Rainmakers - Who are they? Where are they? How do I recruit, and hire them?

Rainmakers - Who are they? Where are they? How do I recruit, and hire them?

By Russ Mountain, President & CEO, Rowland Mountain & Associates

Who are they?

Rainmakers are the real difference makers for any business. They have an early and ongoing impact that produces sustainable results long after they are gone. They raise the bar and set the company records and high standards that keep the entire organization reaching and challenged.

They bring in and drive the highest revenues, acquire more new customers and sell the most products and services.

They build and maintain the stronger, lasting relationships that maximize repeat business and drastically increase customer loyalty.

They lead by example and exude the personal and professional character that others are willing to follow to achieve the highest goals.

They have a historical successful track record that is easily verifiable and quantifiable. They know what they did and how. They can speak specifically to the impact and results. Their background is filled with specific examples of multi instances and situations where they reached specific high goals that they set, or accepted the responsibility for that required thoughtful planning, utilization of all available resources, massive effort, overcoming obstacles, rebounding from mistakes, and making few of them.

These repeated successful results, in varying scenarios, provide clear evidence of a pattern of over achievement and transferable skills and competencies that are always found in Rainmakers.

They have the highest personal and professional integrity and values that others who’ve known them will be able to speak to and give examples of. That’s who they are and it’s also why and how they’ve made rain and made it pour consistently over time.

Former GE C.E.O., Jack Welch, implemented the best practice of forced ranking all GE employees in every one of their businesses utilizing their 9 block assessment on an annual basis. The highest ranking a person could receive was A1 (high performance, high potential). Those were GE’s “Rainmakers”.

In his book titled “Winning”, Mr. Welch said Rainmakers first have integrity, intelligence and maturity beyond their peers. They have energy and can energize others. They also have the edge it takes to make tough decisions and they can execute and get things done. He mentions passion is also a common denominator. He writes about four additional characteristics; authenticity; ability to see around corners i.e. vision; ability to surround themselves with people better and smarter than they are; finally heavy-duty resilience.

Mr. Welch still attributes the unprecedented success GE had under his 20 years of leadership to their relentless pursuit and commitment to hiring, developing, and retaining Rainmakers. To make and maintain room for them ongoing in their businesses, GE embraced the concept of Topgrading.

Topgrading is culling / eliminating the bottom 10% of their rankings annually and replacing them with those they evaluated to be Rainmakers in their area of expertise. The impact and result over 20 years is extraordinary. $450 BILLION increase in market cap establishing him as the most admired business leader in the world and some would still argue in all of corporate history. Now that’s a sure enough Rainmaker!

Greg Alexander, of EMC Corporation, was promoted to Area Vice President of Sales in late 2000 just as the tech boom was beginning to crash. He had no sales management experience at all. He inherited an area ranked 13th out of 15.

Greg read the book “Topgrading”, by Dr. Brad Smart, after seeing a review in an in-flight magazine article soon after his promotion. He spent $15,000 of his own money to enlist the help of Smart and Associates because the multi billion dollar corporate giant, EMC, whose stock price and sales were plummeting, offered no reimbursement. (Rainmakers are very resourceful and will find a way to get it done.)

Within 3 quarters Greg’s area leapt from 13 to number 1. Over a two year period his total revenues grew 140% while company wide revenues shrank 40% during the same period from $9 billion to just $5.4 billion. The stock dropped from $104 to $3.87. EMC laid off 1000 employees during that time but Greg was able to hire and save a lot of jobs by cleaning out the C players and relentlessly pursuing the Rainmakers.

Where are they?

It’s all relative to the industry. They are in every industry somewhere; most likely in the companies where the greatest opportunity to learn, lead and earn exist. They are too smart; too driven to succeed, and too much in demand to just exist somewhere.

They are good decision makers and leaders therefore they will be in companies that also lead their industry and markets or are poised to do so. They are well known and respected and not that hard to find. Just ask around “Who’s THE BEST” and you’ll hear their name repeatedly.

They all started early somewhere on school campuses making rain in some form or fashion. Whether its athletics, grades, leadership roles, or self funding their education, the evidence of the rain is there as far back as you can see. That’s where the pattern of behavior starts.

They could still be in school leading and learning and still earning their way through; most likely the better schools pursuing the most marketable business or technical degree that offer the best options for their career plan. Even though plans do change, they definitely always have a plan, no matter where they are. Therefore, they will only remain in companies where a good strategy and plans exist. They will surely notice the absence of them and grow restless.

Rainmakers are leaders and yet they also run in packs. Birds of a feather do indeed flock together. King Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” Rainmakers are also very wise and surround themselves with other highly successful people they can learn from and model. They build strong relationships with equals, mentors and coaches and seek out champions for their outcomes with in their own company and externally in existing or prospect customers.

Mr. Welch adds in his book that “Luckily, great people are everywhere. You just have to know how to pick them.”

How do I connect with Rainmakers?

Dr. Smart, author of the best selling book “Topgrading”, recommends finding a good recruiting firm first, although he admits that’s not always easy to do. Word of mouth references are best, he suggests.

There are national and state associations of professional recruiters that have web sites that can be searched by specialty, industry and locations. These associations offer training, certification designations and clearly define code of professional ethics that speak to added value possibilities for the hiring companies and job seekers. The National Association of Personnel Services web site is www.recruitinglife.com; and the Georgia Association of Personnel Services is www.jobconnection.com.

