[Podcast] Industry Spotlight | Jen Meyer – SVP and GM at Govig – Driving Process and Creating Growth Through Data

Show notes

In this episode of The Full Desk Experience’s Industry Spotlight, Kortney Harmon talks with Jennifer Meyer, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Govig & Associates. Jen has over 25 years of experience in Executive Search and has led teams to success. Her accolades include being the youngest woman franchise owner at MRI and having the record for most cumulative billings.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The operational and foundational aspects of staffing and recruiting that drive success
  • The importance of having a well-defined process and accountability to provide a comprehensive view of the business and to adapt to changing market conditions
  • Why it’s important to choose a platform and point solution to build your overall tech stack around
  • Jen’s experience in opening her own franchise, advice for aspiring leaders in the field and her overall leadership style
  • The keys to success in the shifting landscape of executive search

Transcription

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Our databases are vital. And one, I don’t have the memory anymore. I’m too old to remember what my conversations were or what was what. So I rely on it from that perspective. But it’s a protection thing too. And it’s, how do you maneuver faster? And you maneuver faster by having information at the tip of your fingertips, right? It’s like it’s being able to get to it and get to it quickly. So I am very meticulous on the data that goes in, how it goes in, why it goes in, and making sure that we can extract that data because there’s no point of putting data in there if you can’t extract it.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, staffing and recruiting industry principal at Crelate. This is the Full Desk Experiences Industry Spotlight series where we are talking with the top leaders and influencers who are shaping the talent industry. In this series, we’ll be shining a light on popular trends, the latest news, and the stories that lead the groundwork for their success.

On today’s episode, we’re going to be talking with Jen Meyer. Jen is the senior vice president and general manager at Govig & Associates in Arizona. Govig has been a part of the MRINetwork since 1978 and has not only been the number one office in the MRINetwork in 2022, but has been number one for nearly the last 30 years. As for Jen, she has more than 25 years of experience in executive search and leading teams to success. Jen was one of the youngest women franchise owners, I think the youngest franchise owner as a woman and ranked number one cash in during her leadership. That only compliments her incredible accolades and working at Govig where she was not only responsible for operations but also leads a team of recruiters and strategy and execution to grow national business. Oh, and I forgot she is still boots on the ground and runs a very successful desk herself.

So Jen, thank you so much for joining us. It’s an honor to have you here.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Thank you, Kortney. I appreciate you asking me.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Absolutely. We’re so excited. Now for our audience, Jen has truly has a wealth of experience in this industry having personally achieved success in a similar role to those of our listeners. She’s truly understands the challenges, the triumphs that this position gives us and is well equipped to offer valuable guidance to our entire audience. So today we’re going to focus on the operational and foundational aspects of our business that really drive success. Consistent well-defined processes and accountability for your teams to provide leadership with that comprehensive view of business in general that really allows your teams to adapt to the changing market conditions that we’re even seeing today.

As a staffing and operations leader, it is important to really pay attention to how other firms in our industry are moving and operating in these market cycles. And through our conversation today, you’re going to hear probably a theme that it truly starts with maybe choosing a platform, a point solution to build your overall tech stack around. It’s going to access realtime data for coaching, building, making business decisions for the now and where you want your business to be in the future. And maybe, just maybe, we can get Jen’s insights to when the right time is to make such decisions.

So Jen, I know I have been privileged enough to know your story and knowing you for a few years now, but can you elaborate a little bit more than I did about you, your team, your company, and just maybe how some of the stories that our audience will hear today can relate to and why it’s important?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

So I came over to Govig about seven years ago. Obviously as you said, I owned my own franchise and I was approached to take over a division for Govig for somebody that was retiring after 32 years. I mean just a complete legend in the business. So talk about pressure of having to fill somebody’s shoes. And I didn’t by the way, I don’t fill her shoes. So I took over our team.

And frankly just a lot of things had gone rogue. I mean they had really no processes. It was a team that was very individualized. People ran 360 desks and there wasn’t a lot of collaboration or camaraderie or anything like that. And I unfortunately had to realign the team. And so I cut the team in half and have been building and growing it for the last what? Seven years. So see, I took a year and I just tried to figure it all out and then I came in with the black cape basically and did the change. So we’ve been rebuilding since then. Right now we have 23 people on the team, five of which are operations people, like more internet researchers, sales support type of roles. And then the rest of them are ERs.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

So that’s for your division. What about the entire company? How many are in the entire company? Because I’ve seen pictures and there’s a lot of heads in that picture.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

There’s a lot. I believe we always hover around a hundred people in the entire organization. And about at least half of those are operations people from a management perspective, IT, TA, all of the support teams. But we do invest a lot in the fact that like, “Look, ERs are horrible at admin stuff” and that’s just the reality of all of us and we always expect them to be in that lane and they never are. So we really try to maximize people’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses and support, give them the support and the tools that just keep them on the phones.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

So it sounds like that black Cape encompassed culture as you came in, it encompassed metrics and driving and accountability. It encompassed a lot of things whenever you came in.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

100%. It was all about expectations, processes, goals, how we’re going to get there, behavior with who we are internally and externally, making sure that we’re training up the next generation. I mean we’re nobody if we don’t have anything in the next 10 years because everybody is retired, or God forbid somebody got hit by a bus, or won the lottery. I mean it just was all about sustainability of the team, what markets we were going to play in, what we weren’t going to play in anymore. I mean there was just a lot, a lot that had to be done.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

