[Podcast] Kortney Harmon Keynote | Cut Through the Noise – Quality over Quantity: Rethinking Technology

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Show notes

Kortney Harmon joins Dave Turano on Cut Through the Noise to delve into the importance of quality over quantity in engagement, both in staffing and sports. They discuss the pitfalls of over-relying on technology, the critical need for effective communication and leadership, and why pushing employees towards roles they’re not trained for can lead to high turnover and dissatisfaction.

Tune in as they explore the fragility of companies reliant on a few key clients, the necessity of providing consistent and meaningful value, and the significance of adopting a relationship-based approach over transactional interactions. Join us as Kortney and Dave dissect the industry’s challenges, share personal stories, and highlight the power of engagement and leadership in driving success. Don’t miss out on this insightful episode packed with valuable advice and real-world experiences!

Follow Dave Turano on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidturano09/
Follow Cut Through the Noise on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cttnpodcast/
Follow Crelate on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/crelate/


Kortney Harmon [00:00:01]:
Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, director of industry relations at Crelate. Over the past decade, I’ve trained thousands of frontline recruiters and I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners and executives to help their firms and agencies grow. This is the full desk Experience, a crelate original podcast where we will be talking about growth blockers across your people, processes and technologies. Welcome to another episode of the full Desk Experience. Hello and welcome to another episode of the full Desk Experience. This episode is going to be a little bit different. I had a chance to be a guest on Dave Toronto’s podcast cut through the noise, and we had an amazing discussion. The mood of the staffing world has been a little bit flat lately and with numerous companies reporting significant downturns in business, we discussed this and we talked about the slump that a lot of people are in.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:03]:
I offered my perspective, the reasons behind it, but more importantly, we talked practical solutions that staffing professionals can implement to overcome these challenges. So during our conversation, we really talked about the importance of having a solid process in place, particularly when it comes to driving engagement, consistency, confidence within your sales and recruiting teams. So for those looking to revigorate their operations team and really dive into sales, get ready to take notes and prepare to be inspired. If you haven’t followed Dave’s podcast on cut through the noise and I hope you enjoy this conversation.

Dave Turano [00:01:39]:
Kortney Harmon, how are you today?

Kortney Harmon [00:01:42]:
I am wonderful for this Monday morning. Today in Ohio, it’s going to be warm spring. Finally got the memo, so I’m super excited.

Dave Turano [00:01:49]:
Excellent. And you know, I was just talking right before we started recording and we both decided to do this at 09:00 on a Monday morning, which was we’ll see how it goes. We’re coming off of March Madness. We’ll see how it goes. But you look awake. I’m awake and I’m excited for the conversation.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:02]:
We’re here. I love it. Thank you so much for having me.

Dave Turano [00:02:04]:
You got it. You got it. So let me get you a quick intro and then you tell me if I missed anything. So right now I have you as the director of industry relations at a company called Crelate. Did I pronounce that properly?

Kortney Harmon [00:02:15]:
You are absolutely on it and it’s.

Dave Turano [00:02:17]:
A platform for sharing, staffing and recruiting expertise. I’ll let you expand on that in a second. You’re also a podcast host of a show called the Full Desk Experience. I just listened to an episode this morning. Very well done, very professional. More so than this one.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:31]:
Thank you.

Dave Turano [00:02:32]:
And then on a personal note, you’re married, you’re a mom, and you’re a softball enthusiast. So I’ll stop there. You tell me if you want to fill in the blanks.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:40]:
If there’s anything I missed, you’re on it. Been in the industry for over 15 years. Obviously, when we get into this industry, it’s usually not what we want to do when we grow up, but we’re here to stay. And it truly has a big chunk of my heart, so love it. I’m excited. Create is an ATS CRM. I’m just the dot connector between the two. The actual industry versus the software and how they do things.

Dave Turano [00:03:03]:
Okay, great. So we’re going to talk a lot about staffing. We’re going to talk a lot about process. I know you’re big into process, as am I. Before we get into the depths of staffing and process, I wanted to just get your take on the mood of the industry or the vibe of the industry in its current state today. What’s your take on it?

Kortney Harmon [00:03:23]:
You know, there was a lot of people that we have seen kind of panic. It’s shift gears. This industry ebbs and flows all the time, but it maybe feels different. At the end of last year, a majority of the firms that we’re talking to were down anywhere from 15% to 30%. They were getting into the idea that we actually had to sell again, and it’s like we forgot how to do that. So they’re looking for this magic thing to change. In reality, what it comes down to and what I’m seeing, those firms that are still being successful is being balanced throughout their desk and throughout their business, and not forgetting to do the foundational things that made you successful in the first place. So its going back to revisiting those mechanics and the foundations and figuring out, okay, I know how to do this, its like riding a bike, right?

Dave Turano [00:04:06]:
And you say sell. I would assume that that term applies to the people out there developing relationships with the clients, which is the entity that buys. But also on the printing side as well, I would assume.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:15]:
Yeah, it goes with both. I mean, we focus on business development a lot, and we honestly haven’t had to go flex that muscle in a very long time because opportunities were knocking at our door through post Covid change. We didn’t have to go out and flex this muscle of, hey, do you want my services? Or hey, this is why you should come work for me. Because now employers have to be an employer of choice. They have to sell themselves too. So we have to work on selling that opportunity to the candidates. So it actually is. It’s both sides of the house.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:44]:

Dave Turano [00:04:44]:
You’re big into process. You have a sports background. And I think if you want to develop, you know, I think about just growing up, I only played baseball for a short period of time, but my kids have all played multiple sports. And I think about children when they first get into sports, the ones that survive early or succeed early are usually the bigger, faster kids. And if they’re not careful, those are the kids that rely on their size and speed to outperform the other kids. And they almost at times forget or aren’t taught to develop the other side, the skills, the fundamentals. So if you’re dominant righty, maybe you’re not developing the left. I think the same thing happened to the industry where you survived based on, hey, I’m here, the opportunity’s coming to me.