How do I recruit and hire Rainmakers?

“Hiring good people is hard. Hiring great people (Rainmakers) is brutally hard. And yet nothing matters more in winning than getting the right people on the field. All the clever strategies and advanced technologies in the world are nowhere near as effective without great people to put them to work.” Jack Welch.

Dr. Smart says you have to be disciplined from the very beginning and start at the top. You may have as much as 100 hours in each search. “That’s the price to play. You have to put a ton of time and energy into getting those first A Players (Rainmakers) who then attract others.”

Dr. Smart declares that a 90% or better success rate in hiring is achievable.

It takes time and money in people, assessment tools, clearly defined processes, and external resources to generate the applicant flow and have an effective interview and selection process.

Someone once said the best way to end right is to start right. Using a reputable professional recruiter you can trust raises the caliber of your selection pool. A rising tide raises all ships. How do you pick the best of the best?

Aim at nothing and you hit it every time. You have to identify your target. You have to know what you want and be able to recognize it when you see and hear it. In today’s highly competitive market for talent, and with the shrinking talent pool, you must be prepared to act promptly in making hiring decisions or you’ll get beat by those who will.

The US Department of Labor Bureau statistics forecast by the year 2010 due to 70 million retiring baby boomers there will be approximately 10 million more skilled white collar jobs than qualified workers in the 35 to 45 year old demographic in this country. That is according to the book entitled “Impending Crisis: To Many Jobs Too Few People” written by Roger Herman, Tom Olivo and Joyce Gioa.

Having a detailed and very specific job description including the job responsibilities and expectations with education, experience, hard and soft skill requirements in must haves, to nice to haves, is a good start also. This enables you to further identify the core competencies and characteristics needed in doing the job well. This will enable you to determine the exact questions you need to ask to uncover hard evidence in the applicants’ background that fits the job and the environment, which would enable growing / progressing in the company. Mr. Welch’s rule of thumb was to not hire someone into his or her last job, unless it’s to be head of a function or CEO.

Dr. Smart says your most powerful hiring tool is the CIDS Interview Guide. Chronological In-Depth Structured Interview Guide he provides in his book Topgrading.

Mr. Welch writes in “Winning” the most important question you can ask in an interview is to probe around the reasons for leaving their two most recent jobs. “Keep digging and dig deep” he writes. “The key is: Listen closely. Get in the candidate’s skin. Why a person has left a job or jobs tells you more about them than almost any other piece of data.”

Ok. You’ve got your Rainmaker clearly identified. Now how do you also get them to join your team? Everything you’ve done up to this point has helped considerably IF you’ve done it right.

A good recruiter is helping every step of the way with: candid timely feedback;  managing expectations of the process on both sides; selling the opportunities and career growth in your job and company.  They should: be in the head and heart of the candidate; be able to help you in understanding your competition; give you the critical information you need to help you sell/recruit the candidate on coming aboard your team.

Your thorough, well planned and organized process has impressed them. But most importantly, so have the people you have had them meet with. They should be your brightest and best. Rainmakers want to be where other Rainmakers are. They know they can’t do it all by themselves.

You’ve made a tremendous amount of TRUST deposits into the relationship foundation and the candidates emotional \ psychological TRUST account as described by Steven Covey in “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. .. HOW?… By doing exactly what you have said you would do and when you said you would do it. You’ve not missed a single communication commitment.  The same goes for the recruiter.  You both have built very solid trust with the candidate by taking seriously your commitment to maintaining the integrity of your spoken words to them.  Sure things do occur that require changes in plans and schedules etc.  When that happens, the UTMOST care and consideration of timely communication is VITAL to minimizing the withdrawl amount of trust currency.

If things haven’t gone precisely as stated, and you’ve not taken the necessary steps in timely communications, you are in a VERY WEAK and uncertain position to draw the best of the best. Your trust account may be overdrawn.  Rainmakers are very observant of people’s actions and words, watching very carefully what you do compared to what you say. Creating any doubt or uncertainties is deadly to hiring Rainmakers. Get it right and as near flawless as you can. Clear communication and properly managing expectations in the process are paramount. You want as much trust in the relationship bank account when it counts most so you can write the check that gains and secures the offer acceptance and minimizes risks of losing the candidate to a counter offer.

Let’s talk about the offer. A good recruiter will know what will be accepted by the candidate. Ask your recruiter what it will take. Get your monies worth for the fees you are paying to the recruiter. I recommend you let the recruiter extend the offer; get a verbal acceptance from the candidate to be followed up by a written formal offer letter for the candidates signature of acceptance.

It’s best to NOT let an offer go out to a candidate without having the recruiter test / pre-close the offer with the candidate. Any good recruiter will be doing this anyway early and often to uncover any potential deal killers as soon as possible. Emotions, anticipations, and anxiousness are at their highest point in the process for companies and candidates. A good recruiter will maintain the calm, and in doing so, he or she can also create a small guarantee/buffer for acceptance by leaving off the whip cream and cherry on the actual offer. It’s a bonus close strategy that is very effective when the candidates offer expectations are exceeded.

CONGRATULATIONS!!  It’s time to celebrate the 90% odds you’ve just hired your next RAINMAKER!

Russ Mountain, C.P.C.
President and CEO
Rowland Mountain and Associates, Inc.