You talked about markets that you’re going to play in. Do me a favor and give our audience and listeners what are the spaces that you guys play in? I know we chatted about that yesterday, but tell us where your office in general, what spaces you’re in.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah, okay. So I have two counterparts in the office that are senior vice presidents. One oversees our biopharma division and they’re a national and sometimes even international presence where they oversee the pharmaceutical kind of world from concept to commercialization. We have a healthcare division, same, that our national and in all aspects of the healthcare world. And then my division, it was known as the Arizona market, which was really the backbone of our office 45 years ago where we worked on any type of role for any type of company, but we were very tight and specific of working just kind of primarily the Phoenix area. If we worked outside of that, it was because it was an ask from one of our clients, but it wasn’t something that we went out and we weren’t thoughtful in going out and finding that business.

When I came in, I’m a true believer of digs, right? I mean how do you know where to go if you don’t know where to go, right? So I’ve been trying to bring everybody into somewhat of a lane without also cutting us off from good business. And so right now as it stands, we do work nationally because that’s always been my world, right? I’ve just never worked in a tight geography. So we do work nationally, but I would say from a head down driving business, a lot of our businesses in the southwest region. Still most of it coming from Arizona, but we have expanded outside of that. And industry wise, we’re a lot more specific in back office operations being really primarily HR and accounting and finance. And we spend a big amount of our time in specific to the construction world and some manufacturing.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Amazing. Thank you so much for the insights for that. Now, in case our listeners missed it, Jen initially opened her own franchise within the MRINetwork and was really quite successful in doing so. So Jen, what inspired you to open your own franchise? Some people, its, “Hey, I don’t want to be my own boss.” But what inspired you to do that and what challenges did you face during that process of doing so?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, so in true transparency I just wanted to provide… I didn’t have a family at the time, but I was engaged and getting married and I wanted the opportunity to where, if and when I did have kids, that I had that world where if I could balance both and try to be a mom and try to be a business owner. And it also, I think just at the end of the day I wanted something that was mine. I was 28 years old, 27 years old, and I knew if I didn’t do it at that time, I was never going to be able to do it. So I ran a million dollar practice at that time. I had a non-compete that I completely upheld and walked away from and started my franchise. It was actually during the last recession in 2002. Everybody thought I was crazy. Or not the last, but the recession in 2002.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Right.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Because I went from running a million dollar practice to like, “I couldn’t rub two pennies together” type of situation. But I just figured I was just a risky person wise. Calculated, but risky. I just always believe we can fix it if it happens type of thing. And so in my mind, failure’s not an option. So I don’t ever have that thing. So that was the motivating factor of I just wanted to be able to say I did it, right?

The challenge was the timing of it, right? I mean it was 2002, there wasn’t business. I was walking away from a practice, which of course from an ethical perspective I was going to do, I wasn’t looking to hurt anybody and I had to start from scratch. So that first year I actually didn’t work on one search that first year. All of my placements came from… I mean in MRI, we call them MPCs or impact players where you’re taking a candidate to market. I build, I think it was like $340,000 that year purely on MPC placements in a brand new market and during an economy where people were like, “There’s no job orders,” right? So it was hard. I mean not going to… Well, I hesitate saying hard. I mean I feel like hard is fighting [inaudible 00:10:37], but it was definitely challenging and it was huge… It was an ego thing, right? I mean, your ego gets bruised a little bit daily when you’re in that situation.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

It does. But I love that you said that because we’ve actually talked about this. I was on a webinar for SIA and we were talking about merchandising talent in a recession when there’s no job borders. It’s creating that, those experiences, those scenarios when you don’t have the opportunity from your existing clients. But I love that you build $340,000 for the fact that there was no industry experience for that right there, but during a similar time that we’re experiencing right now. That is very impactful for our listeners as they hear this because you really made something of that.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I think that’s where in our space, even when I came in, I didn’t understand the lack of metrics or lack of tools to even gather the right metrics or what were the metrics that we were gathering. Because when I was in the business last time through that recession, when we went through the recession in ’08, I was owning my own franchise. I saw it coming. I mean a month before it happened, I saw it coming. And it wasn’t because there was like I was hearing things in the market, but it was like my metrics were shifting for no other reason than shifting and they were softening. So I was able to pivot quicker.

And in that ’08 recession, I mean I grew my office by 13%. I did not take a hit. And a lot of that came from the fact that one, yes, I knew that it was going to take 100 phone calls versus, two, to get a job order and I just had to put my head down and do it. But the reality was is that I knew I couldn’t stay in my space because I would just die on the vine. So when I came into this and I thought, “Well, we’re in a space of Arizona and we are very vulnerable to the rise and fall of the Arizona market,” that was not okay for me. You know what I mean? And so it just was taking the bull by the horns and just saying, “We’re going to do it.” You know what I mean? We have to do it, but we’ve got to have the metrics and the systems in place to know if what we’re doing is. And if it’s not, what do we do to change it?