Dave Turano [00:05:26]:
Maybe you didn’t even realize you had skills to develop, but as far as process goes, where do you think the industry needs to look? What are the fundamentals that need to be developed that haven’t been developed?

Kortney Harmon [00:05:37]:
Well, first off, I may say something a little controversial. AI is here. Yes, but we are oftentimes too reliant. I don’t know about you, Dave, but as coaching in the industry, it’s like, oh, I’ve got this 16 email step strategy to get what I need done, or I’m going to get new logos. I just don’t understand why it’s not working. And we forget that the reason we got into this business in the first place is because we truly wanted to help humans. Right. That’s why we got here.

Kortney Harmon [00:06:03]:
Or that’s what enticed us to the idea. And we now get so reliant on. Well, this business can be done via a text message or an email or a LinkedIn message. And can it? Yes. Can you scale? Can you grow? I haven’t seen many do that successfully. And I just did a talk at the Massachusetts staffing Association, and I really said in sports, I don’t know about you, we always had a word of the year, right. It was help us to get re energized, refocus, and focus on what really mattered at that point in time. And I proposed engage.

Kortney Harmon [00:06:35]:
Engagement is the year of 2024. Because with all of the things and all the distractions that we have, we have to truly get back to understanding people, knowing people, understanding the pain points. Yes, we can use AI and the tools and the shiny silver bullets of technology to get us there faster, but you cannot overlook that. So it’s a crutch that we’re relying on, and some of us are really falling to the fault of the technologies we’re implementing because we’re relying on that solely.

Dave Turano [00:07:02]:
Yeah, I came from a large staffing company, and then we were ultimately acquired and grew into a billion dollar company, roughly. And then now that company is something like $20 billion. During that time, we adopted technology. We created it on our own, and you could do almost anything with it. Email distributions, people could apply on. This was 20 something years ago. And as convenient as it was, it was also a pain in the butt. There was a lot of junk coming in and going out of the system.

Dave Turano [00:07:33]:
And at the end of the day, the most successful salespeople and recruiters were always those with the strongest relationship. So we used the technology. We weren’t reliant on it. I bring that up because I think the companies that have the largest voices right now are the tech companies, the tech companies in the space, selling into the space. I have not seen the growth in most staffing companies. I’ve seen pockets of growth in some, but not because of the tech. What’s your take on that? Where’s the myth? Technology is needed. We need it.

Dave Turano [00:08:05]:
But why are we overreliant on it? What has caused that to happen?

Kortney Harmon [00:08:09]:
It’s the easy button. That’s my opinion. You know, as an athlete, I like to figure out the root cause. Like, okay, I use this analogy all the time. I was a pitcher, a d one pitcher. And if I couldn’t get criticism on my no hitter from my father or my coach or whoever it was, I could never throw my perfect game, right? And that’s the ultimate goal as a pitcher. But the same goes in business. We oftentimes get on this, like, well, if I just make more calls or if I just do more things, we get caught up in, like the KPI hamster wheel, right? Just do more.

Kortney Harmon [00:08:40]:
And I think AI is kind of the same thing. I just did a podcast with Maurice Fuller on the top ten AI trends, and he said the new gold standard, which kind of had me floored, was 100 automations per organization. Now, we didn’t dive into the specifics, but if you think of referrals, references, candidates, business development, I mean, the list can go on. But in reality, what that’s doing, it’s the do more mentality. It’s not standing out differently. It’s not being unique. And it’s almost like that’s your right of passage to get into this business in reality, where, you know, we might be just measuring the wrong things. So it’s not necessarily how many touches you have, but what is the quality of those touches.

Kortney Harmon [00:09:18]:
So I use this with my eight and ten year old. Maybe it’s the quality of what you do, not the quantity or how fast you do it. It’s not necessarily the easy button. The easy button doesn’t get you more, it gets you more quantity, just not more quality.

Dave Turano [00:09:31]:
What would you say is the biggest from a quality perspective and a process perspective, what’s the first step as say, a recruiter to generate quality?

Kortney Harmon [00:09:41]:
I go back to engagement. Yeah, you have to be engaged as an operations person in your organization. Just because you made a process ten years ago, that doesn’t mean that process still exists. So we are in the rapid state of adding technologies. Whether it’s an AI note taker or a new system or something for automations, your processes are going to change based upon those new technologies. Don’t have twelve sourcing tools and you don’t have a process in which to follow. Your teams are going to be confused. I don’t know about you, but whenever I go in to consult for an organization, they’re like, well, I just chose that node action type because that was, seemed like the most logical, but there was no training, there was no process.

Kortney Harmon [00:10:19]:
And in reality, those leaders were making this false premise of where their business was going and forecasting because of that one node action type. But no one in the organization knew how to use it. Lo and behold. It’s amazing how we get to where we are without ever revisiting the foundational things. So whether it’s a process, if it’s your top performer that you’re relying on, great. I don’t know about you. When I was in sports, yep, we had, we practiced everything, all of our plays, all of our buns, all of our pitches. I had to go an hour early for pitches.

Kortney Harmon [00:10:50]:
We get back to the idea of, are you teaching your teams how to respond to resistance? Because resistance is a thing today.

Dave Turano [00:10:56]:

Kortney Harmon [00:10:57]:
Are you giving your teams the tools for scripts? Like, it goes back to super, super basic stuff that we often just say, well, they’ll be fine, they’re doing fine. And whenever times get tough, that’s what really matters and how those teams, aka companies, come out of this.

