify performance and strengths against a large pool of similar candidates before our client even speaks with them. We like to be seekers of truth and capability.
Understanding Executive Compensation – When You’re Ready to Make the Hire

Understanding Executive Compensation – When You’re Ready to Make the Hire

When recruiting C-Suite Executive Talent, compensation comes up early. After all everyone’s time is valuable, best not to waste it on someone who is not going to accept an offer that is not in your range. How can you tell if someone has unreasonable compensation expectations? What components of compensation should you be considering? How can you tell if your opportunity is competitively compensated? You can use a compensation survey, and in general, they are about 8-18 months behind the market.
Base salary, bonus expectations, equity compensation, 401K match (or not), sometime car allowance, health/life insurance are all components of compensation you want to consider. You want to focus on what is most important to the candidate.
Sometimes my clients focus solely on the internal equity / compensation; if your team has been with you for several years, it can be likely that they are compensated under market. Tough to swallow, but best to know your risk internally. Market rate is your target. Trying to secure great talent on the cheap is like trying to buy a home in Silicon Valley today at last year’s prices. You might get lucky, but it is going to take you longer, and it just gets more out of reach, the longer you chase. Also, if your internal team is
paid under market, you run the risk of losing them to your competitors.
Often, in startups, the compensation relies solely on base and equity compensation. Others, will have base pay, bonus pay, equity and health benefits. That equity is going to be more important than cash (or so you hope). You will need to articulate the value of the shares. All seasoned executives know that equity in one company is not the same as equity in another (for example Amazon vs Bank of America). You need to understand timelines to reach these equity valuations, too. People are often trading time
for equity. Candidates will want to know the details of your vision and their role in helping you
maximize value.
When it comes to cash, people are no longer willing to trade cash for equity. To grow your company, it takes people who already know how to do that. These people do not come cheap – there is a saying in the horse world – and it applies to executive level talent:
If you want a horse that is fast and broke he won’t be cheap. If he’s cheap and fast, he won’t be
broke. If he’s broke and cheap he won’t be fast.
You cannot have everything – so you need to think about quality of hire and value that they will bring to
your company. You also need to work on your internal equity and review annually – the last thing you
want to worry about is losing someone because you are not paying them competitively.
People are your most valuable asset when it comes to getting where you need to go. To demonstrate
that you value their contribution to your success, you need to pay them appropriately. If you don’t,
someone else may come along and offer them more money for the same work.
In summary, you need to be competitive on cash compensation, understand the value proposition of the
stock as you reach each milestone, and be generous with your team. You cannot afford a slow, bronc on
your team – you need real athletes, performing at their peak to get you over the goal line. You need to
be prepared to ante up, get in and play. Value your people fairly and they will be happy to build a
successful company for you.
Good executive search professionals will have access to current compensation studies and will know how much a candidate is currently making before they are presented to you. Even in California, where there is a law that you cannot ask current compensation, a search person will know how to get this information. Search professionals will help you stay on top of current compensation for your teams. My clients know what the compensation levels are for each candidate we present and what components of
compensation are important to the candidate, too. For example, some candidates can flex on cash compensation in favor of more stock ( note, this is some, not all, and a minority). This information helps our clients make solid offers and good decisions about candidates, and how to hire and retain their best talent.