Kortney Harmon, Host:

What does good look like?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Exactly. That’s exactly right.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love that. We’re going to come back to that topic, so we’re going to put that on the back burner. Obviously you have a strong track record of success in the executive recruiting space, including that youngest woman franchise owner at MRI. I’ll keep bringing that up, including those billings. I like to brag on you. But talk to me, can you share any advice that you have for aspiring professionals in our field and maybe even in a market cycle that we’re in right now? You just gave a little bit, but any words of wisdom for those people?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

When I first got in the business, one, I had a woman that I really looked up to that helped me out a lot in regards to just a go-to person for questions. One of the things that she had shared with me is, “If you’re asking yourself that question, don’t ever ask yourself. Ask the other person on the other end of the phone.” So it was just giving me the permission to ask the tough questions to either candidates or clients. So I learned that very quickly.

But to be honest, my motto in life has always been like, don’t cheat off the dumb kid, right? If there’s somebody-

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love that.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I know. That sounds stupid, but just like, if you’re going to copy something, don’t do it from somebody that hasn’t been successful.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Right.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

So often you hear people that will take advice and they’ll take guidance from people that have never done it before, right? Or they come into the business and they try to reinvent the wheel. And I’m not saying you can’t reinvent the wheel by your own voice, but if there is things that have worked time and time again, do that first, right?

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Mm-hmm.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Fail that way first. And then once you get that under your belt, then you can tweak it to your own style. I am one that I do not color inside of the lines, right? I don’t know how, I never have. When I got into the business, we did that chart of personality profiling, right? And that conformity side, I don’t even think there was a color line.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

It’s not there. It’s nonexistent.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I mean, it’s just not there, right? So I am not one to follow a process naturally. That’s just not who I am. I’m not one to follow the rules naturally in my personal or professional life. So it took a lot of discipline on my end to just stay within those lines. And now I’ve learned to become a little bit… I’ve kind of molded where I’m a little more disciplined in my personal life and I’m less disciplined in my business life and we’ve kind of found the right formula. But it was like I found those people out there because they’re out there that are willing to help you, but I only listened to the people that had done it before and been successful. And everything else was just noise in the background.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Such great advice. Mentorship is so key.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

It’s huge.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

And I love that you’re like, “I don’t conform. I don’t conform to…” But then you’re an operations person and you follow process and you hold data in metrics. I love the irony between that.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah. Hey, if following a process makes you money, hello, follow the process. Why do you have to be so-

Kortney Harmon, Host:

It makes money for everybody, more of it in the long run.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

More. Huge. Yeah.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Okay. So how has the background of yours, we kind of talked about that background of owning your own firm and truly being feet on the streets running your own desk, how has that influenced your leadership style at Govig? We just kind of talked a smidge about that, but anymore on that? How has it influenced your leadership style personally at Govig?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Well, I think for me, I’m never going to ask anyone of my team members to do something that I wouldn’t do myself, right? It’s not to say I’m doing it, but I have and I would if I needed to. My team knows. The good news and the bad news is I know what they do. The good news is I know what they do so I can empathize with the struggles and how they’re beating their head up against the wall and the conversations they’re having, and like you said, the highs and the lows of the business that just come naturally. But the bad news is I also know that. And so I know when they’re telling me lies or they’re just feeling sorry for themselves.

And so I’m a big tough love unfortunately type of person. I mean I’m a great cheerleader, but I’m going to tell it like it is. And so I think from a leadership style, people know that I’m just going to be real with them. I’m not going to candy coat anything. I do have a style that I do ask their permission. Like I ask them, “Okay, what are your goals? What do you want to be? What do you think you need to do to get there? On a scale from one to five, how motivated are you and dedicated are you to do it?”

And then based on that number, I’ll say, “Okay, based on that, I need your permission then. When I don’t see the behavior that’s going to get you there, I’m going to call you out on it. And I can’t have you get mad at me and I can’t have you feel like I’m micromanaging you. Because the reality is I hate to do it. Don’t put me in a position where I’m having those conversations, but I will. And I’m not having that conversation because I like to have that conversation or that I feel I need to have that conversation. I’m having that conversation because you gave me the permission to have that conversation.”

And so I do think that there’s a style there that is, I’m tough, but I like to have fun. I want people to make mistakes. People will not get in trouble for doing it. I like that they take the risks and I always have their back, but they will not always agree with my decisions, you know? [inaudible 00:17:57].

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Tough love is good, and honestly having the teammates to be able to go all out when they’re saying, “No, this is what I want.” So you are attributing to what their success that they want. So you’re helping drive that.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love it.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

And if they don’t want it, I’m fine with it, but I’m not going to break my back over it. I’m not going to carry their monkey is basically the reality. It’s their monkey.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love it. Now when we talk about that, there’s obviously challenges that you’ve faced in this role specifically, I know that there are SVPs and operations leaders that are probably going to listen into this podcast that would love the insight of an office that does over 500 placements a year. What are the challenges that you faced in roles? Here at Govig, yeah, you had the black cape, you kind of learned that in the beginning, but what other challenges are you facing that others might relate to?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I mean, look, I think that we face every challenge that every office of every size faces it, we just face it on a greater scale because we have so many people. You still have the challenges of getting people to put stuff into the system and making sure that they’re getting the right metrics and driving it that way.

One of the things that we’re heavily focused on, and it’s something that I am… We kind of put the stake in the ground prior to me being here, but then it kind of fell off and I’ve now taken the initiative of trying to give the tools and resources needed in order to go in this direction. But we really, really pushed from going from a contingency style firm to that direction of fully retained. And when I say fully retained, I don’t mean engaged. We’ve been doing engaged forever, but fully retained in the sense of we actually charge 1/3. Not 30% even. We charge 1/3, there’s three payments. It’s a fully retained thing. And we have made such strides in that area.