Dave Turano [00:11:11]:
Trey. So most of the work I do right now is on the leadership side. I would say 75% leadership, 25% sales. Yeah, it’s all the same stuff, though, because it all comes down to your ability to develop and maintain relationships with other people and the biggest challenge I see on the leadership side is an inability or a reluctance to say what needs to be said, to confront what needs to be confronted in an appropriate way. But there’s a lack of confidence when it comes to communicating in a candid manner with another person. And that’s on the leadership side. That’s with board members or investors, other vps, etcetera. The same problem exists with recruiters and salespeople.

Dave Turano [00:11:53]:
So no matter what the technology, AI, automation, at the end of the day, the business is a people business. I think Maurice in that podcast talked about automation being kind of, I don’t know what he said, something like, in ten years, 30% of the industry will have adopted it. That’s still not a lot. That means 70% is still not there. But even if it is there, it’s still a people business. So ultimately it’s going to be, can the human talk to the human? Even if you automate a person going to work, that person is now working with other human beings, and there are communication issues that inevitably will come up. I guess where I’m going with that one is, what are we doing to improve a person’s ability to communicate with another person? Because inevitably, that’s where they end up.

Kortney Harmon [00:12:41]:
I’m asking you, how do you break the cycle? Because it’s a cycle. It’s taught, it comes down to, or that’s your environment. I mean, even at the kids our age, like my kids age, they’re eight and ten, they want this thing, they want this screen, you know, and then they. They become jerks after they have it, because they don’t know how to communicate then. So I think this is a problem stemming from a much younger age to now. They’re just big kids in a boardroom now, and they, you know, it’s their devices. I don’t know. I think as I look at my journey, sports has really changed me.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:14]:
Sports is really the thing that drove me, that got me to a place where I accepted feedback. I actually welcome feedback. I want you to tell me something wasn’t great so I can fix it, because there’s a lot of people that listen. There’s a lot of people that listen to you. There’s a lot of people that listen to me. I just want to know, how do we make it better? And that’s my mentality, but I know that’s not a lot of people’s mentality.

Dave Turano [00:13:34]:
So let’s talk about softball. So when did you start playing softball?

Kortney Harmon [00:13:38]:
Ironically, I actually got cut from my softball team the very first year I tried out, I was a little puny, tiny little thing similar to what my daughter looks like today about this big around. I couldn’t throw the ball from first to second and that was at twelve and under. So I was probably ten years old. And you’re right, the kids that were bigger, stronger at that age excelled sooner but they slowly, they peaked out at twelve and under or 14 and under. Where my drive, my consistency, my foundation, my father pushing me kind of kept me in the game and I’m one of the few that actually got a full ride for pitching from my school.

Dave Turano [00:14:10]:
Fantastic. So you started off with a speed bump. You didn’t make it but you wanted to go back. You had some encouragement from your dad and then you went back and worked on whatever you needed to work on. You grew a little bit but I’m sure you were doing some, you were practicing outside of practice. You were probably practicing or whatever. What compelled you to want to keep doing that? I mean think about all the kids that get cut and quit or get cut and feel bad for themselves. It’s hard.

Dave Turano [00:14:36]:
I’ve seen it happen. It’s really, really hard. It’s emotionally difficult on a lot of kids back then, maybe less so. Back then sports probably didn’t have the same spotlight on them that they do today. But what kept you coming back? Wanting to work? Where did that curiosity or drive come from?

Kortney Harmon [00:14:54]:
You know, I asked my mom and dad the same thing today. I’m like when did I become competitive? Because I’m not seeing that out of my kids yet. Should I be alarmed? But no, it wasn’t. So I think the big thing from them was support. So from them it was my dad taking me to the park every day or building the confidence because so many times I see that now. I coach my daughter’s eight year old team and there was a really good portion of the team that they moved up and then there’s younger girls that it was like, well you’re just not as good. You’re the b team. Great, I understand that.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:25]:
But now we’ve had, we were from 13 girls to 24. There’s 24 at eight years old that they want to, it’s like oh this is fun. But it comes down to support in the environment that they have and I think we can learn a lot about that in business and supportive environments versus, you know, our industries are very cutthroat so supportive environments actually thrive more. And I think that’s what I saw. I was lucky, I was blessed. My parents never missed a game. My dad missed two innings of my entire career. That’s twelve year old through college all over the country.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:56]:
So I attribute all of my stuff to my parents and the support to support me through that until I gained the confidence that gave me the competitive edge, which I didn’t get till much older. I was told I was a sophomore before I became competitive.

Dave Turano [00:16:08]:
Zachary, somebody said that that’s when they.

Kortney Harmon [00:16:09]:
Saw the drive in you my mom and dad, yes. And now you want to play tiddly winks. Dave, you’re going down. I hate to break it to you, I just, I never had that in the beginning. So I think it’s how we foster that.

Dave Turano [00:16:20]:
It’s funny you say that. I loved playing until I hated playing. It went from I love this game to I hate that coach, and it was terrible. I got to a point where we had a couple of coaches, they would yell at you if you didn’t cry, and I didn’t cry. If I didn’t, I’d be mad, maybe if I lost or screwed up, but I just couldn’t get to the point where I was crying and the kids who were crying were hugged and rewarded. But if you weren’t crying, they were yelling at you. And so I ended up quitting. And my dad for years was so upset that I refused to play again.

Dave Turano [00:16:53]:
And I was like, I’m just not going to listen to them. I’m not going to listen to somebody talk to me that way. I look back, I’m like, God, what an idiot I was. I should not have quit and they should have never let me quit. But I did. So with kids, with my kids, we’ve never, if they made a commitment to a sport, you had to see it through. And I remember my middle guy, he played hockey all the way through senior year in high school. But after he begged to play, and I think it was his first year, he was a few months in, getting up every Saturday morning at 05:00 a.m.

Dave Turano [00:17:20]:
or Sunday morning at 06:00 a.m. he finally said, dad, I dont think I want to play this anymore. Im like, yeah, no problem. I said, at the end of the year, you can explain that to your coach. And he goes, what do you mean? I said, well, you committed, so youre in for the year. So at the end of the year, just simply go to the coach, bring the team together, and just explain to them that youre quitting and then youll be out. And hes like, I thought you could do it. I thought you could tell him I said, no, no, youre going to tell him.

