How to Recruit Top Talent Using the AVA

Jan 13, 2013 8:13:42 AM

If there’s one word that sums up one of today’s most talked about business topics it’s “WHO.” Who will take our company to the next level? Who will drive our profitability and productivity forward? Who will match our company’s culture and uphold our mission, vision, values and beliefs? Who might take my place as I continue on my own professional journey?


Indeed, finding and hiring top talent is on every business leader’s radar. And they’re turning to behavioral assessments to improve their process. In fact, a according to Psychology Today, “Around 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies use personality tests.”

At Keller Williams Realty, leaders and mega agents use the Activity Vector Analysis (AVA) – an assessment that accompanies the Recruit-Select-Train-Lead-Motivate™ (RSTLM™) process. The AVA tells business leaders the behaviors that will work best for specific functions and what types of people will have natural capacities to thrive in those jobs.

We asked Shari Harris and Jennifer Toomer, two Keller Williams team leaders, how the AVA has improved how they recruit and retain top talent.


Describe how the AVA assessment helps you find, hire and retain top talent.


Shari Harris: The AVA gives me a purposeful way to get into a deep relationship with a top talent. It also forces me to stay objective, so I don’t “fall in love” with a candidate. When we are smitten with someone we tend to miss red flags that might indicate this person is not a good fit. From the perspective of the recruit, the AVA helps them self-discover their strengths and uncover blind spots through an objective third party assessment.


Jennifer Toomer: When looking for top talent, the AVA has given me a glimpse into the future. It's like taking a shortcut to understanding the talent you hire and what drives them. Instead of "figuring out" how to motivate someone; how to create an ideal environment; how to coach them; I already have a cheat sheet on what makes them tick in so many areas. It sets up the probability of success for both the talent I am hiring, for my team and for myself.


Was there ever a time when you weren’t doing the AVA?


Harris: I’ll be 100 percent honest. When I first became a team leader in 2008, RSTLM™ was something that I saw on a team leader curriculum chart. I took it and checked the box. I thought, “Yippee that one is out of the way. I’ll review everything when I need to hire someone.” To say I didn’t know what I didn’t know is an understatement. Then, I had a really bad hire who ended up being a cultural terrorist in our market center. I had to face that it was my failure as a leader because I skimmed through the Recruit Select process.

Toomer: For years, I tried to "get better" where my natural behavior was not strong. RSTLM™ and the AVA taught me to go find people who have behavioral strengths that I do not have and let them run with their natural skill set.


What’s the different between a “great fit” and someone who can “just do the job?”


Harris: When you have a great fit, you are invested in each other’s success. A great fit is working in their strength zone and ideal environment for maximum career fulfillment. Someone who just gets the job done are so stretched and outside of their strength zone it puts stress and pressure on them. Eventually they implode and you either have to fire them or they quit.

Toomer: You can identify a "great fit" versus someone who can "do the job" by their energy level. They are empowered and exhilarated by the task, not worn out and exhausted.


What does validating a team member’s AVA do for you and the candidate’s relationship?


Harris: It strengthens the bond between team members and gives you a platform to discuss and celebrate their strengths. It’s one of the best ways to show your team that you care about them, their happiness and their fulfillment in their role. My team is much closer, and they are all raising their leadership lids!

Toomer: Validating someone's AVA truly bonds me to them, and vice versa. Regardless of whether we go into business together or not, we both walk away from the process better people, having learned something new and insightful about the person who took the AVA.

The AVA tool is a part of the RSTLM® System. How has the system and the assessment changed your perspective as a leader?

Harris: The by-product of embracing RSTLM® to hire talent is the amazing relationships you get into with your agents and your recruits. If they qualify as talent, I’m there to find out if I’m talking to a leadership candidate, a rock star mega agent in the making, an addition to our talent bench or an empire builder. Ultimately, I want to know what kind of opportunities we can create for this person, and would they ever leave if we are able to dial into that?

Toomer: The AVA has changed my trajectory as a leader because it has given me the ability to really KNOW my agents, my staff and the recruits I work with. When you truly know your people, you are a more effective leader because you can speak their language, communicate in a way that they understand and motivate them using the right trigger points.

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