I mean, this year the largest placement that I was able to bring in and work with the team on the fee came to, I think it was like $318,000, right? One fee, right? So it’s just getting and playing in that space of, it’s like being a waitress, right? You can either be a waitress at Denny’s or you can be a waitress at the greatest steakhouse. Neither is a better or worse role. It’s just what do you want to do, right? Do you want to be in that fast paced, highly transactional, just moving, moving, moving your attitude which is there’s room for that in this business? Or do you want to be the person that’s super consultative, you’re working on less deals, they take longer, they’re more complex, but the fees are greater?

You have to have a lot of patience for those deals. And there’s everything in between. But where do you want, who do you want to be? We’ve decided as an organization that a majority of us want to play in the space where we’re getting bigger fees. That’s our biggest challenge because we walk away from a lot of business, we have tough conversations. You’re asking people that are barely getting job orders to say no and not negotiate your fees and not… You know what I mean? I think everybody in this business can relate to that. We just have 60 people who are telling you you need to walk away from business [inaudible 00:21:05].

Kortney Harmon, Host:

And when you’re starting out in this business and you’re hungry and you are desperate, there are so many people that would mow the neighbor’s yard or build an igloo or whatever someone needs. But that probably attests to your processes and your training that you teach them probably from the get-go that has made that lasting impact on your business is my guess.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah, I mean it’s all about what your worth is, what do you feel like your worth is. And if you don’t have a dialed in process that you can share with your client that is justifying why you charged the fee that you have, then don’t ask for it. Because at that point, you’re just pedaling backwards. If you’re committed to having that, then ask for the fee because you do deserve it. I think that’s where a lot of recruiters go wrong, is they just don’t know who they want to be when they grow up. Everybody wants the engagement fees and everybody wants the… Or they’re afraid they have a contingency client and they’re like, “Oh, well if I ask for an engagement fee now, they’re not going to want to work with me.” So okay, but they’ll come back. They’ll always come back. It’s like that love saying or whatever.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Set them free. And yeah, they all come back.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Whatever. I’m really bad [inaudible 00:22:10]. I’m really bad at those things. But it’s just like that. But it’s a hard decision. I mean that’s really, really tough. But what I will say is I’ve started a lot of digs that was just kind of my MO, is I was always great about starting new practices and then turning them over to people. The one thing I will say is that when you go out and you’re in the business new especially, or at any time you’re with a new client and you negotiate that fee, you will never get them off of that. You can’t raise them. It’s harder to shift somebody that you’re working with to new terms than it would be to just go out and find clients. And it’s hard to see that at the time. But I think as people are in this business, they got to know what their end game is. And whatever it is, it is. I don’t think that any of us can judge anybody as long as it’s moral and ethical. But you got to be true to it.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love it. And now for our listeners, not everybody is an MRI person.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Right.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Dig is discipline, industry and geography.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Oh, yes. Sorry.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

So it’s when you’re choosing what space that you want to work in… I just figured that. I’d revisit that just because [inaudible 00:23:16].

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

No, that’s good. That’s good. I forget.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love that.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yes. What is your specialty?

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Yes. Now obviously we’ve seen changes in executive search. How do you think executive search has changed and shifted as of recently? And maybe how do you think it’s going to continue to evolve? What have you seen in your business and organization and where do you see it might go?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I think as we sit today versus even where we were five years ago, and as some of this is just everybody has access to everything, is that our candidates and clients have just gotten a lot more intelligent. And I’m not saying they were stupid people, it was just that they weren’t intelligent about what we did. And so their expectations are a lot greater. And so I think conversations in getting business is a lot more difficult because the competition is still out there, but they know more, right? They’re asking tougher questions. And so I think that if you can’t go in not knowing your business, I think that’s difficult.

I think even… What? Six months ago it was all about a candidate driven market. And I’m not saying that it’s not anymore, right? I mean I think that we still have, it hasn’t completely shifted to the other side, but I think that we’re in the process of a reset. And frankly, we needed it. I mean it’s just not that I want people to be laid off and not that I like there to be hardship on anybody, but from a business perspective, we needed that. We need a reset because people were getting really unrealistic and it was driving this cost up for companies. And at the end of the day, they weren’t going to be able to sustain that cost, right?

So what we’re seeing today, we certainly have had a situation where we were busy, busy, busy. We didn’t have enough people to fill the roles that we had in regards to internally or candidates. I mean it was all around. We did come to kind of a screeching hall in November. All of a sudden we were just filling what we had, but we were in those normal conversations of not just, “Yes, we may have positions open, but we’re going to wait till Q1,” which is normal in November, right? But those conversations start to become, “Not only are we going to wait till Q1,” but it’s, “We’re going to evaluate it in Q1,” right? So there’s a lot of cautious optimism out there, but you’re getting into those conversations.

So we had to switch our dialogue because we were going from new roles within an organization because they needed more headcount to do the business to now we’re replacing. We’re in those top grading conversations of, “okay, so if you’re going to downsize or rightsize or whatever you want to call it or you’re not going to add these roles, are the people that you currently have talented enough and have the skillset to take on all of the responsibility that you are going to need them to take on?” And I would say it’s a 50/50 shot on whether they do or don’t, right?