Dave Turano [00:17:44]:
And twelve years later, he still played. And he played through varsity, but he also, along the way, had great coaches. And it was a hard road. All the way up to varsity was a challenge, but he kept working for it. How does that relate to work? When you think about your path to varsity, your path to your scholarship, it’s not a direct path. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of hard work that needs to go into it, which means you have to be committed not only to getting better, you’ve got to be committed to the people around you, your teammates, your coaches. You’ve got to want to play for them, too.

Kortney Harmon [00:18:16]:
I’m going to start at the opposite end. I’m going to start as leaders. You know, kids quit bad coaches. They don’t quit because they don’t love the sport majority of the time. What I’ve seen over the years, kids quit bad coaches. That doesn’t mean necessarily everyone has to agree with you. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be liked, but you have to be in it for the right reasons. I think that goes with our managers in our organizations, too.

Kortney Harmon [00:18:37]:
People quit managers. People quit leaders. Not necessarily because I hate this job. That’s not really the case. Me personally, I think I was born with, you know, I’ve heard this over and over. It makes me laugh. The how hard can it be, Jane? I mean, my dad. You don’t want to practice, that’s okay.

Kortney Harmon [00:18:54]:
Go ahead and walk home. You don’t necessarily want to do that. Well, you can go tell the coach you’re going to quit well, in college. Oh, well, you don’t want to go to 04:00 a.m. practices. Well, guess what? There’s 21 other girls that are there. They’re walking to practice at 05:00 a.m. to go swim in the pool in 30 degrees.

Kortney Harmon [00:19:09]:
That’s okay. Just go tell them. So I think that built mental adversity for me because there were people counting on me. It was conveyed in that way. And I think we need to. As much as staffing and recruiting is a individual sport, so to say, if you’re running a full desk, they need to understand how they’re playing a bigger part. I look at my organization, I, as much as I’m competitive, I want to figure out how we succeed together, not fail alone, because there’s no excitement in that, right? We need, your celebrations are bigger, your losses are harder. But we have to figure out how to have those conversations.

Kortney Harmon [00:19:45]:
So I think a lot of it plays our leadership. I don’t necessarily know if you know this stat, but I looked at it the other day for women in leadership month. 94% of women leaders that are in executive roles played sports at one point in time.

Dave Turano [00:19:57]:
Did not know that.

Kortney Harmon [00:19:58]:
I didn’t either until a month ago. And I’ve been in this industry, I’m like, oh, I always knew that. But now it makes a lot more sense. So it’s like, how are we building those people up? How are we making sure we have the things, the playbook in place to make people successful and the support and the comfort to be able to try to grow?

Dave Turano [00:20:15]:
Well, you said earlier, and I’ll probably hack the phrase, but you said something about engagement as being the first step and leadership being so critical to this all happening. And if engagement is present with, say, leadership, the salesperson, the recruiter, their odds are better. How often, though, do we have leaders in place that don’t know how to engage with their teams or worse, maybe worse. They don’t know how to engage externally. They don’t know how to engage with their recruiting hat on or with a sales hat on with a candidate or a client. How often do you see that happen, if at all?

Kortney Harmon [00:20:53]:
A lot, actually. Because as I is coaching in this industry, I’m sure like, you, you go in and it’s like, oh, well, this person’s now a manager because they were my top performer. They were amazing. I needed, you know, they needed the promotion, they needed the next step, but I still required them to run their desk. I still required them to do all the things. I didn’t give them adequate manager or leadership training, so they just have another hat to wear, less time to do all those things because now it’s spread even thinner and we want you to be successful. Great news. We’ve not prepared you.

Kortney Harmon [00:21:24]:
So I think it happens a lot because it’s the next step in the progression. But a lot of times, even at my last organization that I was with, they didn’t necessarily have that path out. It was like, okay, you’re a top performer. Okay, great. What does the career path look like here? What metrics do I need to hit? Do I need to get a certification? How is that going to help me? It’s going to help your retention for your people in your organization. If they’re certified, they know their path forward, because otherwise, standard in our industry is two to three years and they’re out. They’re going on to the next thing.

Dave Turano [00:21:52]:
A manager or a recruiter.

Kortney Harmon [00:21:53]:
A recruiter because they don’t necessarily know what their path is to that management. So really just trying to develop how that looks like, how they excel in the organization. So most of the time, again, I’ve seen just managers not do amazing. There are the ones that break through that are great. They truly understand people, but again, their time’s limited. They don’t have a process to follow and they weren’t trained right to begin with.

Dave Turano [00:22:14]:
What’s your take on the hierarchy and the industry? I know the larger the company, the greater need for additional leadership at some level as the teams grow. But are we conditioning the wrong behavior, say, in the staff?

Kortney Harmon [00:22:29]:
I oftentimes, and I don’t know, I think that we don’t necessarily open our eyes to be what else could be there? Example, I was a director of learning and development for a staffing and recruiting organization. Before here I didn’t even know this position existed. But a lot of times we do that in our staffing firms too. Like, oh, I’m really good at recruiting or oh, I’m really like, we expect people to move forward. We expect them, well you’re good at recruiting, you need to be in sales. But do we understand that that’s their, is that their motivator? Do they just want to be an individual contributor? I think a lot of those things play. We think it’s progression, but we don’t really truly find out what’s their driver, what keeps them getting out of bed in the morning because there are times that we just automatically think they need to be pushed through. Well you’re, this is next.

Kortney Harmon [00:23:11]:
But they don’t know what else is out there. They don’t necessarily, well you know what, maybe I wanted to go into HR recruiting, maybe slower. You know, I love this. Maybe I want to do contract because it’s faster. You know, I move faster. But they don’t necessarily know that that’s out there because the lane that they’re in and the organization that they’re in, you don’t necessarily know what’s out there if you don’t have any exposure to it.

Dave Turano [00:23:30]:
What about the vision as a manager, leader, CEO? How effective do they need to be at painting the big picture? This is where we’re going by the way. This is where were going. The reason I asked that question is the industrys become incredibly transactional. Its incredibly data driven. By the way, I love data, I really do, but not at the expense of the big picture. Oftentimes the delivery of the information on we need you to make x amount of calls or we want to see you get x amount of interviews, which by the way is required in order to succeed. That becomes the job instead of why we’re doing. If you want XYZ as a client or you want a pool of candidates with the following skills, it means you have to develop relationships with them if you want that.

Dave Turano [00:24:15]:
So what does it take to develop the relationship? Sometimes it’s the mechanics of the job that are getting in the way of the ability to do the job. What’s your take on that? And does that even make any sense, what I just said?

Kortney Harmon [00:24:28]:
I’m going to interpret it from my speak what I’m thinking that you’re saying. So I think, yes, it makes sense because we look at numbers again, that’s that do more mentality. In reality, we don’t have the managers in place to be able to say, well, you’re not getting the send outs that you need. Let’s reverse engineer it. Let’s understand why you’re not getting the send outs. By the way, there’s a lot of organizations, you know, I’m all about measuring. I’m all about data to keep it focused. You can’t measure 22 things and hold your team to all 22 and expect them to excel or do enjoy their job because they don’t.

Kortney Harmon [00:24:59]:
Frankly, everyone’s like, I hate KPI’s. It’s just big brother. But if we’re watching one, two, or maybe even three examples, send outs or submittals, you can reverse engineer. Well, I’m not getting the send outs I need. Okay. Amazing. How many calls are you having? You’re making the calls. Okay, let’s talk about what you’re saying on those calls because there is a reason you’re not getting to where it needs the goal that you need to have.

Kortney Harmon [00:25:23]:
But we honestly don’t have those managers as consultants to go into our teams to say, hey, let me help you get your send outs. Let me help you get your submittals. Let’s work on your script. Oh, you, they just said they’re not interested and you just hung up. That’s probably why. Let’s talk about resistance and let’s practice responding to resistance. I was never going to be able to throw a rise ball in college if I didn’t figure out the mechanics of my finger, the spin, the placement, those are all the same things, scripts, resistance in our business. So again, those managers are usually busy themselves producing stuff, so they don’t have the time to take to help develop those people on their team.

Kortney Harmon [00:25:59]:
So we just have that mentality to say, well, just go make more calls, you’ll be fine. And in reality, it’s what they’re saying on those calls. They could probably make less calls if they’re more engaging, saying the right thing, understanding the right pain point versus you need to do business with us. We’ve been in business for 30 years. It’s not necessarily a value point anymore.

Dave Turano [00:26:18]:
Yeah. When it becomes about the call or the job description or the candidate skillset, the engagement kind of goes out the window. And if engagement is really the first step, its looking at it from that and say, what would cause this person to disengage with me? If I were to call Kortney, what would I say that would cause her to say, I dont want to talk to you anymore, or hang up the phone, or nows not a good time, or call me in three months. What is it that causes that to happen? And I think thats where it all starts, is lets look at it from the other persons perspective. If you were to receive a call like the one youre thinking youre going to make, what would you do with it? And that’s ultimately the problem because once that recruiter or that salesperson starts to become reluctant, like, I don’t want that feeling anymore, I don’t want that response anymore. Then they pretend to make calls. I used to work with a guy who went on to be a trainer in the space, and every time I see him on LinkedIn, it makes me laugh. But he trains recruiters in the space.

Dave Turano [00:27:13]:
But this guy used to call his own phone number all day long and leave messages. And he used to lead our team in calls and before anyone really knew what was going on, but every week he’d get credited for, made the most calls of all the recruiters. But he was calling his own house, and now he’s kind of a trainer in the business. It makes me, I’m like, you got to be kidding me. But I think what gets in the way is the fear that this other person is going to be annoyed with me or this other person is more important than me, and it’s dealing with that. That’s the first step in the process. And so as you’re talking, I’m thinking that’s really where the management teams can help the recruiting teams, help the sales teams is uncover what causes that disengagement to begin in the first place. What other process driven behaviors should somebody be considering or a manager be instilling in people?

Kortney Harmon [00:28:05]:
I think we often measure our success in this industry based on placements. And yes, that’s what makes us money. I understand that that’s what makes your organization money. But this is just like dating. You can’t get married after your first date. You can’t make a placement after one call. So my favorite thing is that when I trained was close to your next objective. It’s the next step in your process.

Kortney Harmon [00:28:25]:
It’s the next rung on the ladder. Don’t assume that they need the person that you’re pitching. If they do, great, go play the lottery. You probably have really good odds that day, but that’s not how this industry works. You really have to take the time, I guess. I don’t know. I was always told this, but the number one complaint people have about recruiters is they call too frequently in the beginning. They want your time, they get your time.

Kortney Harmon [00:28:46]:
And guess what? After that number two complaint is you never hear from them again because they got what they want. They analyze you or graded you or judged you in their head to say, okay, this is good or bad, but then you never heard from them. So don’t be that person. Don’t be the telemarketer to them but then also close to the next objective. If it’s in BD and you’re focusing on sales, they don’t need. If you’re doing NPC’s or skill marketing, they don’t need your person. It shouldn’t be, oh, you don’t need that person. Okay, great.

Kortney Harmon [00:29:12]:
Have a wonderful day. Well, what do you need? Do we close to the next objective to, say, get a job order or do a site visit? It’s not necessarily you have to place that person today. So I think understanding and training that to your teams is crucial to know that it doesn’t have to be a placement every single time. What is the other things that look like success for us?