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Right.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

And so your conversations start to create opportunities out there because you may have that person that could be better than their worst person, right? Or you could go find a person that is better than their worst person. I think the only thing that you’re overcoming with that is just this feeling of loyalty that people have to their people. Is it bad etiquette to be replacing somebody that you know already have? I mean there’s some of that, but the conversations shift.

We talked earlier and I said it’s been slow. And I’m telling you it’s just like it was manifesting it out in the marketplace or whatever, but we are. I mean even just in the last few days, people that were holding in November and December have come back to us. So I mean I don’t think we’re going to be where we were, right? I do think that there’s going to be a little slowdown and I think the most important thing is that the recruiters are going to have to just lean in a little bit more. But the business is out there. I mean for sure.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Have you shifted even with your teams to… I mean, I’m sure this is already part of your daily process, but have you pushed selling the merchandising talent, the MPCing concept within your teams right now with the slowdown?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yes. I go into it a little bit different to where I give them and say like, “Look, you may not place that person.” It’s just mainly giving you a point of conversation to go into and opening the dialogue. And I think that that’s a different mindset because it used to be taught to us like, “You’ve got to go out and place this person.” So you were just real slick and you were one track to say, “I got to place this person” and you weren’t listening to what the client was saying. But I really just tell my team like, “Look, you’re probably not and mean you have a 1% chance of placing this person and that’s fine.”

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Go play the lottery that day if you do because you’re onto something. But you’re right.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Exactly.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Actively listening what it sounds like you’re teaching your teams. It’s really actively listening. It’s really pushing those conversations in the right direction, not just the, “Hey, do you need a guy? I got a guy” kind of concept.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Exactly. I have a lot of young people on my team that came in for fulfillment because we had so many job orders and we’ve shifted to where their business developing, their MPCing.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

That’s awesome.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I do meet with them for two hours every week. We do call reviews, we sit. I need them to hear the buying signs. I’ve also leaned in a little bit to say like, “Look, just get the person open to a discussion with us. I’ll come in with you.” I do think that that’s another thing too, is that we don’t do enough of this. It’s always like what’s in it for me attitude. I think that people feel like, “Well, I don’t want to step in on that person’s toes because I want them to have the authority” or whatever the thinking is. I don’t think that way. I always think two heads are better than one. And so I do step in a lot with my team.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I think that’s great. They have a great mentor to be able… You talked about mentors, that you’re their mentor to be able to learn and hear and get something from someone else smarter than they are. So I think that’s amazing.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

You kind of just touched on this a little bit, so I’m going to steer this direction. Obviously one of the biggest challenges in leadership and staffing and recruiting in this industry is accountability with your teams. Some can look at it as that micromanaging. But from a leader’s perspective, it gives us that holistic view or point of view of the business that helps you make key business decisions, move businesses forward. Accountability is truly that key piece to our puzzle. We even talked last… I think in the last conversation you mentioned something about providing guidance and bumpers to your teams and the importance of that. Can you talk about how you foster that environment with your teams? What are the key operational items that you’ve maybe implemented? How do you get their accelerated success? Heck, or maybe something you tried that maybe hasn’t worked in the past because we’ve all had those failures, right? We’ve learned from those and gone forward.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I’ll tell you what has not worked 100% is when I don’t have them. That has not worked.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

When you don’t have them?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

It does not work. Have any guidelines, right?

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Ah.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

It does not work when a lot of the people… If you think about the people, and this is a stereotype a little bit. I mean recruiting as a whole, fortunately or unfortunately, has so many different types of people that have been successful. There’s not one formula to say, “If you have this type of background of personality, then you are going to be successful,” right? So this is a little bit of a generalization. But we do have an industry that is very competitive, right? No matter what. So you came from a competitive environment, whether it be debate or football or whatever, you’re going to be competitive.

And so if you look at anybody that is the best in their craft and anything, they had guidelines, right? They had that accountability. I mean we need it from losing weight, to working out, to anything, right? So I don’t know why accountability in our business would be any different. And it’s not… So I tell my team the way I use it, as I say, “Look…” Especially in the beginning because you don’t have it. I do manage everybody their own metrics. I don’t have an overarching metric where I say, “You have to hit this metric,” because I do think people have their own way of running their practices, right?

In the beginning, we kind of all know this is an overarching generalization of where you need to be. So we use that as a guideline within their first year. After that, it’s based on their own metric. And so you look at that and I always back into them to say like, “What do you want to make?” And we back into that to break it down, to almost reduce it to the ridiculous of what they need to do on an everyday basis to get there. But I also know that a week can make up a day, a month can make up a week, a quarter can make up a month. I mean, it’s not a do or die where I don’t want people navigating from a place of fear that if they don’t hit that metric on a weak basis or a month basis that I’m going to fire them, right? Especially if the effort is there.

At that point, you got to determine, because I share with them and I say, “Look, if you’re doing what needs to get done and you’re getting the results and those results are coming at the level that we have set as a minimum expectation on a result from a billings or cash in perspective, then usually I’m okay with that.” It’s when they’re not that I have to manage to the metrics. And I don’t like managing the metrics because again, I mean I’m not an operational person that loves analytics. I don’t like to sit there and crunch numbers, right? But I will manage to the metrics if it gets them to where they need to go. But if I don’t have those metrics, I don’t even know what to shift or adjust. So they’re actually putting themselves at a disadvantage and they’re doing themselves a disservice and myself a disservice if I can’t guide them.