Dave Turano [00:29:33]:
There’s two questions that popped into my head. I’ll ask one, I’ll probably forget the other one, but okay, the first one was how often are we conditioning, say, recruiters salespeople to call strangers when they dont have to? You follow what Im saying? Its heres another cold call Im making to somebody else that doesnt know me. Kind of amassing strangers into a database that we never nurture. Wheres the next stranger that were going to let down? Wheres the next person that were going to talk to twice and never call back? Lets keep adding them. I don’t know what I’m asking here.

Kortney Harmon [00:30:07]:
Okay, I agree with you. I think it’s a problem. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t believe in sales calls, but I do think I believe in warm calls. I do personally. Like what I’ve ever taught is a touch plan strategy for multi channels. It’s not just one. It’s not just I’m going to call you one time or I’m going to email you one time or text. I feel like you got to earn the right for that.

Kortney Harmon [00:30:28]:
So I think that’s a little creepy. But LinkedIn, depending on your industry, LinkedIn audio and video is amazing to stand out. But I think those all work hand in hand. You can’t just expect to do one of those consistently five times to be able to get that call to happen. But I think it’s like establishing, getting them to see your name frequently, comment on their LinkedIn post. This is a long play and I think you’re right. Depending on your industry, depending on the need of what you have for warm bodies that you have to fill, I think we do. We condition people to just, just pick up the phone and make more calls or put the stuff in the system.

Kortney Harmon [00:31:01]:
And in reality, yeah, you have to put the stuff in the system. But are you ever going back to that? How many campaigns do you have that are consistently reaching out to them? Are you sending your favorite barbecue recipe for the 4 July? I don’t know, but it doesn’t always have to be. When you need something from them, what value are you providing to them to continue to nurture it?

Dave Turano [00:31:20]:
Which leads to my next question, which I’m not going to forget. So which is how often I ask these questions, how often they’re like, there’s a percentage that you can give me. I don’t mean it that way, but I get it. My belief, I’ll just put it on the table, is that the job descriptions and the resumes get in the way of the relationships. If I’m leading with my jobs to a candidate or I’m leading with my resumes to a client, I’ve immediately made myself a recruiter or a salesperson. Now that’s not to say I can’t talk about that stuff, but to your point earlier, if there’s no interest in what it was that you thought you were going to present, oh, here’s a candidate I want to show you, or here’s a job description I want to show you. The conversation can die. So how can we be teaching our recruiters and our salespeople to talk about more than that? You follow what I’m saying? Are those things limiting the relationship?

Kortney Harmon [00:32:09]:
Yes. The answer is yes. It’s limiting. I. In my training days, we actually have an ebook from one of our podcasts. I forget which one it is. I say it’s my oh, shit list of questions, like, oh, shit, they’re not talking to me. Oh, what do I ask? Quit going transactional.

Kortney Harmon [00:32:25]:
What are the goals that you want to accomplish? Do you understand? Like, oftentimes we know that we talk to a hiring manager in business development. Do we know what metrics they’re measured by? Do we know what success looks like to them? Do we know what they want out of this? Or what the true pain point and challenge they have? Because guess what? Hr probably wrote their job description, and they’re just presenting it back to us to say, hey, we need this person because they made my life easier. But in reality, we’re not truly understanding how they’re measured, what they want, what they need beyond the job description. Candidates, same thing. I’ve always taught something called the clamps model. Challenge, location advancement, money, people, security. And it’s really like, those are your motivators. What’s going to motivate you out of those six? Money’s obviously a motivator for everybody.

Kortney Harmon [00:33:09]:
But what’s the next thing? What do you want out of your next opportunity? What does the perfect picture look like? So when I can find that opportunity, I can explain, well, this is who you’ll become if you take this job. It’s beyond the selling. It’s painting that picture, because we get further with stories and examples than we do with bullet points.

Dave Turano [00:33:27]:
Robert, do you think that the average staffing company spends too much time trying to figure out what the other staffing companies are doing?

Kortney Harmon [00:33:35]:
I don’t know. That’s a really good question. A lot of the ones that I’ve worked with, they pay attention, but they don’t look at the recipe. They don’t know how they’re getting to that well. They just, they know they want to be them. But you know why they’re them. So I don’t necessarily know. There’s always comparisons.

Kortney Harmon [00:33:50]:
There’s comparisons in our own office. Why want to be like Bobby? Bobby’s, you know, billing, XYz? I want that paycheck. We always compare ourselves, but I don’t think people honestly take a good internal reflection to how they make their own recipe better. So what do you think?

Dave Turano [00:34:06]:
Well, I think that if I think about the staffing company, I don’t know how many I’ve worked with over the years. It’s been a ton. And even going to the event. I met you at the MSA event. There’s a lot of note comparing about what are you seeing? What are you seeing? Or what do you. As if the other company has the secret. And I think my personal opinion is there’s way too much comparison. There are many assumptions made about why this company’s great or why this company sucks.

Dave Turano [00:34:32]:
But the reality is, if you peel back the onion and you may or may not agree with me, but if I go into like a giant company or a small company, generally speaking, those companies are built around a few clients or a few key individuals. And if you just remove that client or these two clients, this company is non existent. Or if those two salespeople are that recruiter lead, there’s really nothing left underneath that. So no matter what the revenue or gross profit is, that’s at the mercy of just a couple of client examples or sales or recruiting examples. And they’re more fragile than we realize. They’re great companies, though, and there are some of them. They’ve got a massively diverse portfolio, and they’ve got multiple people that are performing across the board. But those are, in my opinion, in my experience, those are the exceptions.

Dave Turano [00:35:21]:
That’s my take on it.

Kortney Harmon [00:35:23]:
I agree. And I think a lot of the comparing is a validation in their own mind. Am I going through this alone? But you’re right. I think we’re all in search of the easy button. And I think it’s just to be like, well, what are you doing differently? And it’s internally a true reflection of what do we need to change versus, well, what is everybody else doing? Because we’re shiny object syndrome right now.

Dave Turano [00:35:43]:
What else would you say is important in terms of developing a process or some sort of standardized foundation?

Kortney Harmon [00:35:49]:
I think it comes down to value. What kind of value are you providing? Would you want to talk to you, you mentioned that just in the initial kickoff, but really, like, what would make them want to work with you consistently versus someone else? Are you going beyond just, you need a guy. I got a guy. Are you talking to them about boardroom presentations or statistics in the industry or upcoming conferences or asking how their kids soccer game went? Whatever that looks like. But it’s value. Consistent value. Not just one time, because I thought of something this one time, but it’s consistent. So I think the industry varies.

Kortney Harmon [00:36:24]:
And what we think value is, like I said before, some people are like, we’ve been in business for 30 years, but is that a value to them? Yeah, they know that you’ve been there. But a lot of mom and pop firms have been. That doesn’t mean they’re the right people to work with. So understanding and giving actual case studies and examples and how we can help you specifically, it goes beyond, it shows your value versus telling someone their value.

Dave Turano [00:36:48]:
And where would you say the average company loses credibility or value in the eyes of a candidate or a client?

Kortney Harmon [00:36:55]:
Never going deeper than surface level. Oftentimes we’re just so transactional. We never want to get into the nitty gritty. We don’t want to. Whether it’s you’ve had a relationship with a key account for years and that’s one of your examples, it’s one of your key eggs in your basket. Right? But do you ever talk about how they are financially, how you can help them? Are you an avenue beyond just staffing and recruiting? Can you give them hr help or additional help or insights? I think we have to look just beyond the one or two things that we play a part in to be a collaborative partner versus just a conversational.

Dave Turano [00:37:29]:
What about giving? Just generally speaking, would you say that most recruiters and salespeople in the space are out giving or are they taking?

Kortney Harmon [00:37:37]:
They’re taking honestly, even some of the most successful firms that I see, they’re having discussions with someone they placed before may have been executive level, but now they’re giving insights to their kid that just got out of college. They’re not going to get any return on that. That’s not who they place. But they’re taking the time to give back. They’re taking the time, a ten minute, 15 minutes conversation that is shaping the industry, future of the industry versus, well, call me when you need me. Call me if you’re looking to change a job. But no, I don’t see that consistently. I don’t see giving back.

Kortney Harmon [00:38:08]:
I don’t see much giving at all. Jeff?

Dave Turano [00:38:11]:
Yeah, I don’t either. I really don’t. And it frustrates the hell out of me. I have no idea why. That’s not part of the initial foundation as we’re teaching people. Its one of the things I talk about. I did a talk in Boston over the weekend. It was awesome.

Dave Turano [00:38:24]:
Totally different industry though. But that was one of the takeaways for the crowd was learn to give. If people arent answering your calls or people arent calling you back after the first conversation or whatever, they want to talk to you. Two, three months out, my guess is you havent brought enough value even if its in the first call. Did you lead with giving an idea, making an introduction for somebody just thinking of them. The other thing I wanted to bring up, and I want to be respectful of your time here, but you have a podcast. We’re doing this. I have a podcast as well.

Dave Turano [00:38:54]:
It’s not a moneymaker, so I’m not going to pretend it is. It’s a hobby for me. It’s a way for me to get out my pent up energy and to talk to interesting people and then hopefully put out content that’s helpful.

Kortney Harmon [00:39:04]:
I love it.

Dave Turano [00:39:05]:
There’s something very powerful about just being able to put something like this out there. It helps people know who you are. It helps people know who I am. They can decide, I don’t like this guy, that’s fine. But it’s another angle to help people develop familiarity or comfort. What have you observed in that regard with your business?

Kortney Harmon [00:39:24]:
I agree. I create, again software company. They actually, their name is based on create relationships. So create. So I like to say that it’s about giving back to us in the form of content. Right. There are so many people that pay big money for consultants to say, come in and measure me, validate me, grade me, give me your feedback. And in reality, my goal is just to create a community safe enough to ask questions, whether it’s inside my organization, if I have multiple people come or someone outside, just to give me a different perspective.

Kortney Harmon [00:39:55]:
That critique on your no hitter, same thing here. Like, oh, give me an idea. Oh, you actually, you brought that up. That’s a great idea. We actually had someone from our podcast come. They’re in a different sector. They don’t necessarily do redeployment. I did a training, just a podcast.

Kortney Harmon [00:40:11]:
We do workshops, so we do them live. You can come ask questions. There’s an ask me anything at the end of every session. And she’s like, I came. I don’t necessarily know what redeployment is. We do direct hire, we do executive search. That’s not really our game. It’s not really our jam.

Kortney Harmon [00:40:25]:
But I thought up a new business proposal to take to our executive team because I thought about our business in a different way. That’s the stuff that excites me. Just because if I can give one, one spray crazy little hair that they can take to say there’s a different line of revenue, or, hey, we could do this differently, or, hey, I haven’t thought about this. That’s what I’m here for. And I’m just, it’s hard. It’s hard whenever there’s content at your fingertips. So it’s really just trying to, again, provide value to our industry and help them stand out and be different.

Dave Turano [00:40:55]:
Where’s the opportunity for the staffing industry to take advantage of more tools other than automated messaging, other than picking up the phone, other than posting jobs on LinkedIn? How can the industry do a better job leveraging the tools available to be visible, even if it’s not face to face? If you can’t get face to face, there are things like this you can do. Are they doing enough of that? And if not, what can they be doing that they’re not doing?