And I tell them when I hire them like, “Look, I’m here to make you successful, but if you’re not going to give me the tools to do it, if I wasn’t going to give you the tools to do it, then why are we even getting into this?” So I don’t want them… Again, a big thing is the navigation of fear where they’re only as good as their last placement or they’re only as good as their last… Or they have phone time that we’re managing and they’re just doing it for the sake of getting phone time. You know what I mean? What does that mean? That doesn’t even make sense.

So there are baseline metrics that I measure, that I track, but I really only bring them to play in the beginning for a rookie to know what their bumpers are, “Here’s the lane that you need to stay in. If you have high phone time and low call volume, but you got something out of it, great. If you have high call talk time and low volume, but you got something out of it, great. If you have high both, fantastic. But if you have low both with no results, then we got an issue,” right? So it’s just like looking at that. Usually I get buy-in around that where people don’t mind sitting down and talking about it because it’s just not I’m not talking at them, I’m getting their buy-in from that.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Now are you able to manage that all through your ATS mostly with all of the metrics and the goals and the accountability that you have within your team? I mean for those operations people that are on the other end of this like you, I know as well as I do, there’s people, they have this spreadsheet and they have a this and they have to, “Well, if you want this report, give me two days or two weeks to be able to compile all the things that you need.” Are you able to manage all of your information with your teams on accountability through your ATS?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

For the most part. We’ve certainly had situations where we’ve had to manage it externally, or maybe our platforms didn’t talk to each other in the sense of just say we’re integrated with one another. So that sometimes gets difficult. We certainly have gone through the paces of double work of taking it out of this and putting it on this spreadsheet and all this. We’ve absolutely streamlined that. So I would say almost all of our reports can be pulled from one area now

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Snapshot of the business, live on the go. There it is. As you function, you get reports. Shameless plug, I hate to say this, but our last conversation, we really talk about your office’s recent decision to change ATSs and you actually, selfish plug, came to Crelate. We’re very excited to have you.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah, it’s been great.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Talk to me about the decision making process of why now. Because we’ve talked about this potential looming gray cloud that we have going on that makes people panic. So why did your team make the decision right now to make the change of an ATS?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

At the end of the day, it came down to the fact that we were using a pretty archaic system, right? The system was not working for us. So for many reasons it was very clunky. It wasn’t easy to navigate. There wasn’t the reporting stuff that we could get out of it. We didn’t have the texting capability and all this stuff from a record keeping. So people were having to do double duty to track it so they weren’t. You know what I mean? It was just all of that. And that’s a protection thing too. I mean I just got into a fee dispute, right? So it’s like I had all the information because it was all right there. Well, if I didn’t have that, I don’t have a leg to stand on, right? So part of it was that. That we just knew in order to keep our business, at least at times, I mean we weren’t even shooting for ahead of times at that point, we had to do something, right?

The reason we made the decision to do it now frankly, was because we were slow. Slower.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Okay.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

It’s tough, right? It’s a big investment. Everybody’s hands are up in the air because they don’t know how to even log in. It is a tough decision to make those, and it is labor intensive and it’s challenging anytime you change a system that doesn’t have anything to do with Crelate. Crelate, that was actually been a lot easier, but it’s going to be challenging, right? But because it was slower, our people have the time to learn it. I mean, if we were where we were even last February, there is no way we could have. I mean we were in the midst of huge initiatives of a hundred positions. I mean, there’s no way that people could have stopped and said, “Okay, I need to go through this hour training,” or, “How do you do this or work slow enough through a workflow to know how to do it.” I mean, just their hair was on fire.

And so we knew we were going to get a ton more pushback and we were going to lose a ton of momentum if we were making the change when things were at its best. So again, huge financial investment, which everybody has to think about. But when you think about from an implementation perspective and trying to do it in a way where we’re not going to have so many hiccups, the smart thing to do for us was to do it when we were slower.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

It’s a really good perspective. It’s almost the concept of slowing down to speed up too.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Exactly.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

So I think that’s really interesting. Now, I know just based on Govig and my experience in the network working with MRI, you guys are pretty meticulous with your data is my guess, right?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah. Yeah. Especially me, yeah.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Especially you. Have you ever had those instances… I know we probably have a bunch of listeners and I’ve worked with a bunch of offices that they’re like, “Well, someone didn’t put something in or they didn’t follow a process.” But it sounds like to me, and you correct me if I’m wrong, it sounds like you’re very deliberate on A, your training, B, your coaching. So you’re able to be able to make sure that data is incorrectly. So A, am I right on that? And then B, have you ever had an instance that, “Hey, I’ve had to do coaching,” or “Hey, this is this important that we can’t let it go”? Because I’m sure there’s people out here that are like, A, if it doesn’t get in the system, it doesn’t get in the system.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I mean, I think all managers are a little different. I will tell you how I manage. And I am like our databases are viable, right? One, I don’t have the memory anymore. I’m too old to remember what my conversations were or what was what, so I rely on it from that perspective. But it’s a protection thing too. And it’s how do you maneuver faster and you maneuver faster by having information at the tip of your fingertips, right? It’s like it’s being able to get to it and get to it quickly. So I am very meticulous on the data that goes in, how it goes in, why it goes in, and making sure that we can extract that data. Because there’s no point of putting data in there if you can’t extract it, right? So that’s really what I rely on, is that.

The other pieces of, we have a lot of overlap on our team, so we have a lot of people that are in the same space. And so you have a situation where people could be making the same calls to the same people and then that just makes you look bad, right? If somebody’s like, “Oh well I just got a call from your company yesterday” or whatever, that’s just terrible. I wasn’t going to get into dispute conversations about who owned what client. And I wasn’t going to get into dispute conversations of who owned what candidate. I just wasn’t.

And unfortunately Kortney, I have had a couple situations where top billers, I mean my key people didn’t have something in there and felt that they were owed a fee and I didn’t pay them. I mean I just had to draw that line and they didn’t like it. I didn’t like having the conversation. But at the end of the day, they’re the ones that put me in the situation of having to have that conversation. I didn’t do it. And they were very clear with what my stance was. There’s always gray in our business, right? That’s just business in general.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Absolutely.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

But there are things that can be black and white. And those things that are black and white, you’ve just got to draw that line in the sand. It’s just like parenting, right? It’s like anytime you give a little, they’re going to want more. And you know what? I would too if I was on the other side. So I don’t blame or judge or anything, but it’s got to be like, “This is my stance.” And so because of that, because they know, they could do all the work. And if it’s not in there, it didn’t happen. It’s in there.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I bet it only happened once is my guess.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Twice, but not with the same person.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Okay, fair.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Oh, yes.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Everybody learned from that. And especially you joke about getting old, but your office makes 1,500 calls a day.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yes, everyday.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Nobody care. I don’t know. When I was running a desk, I couldn’t remember at the end of the day the 60 people that I called.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

No.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

So if you’re not putting it in, you’re not being able to track it, then how are you being able to be coached? How do you know what good looks like and how can you get better from it?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah, absolutely.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love it.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Because whenever you have a job order, you look at it and if things aren’t going the way that you want, you’re always thinking about, “Okay, is it effort or is it the job order?” And a lot of times it’s effort because we always think we’re making more, doing more than we are, right? It’s just reality. But a lot of times it’s effort. But you can’t even go to a place of knowing that if you don’t have the metrics.

I’ll tell you what, I wish I had these numbers. I didn’t think about it before we got on this, but I cannot tell you how many jobs we have filled on full retain, full retainers, that it was a one and done job because we can sit down with our clients. We don’t only use those metrics internally, right? We will sit down with our clients and we will say, “Hey, here are how many people that we’ve reached out to. We’ve reached out to 1,500 people,” whatever it is, right? “Out of those 1,500, we’ve had 300 conversations. Out of those 300, these amount of people happy. Here’s who weren’t interested because of location, compensation was too low,” whatever it was, right? And so we’re giving that data to our clients to give them market knowledge of what’s happening in their market real time, not from these crazy websites and allowing them to make the decision that they need to make for their own team.

And because of that, we’ll tell them like, “Look, we’d love to put three to five candidates in front of you, but the reality is it may be one.” But we can get the decision off of that one because they know that they’re not going to look at us and say, which we’ve all heard, “You know what? I liked them, but I want to see who else is out there.” I mean we’ve all heard it, right? And it’s just like, “Ugh,” you know? We don’t have those conversations when we have the numbers. When we don’t have the numbers, guess what conversation we get into all the time?

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Exactly that.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Show me more. Show me more. Show me more. So it’s not just internally. It’s not only just an internal guideline of, “Are we doing our job and how are we doing it?” But it’s a tool that we use for our clients to get the fees that we get and to have the process that we have.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

But that’s that change to that consultative approach. There are so many people that are desperate for business and they’re like, “What do you need? Do you need a purple horn and a green ear and all of those things? I’ll find it for you.”

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

All of it. Yeah.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

And it won’t exist because clients, let’s face it, they’re unrealistic. When I was running a desk, there was someone that said, “Oh, I need someone with iOS experience for 20 years.” But it didn’t exist. But they wish for the moon. But when you take the approach to say, “Here I am in all transparency, this is what I can do. This is what other clients I’m seeing,” and you have that full spectrum, you are giving them more knowledge that not only they can use themselves, but they can take to their leadership teams.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

And also when you’re in that pitching mode of trying to just get the search and determining whether you want it or not, it’s not even about whether they’ll give it to you, it’s about whether it’s a good search for you to work on, to be able to say to them, “Look, we just wrapped up a search very similar to this and here are metrics. Here’s an executed timeline. Here’s what you’re going to be looking at.” And it’s not just saying like, “We’ve called everyone. We threw the net out there and boiled the ocean and talked to everyone.” Anytime you have data, data points, it is so powerful in your conversations because non-emotional. It just is what it is. And they can decide, you can decide. And it stops the rollercoaster that this business can be.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

So many importance of that one system of record and being able to find data easily. So I love it.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Yeah, it’s great.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I have two more questions. I probably won’t keep you any longer. I probably could talk to you all day. The first one of those two is, can you tell us any more about your plans to upgrade anymore of your tech stack at Govig? How you plan to improve any efficiencies within your business? Is there anything else on your horizon?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