Kortney Harmon [00:41:21]:
I don’t think there’s one answer for that. I really think it’s just trying to listen to different things, whether it’s going to a webinar, going to a conference, seeing what else is out there. I live in a very small town in the middle of a cornfield, and I got to the point I was like, there’s a whole world out here. But the same thing goes in our own industry. We’re sometimes so confined to our walls and just go out and explore. I was always told by all of my coaches if I could just pick up one thing from a coach, I didn’t have to alter everything that they were saying, everything that they were doing. But if I just took one golden nugget every time I talk to somebody, I was going to be better off for it. And I think that’s the same thing with business.

Kortney Harmon [00:42:00]:
Learn. Expose yourself to different things, whether you think it’s a fit or not, and just try to consume more things to understand how you can apply it to your own process, your own operations, your own business, your own desk.

Dave Turano [00:42:12]:
All right, so comment on this and then I’ll let you take us home. When it comes to developing a process, any kind, you have to learn something, right? So that’s you’re saying just come up with one idea and then apply it. What does the application of that look like in reality? Say, as a recruiter, an example of that, or as a salesperson, what is the application of an idea and a commitment to doing that actually look like in reality?

Kortney Harmon [00:42:39]:
Well, it comes down to muscle memory, right? As a sports, you have to go do 500 swings before it becomes something that you don’t have to think about any longer. So I would encourage you, allow time, as long as you’re doing it consistently, to be able to see results, plan for it, whatever that process is. I’m a big fan of planning my day the night before, before I come into let my, you know, we’re in a world of fires, so let’s try to control those fires to some extent, but do it consistently. Minimum of 90 days. That is kind of my golden rule before you’re going to be able to see results. And if you don’t, you have to first assess yourself. Did I do it consistently? Great. Did it work for me? Yes or no.

Kortney Harmon [00:43:20]:
And then adjust from there. But don’t sell yourself short. Create it a part of your everyday. Whether it’s a new routine, if it’s a new sourcing tool, plan for it. I don’t know about you. If it’s not on my calendar, I didn’t do it. So make sure that you’re putting it a part of your everyday before you can validate if it’s good or not.

Dave Turano [00:43:37]:
Excellent. What haven’t I asked you? What do you want to bring us home with? You can finish us up.

Kortney Harmon [00:43:41]:
Kortney, you know, I don’t really have a whole lot. I mean, we kind of covered a lot here today, but I think whenever it comes to us learning our industry, understanding if we’re doing good or not, we have to really figure out the root cause of everything we’re doing. So it’s not necessarily, well, I’m not getting the calls or I’m not getting the placements or whatever. Figure out the root cause behind the whole thing that you’re doing before you can validate to figure out how to fix it. Because the root cause will definitely shine a light on maybe some shadow processes that are happening outside your system that you didn’t know about or some lack of engagement that you have, your people have across your organization. But look at the root cause. Take the time and know what’s important. I know this industry is fast.

Kortney Harmon [00:44:26]:
I know it kind of moves. We’re in the reactive versus proactive. Make engagement matter in 24 because it’s going to set you up for success and foundational scale in 25.

Dave Turano [00:44:37]:
All right, so two more things and I’ll shut up. One is if I own a staffing company, what am I thinking about? Dwelling about? Frustrated about that would cause me to say your company is the place I should call. Like what’s going on in my head where I would say, oh, you know what, crelate, I should give them a call. They can help with this. What would I be thinking?

Kortney Harmon [00:44:58]:
You know, there’s a lot of times that our teams are frustrated at the lack of ease of use of your systems because us as business owners and operations, the value of our business comes to the data that we have. And if anything’s difficult, if there’s dual entry, if your systems don’t talk or it’s not easy to use, your people aren’t going to do it. So if you ever get to the point that you’re frustrated with your teams not entering data, it’s too difficult. You’re not getting the reports, the real time analytics of what your team’s doing. It’s kind of what we pride ourselves in. We have open API, our systems talk. You no longer have those siloed tech stacks and you can get real time reporting to give you a holistic view of your business. It’s really going to help you as an operations person.

Kortney Harmon [00:45:40]:
Our system’s pretty easy to use. It’s one of my favorite things. Helps with training, helps with downtime, all the things. So if you ever get to the point, you’re like, hey, I need to see what else is out there, definitely give us a call.

Dave Turano [00:45:51]:
Okay. And one more question. The podcast, what kind of people listen? Is it all staffing people?

Kortney Harmon [00:45:56]:
Staffing, recruiting? Yes. So whether you’re running a desk, you’re a manager, you have operations, we kind of have a little bit for everything. So we have workshops that are live. You can come ask questions. We do a drop every Thursday, so you can listen on any platform that you’d like to listen to. But yeah, it’s not necessarily we do actually even go outside of that. My old college coach was on about mental performance and overall performance in our industry. So we kind of talk about everything.

Dave Turano [00:46:23]:
And it’s nice. It’s a sharp production, much sharper than mine. I listened to it this morning. Like, that’s well done. Very, very good.

Kortney Harmon [00:46:28]:
Oh, thank you so much. We appreciate it. We’ve been doing it for about a year and a half now. We’re so excited.

Dave Turano [00:46:32]:
It’s good. It’s really good. So I appreciate you putting it on. I appreciate you coming on with me today. And Kortney Harmon, if anyone wants to reach you, LinkedIn, I guess, is that probably the best way for them to get you?

Kortney Harmon [00:46:41]:
LinkedIn’s the place to be. I can send you my LinkedIn profile if you want to put it in the show notes.

Dave Turano [00:46:45]:
It’ll all be there. Hey, thank you for your time.

Kortney Harmon [00:46:47]:
Thank you very much for having me. I greatly appreciate it.

Dave Turano [00:46:49]:
You’re welcome. Talk to you soon.

Kortney Harmon [00:46:50]:
Ok. I’m Kortney Harmon with Crelate. Thanks for joining the full desk experience. Please feel free to submit any questions for next session to fulldeskrilate.com or ask us live next session. If you enjoyed our show, be sure to subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen and sign up to attend future events that happen once a month.

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