It’s funny that you just asked that because I literally just walked out of a leadership meeting that we’re going to be pulling all of our subscriptions, what are we paying, where are, what are we using, what are we not using. There is a couple that I know we’re looking into. And I apologize because the names are escaping me. But I mean it is something that we do look at an annual basis and we actually just talked about it probably makes sense to look at it semi-annually because it’s always changing, right? That’s the thing, is as soon as you decide to get something from a technology perspective, the next best thing has come out, right? But you got to look at what’s working for you. And so I can’t really answer that, but I will tell you, we’re always looking at it.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love that.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I don’t think we’ve ever not.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love that. Number one, being open to the conversation and open to… I love that you evaluate. I had a recent conversation with Maurice Fuller from StaffingTec, and he really talks heavily about technology, [inaudible 00:45:48] consults. But it’s one is, are you getting out of your systems? What you need, number one, to make sure we’re paying what we need. Evaluate, but never stop looking. But I think the other caveat is that is, don’t be fooled by these technologies that say they’re the silver bullet, that they’re going to fix your problem in your company.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

100%.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

But reality, it’s a process problem or a data problem or another problem. So just to have open eyes of those concepts I think is crucial whenever evaluating.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I would agree with you 100%, Kortney. I mean a lot of people just do it because they’ve always done it. And I will say we do have actually something in our system that we track where placements come from, right? So we can evaluate it annually and say, “Okay, well we’re investing this amount of money in this process or product, but did we get a return on investment from it?” And there are times the answer’s no. And we go, “That didn’t work” and we move on. And there’s times that the answer is yes and we continue to do it or we get more licenses or whatever. But yeah, we’re always open to those.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

That’s wonderful. My last and final question, Jen, is do you have any last words of wisdom for leaders in the talent business as they start their new adventure this upcoming year? So any words of wisdom for our audience listeners?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I mean, listen, I don’t know if this is wisdom other than don’t try it. If you’re going to try something, go try something else. If you’re going to do it, just do it, right? Lean in and do it. It takes a lot of commitment. It takes a lot of focus. It takes a lot of thoughtfulness. But be committed because I feel like people that just try it… And it’s with anything, it doesn’t even mean that they’re new in the business. It could be that they’re trying a new direction, right? Trying to find a new industry to specialize in. Whatever it is, right? Just put the stake in the ground and be committed to doing it. Because if you’re just trying it where you have the toe in the water, you’re always going to find excuses as to why it’s not working versus looking internally and saying, “What am I doing that is either affecting it in a good way or affecting it in a bad way?”

So either commit or don’t, but don’t be half and half out on anything. And again, I don’t know if that’s wisdom, but it just is. This is a great business. I mean a fantastic business. I’m an outdoor rec major in college. I’m not-

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Nice.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I’m not really equipped to be anybody, but I worked hard and I put good people around me and I was willing to take the chances, but I was all in and I’ve always been all in. Right now, I don’t even know if I’m hireable anywhere else because I’m in a perfected class. But I just feel like there’s no other business that I think would’ve afforded me the life that I’ve had. And I do get really excited for people around me to have that same opportunity because it really is… What other business do you know that could be so involved in learning and talking to key CEOs and strategizing with them and sitting at the table with them and having such a wide variety of conversations. I mean, if you’re somebody that’s intrigued by that or you’re somebody that’s curious, you just have a natural curiosity, this business will fulfill everything in your work, right?

Kortney Harmon, Host:

[inaudible 00:48:58].

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

But it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy, but I think it’s worth it for sure.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I love that. That is great words of advice. I probably could use that. Can I record that and put it on repeat for some of my own personal motivational stuff?

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I’m going to frame it and put it up on your wall.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

I just need a cardboard cutout.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

And don’t cheat off the dumb kid.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Yep. I need a cardboard cutout as well, so you can tell me to go get motivated. I love it.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

I doubt it, Kortney. Not you. Not you.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

Thank you so much for joining us today. This was fantastic and I really enjoyed our conversation.

Jen Meyer, SVP & GM – Govig:

Absolutely. It was good to see you and thanks for having me.

Kortney Harmon, Host:

It was good to see you too.

Now, Jen gave us some really key information to show what good looks like through operations, managing teams, accountability, and really through data. And as you’re having these conversations and leading your teams into next year or this year I should say, be sure to have those deliberate conversations and establish that foundational process and measure them before your firms and agencies are really sprinting to scale or trying to find that magic bullet or pain point of your business.

Jen said if it didn’t happen in the system, it didn’t happen at all. And I fully agree. So having your platform and point solution to build not only your tech stack, but your team around with driven collaboration, cohesion, and data that will strengthen your organization and streamline where you want your organizations to be in the future.

So please keep an eye out for our next Industry Spotlight releasing in February, where I will get to sit down and talk with Lauren Jones, founder of Leap Consulting, co-host of You Own the Experience Podcast and advisor for the staffing and recruiting industry. We’ll talk to her about her journey to success and what she’s seen in consulting and roadmap mapping for the future, evangelizing your tech stack and the differentiators that you can create for your organizations. Thanks so much for joining us for The Industry Spotlight.

I am Kortney Harmon with Crelate. Thanks for joining us for this episode of Industry Spotlight, a new series from the Full Desk Experience. New episodes will be dropping monthly. Be sure you’re subscribe to our podcast so you can catch the next Industry Spotlight episode and all episodes of the Full Desk Experience here or wherever you listen.

Filed under: Full Desk Experience