Talent scout

Half the game is won when
you choose your team,
says Mark McGough.
When he came on as president
and CEO of Pentadyne Power
Corp. in May 2006, the struggling power systems manufacturer was in desperate need of a
few star players.

To find them, McGough first
looked for underused talent
within the company. He then let
his staff vet external prospects
through a series of interviews.

“If the candidate is confident
enough in their abilities, they’ll
welcome the chance to meet
those people,” he says. “In the
process, I also got the buy-in of
the people that were interviewing the new candidate, even
though some of them would
have liked to have that job.”

Pentadyne now features an
all-star lineup of 70 high-energy
employees who have led the
company from 2006 revenue of
$4.2 million to 2007 revenue of
$9.8 million.

Smart Business spoke with
McGough about how to pick
the best players when choosing
your team.

Q. How do you find a great
team?

I can remember back in the
’80s, you got leaders (who)
come in and essentially devastate a management organization
in favor of their own insiders.

In a turnaround situation,
there’re always (members) of
the existing staff that are kind of
diamonds in the rough. Maybe
they’re in the wrong position.
Maybe they just need the right
coaching.

When you choose your team,
it’s very important that you find
people within the existing organization and provide leadership opportunities for those
folks.

That sends out an important
message to the rest of the staff
that this isn’t going to be a private circle of the old colleagues
that the new CEO brings in to
run the business.

Q. How do you find those
diamonds in the rough?

Do this just the same way as if
they were external people.
Interview them. Look at the
resume talent. It’s truly no
different than recruiting
externally because
they’re new to you, and
they’ve got talent to offer.

I don’t pay attention to
exactly where they are on
the organizational chart.
It’s not something that
you need to look just one
layer down. Sometimes,
you need to look two and
three layers down in the
organization to find that
underutilized talent that
can be a key part of your
business going forward.

When you do that, and
you’re successful, every
person gets the message
that if they perform, no
matter where they’re at in
the organization, there’s a great
career opportunity for them
through your leadership.

Q. Did you actually interview
existing employees to see how
and where they will fit within
the company?

You have to screen to some
extent with your gut because
there’s not enough time in a
day to go through a highly
methodical process to figure
out who you want to take a
closer look at.

There’s a lot you can learn by
talking to the staff. There’s no
substitute for one-on-one
lunches, private conversations
and just getting a sense of who
the leaders are within the
organization.

You can be in a group setting
and find that the folks who contribute the most are the leaders
in the organization. You might
be startled at what their management role is in the organization.

Sometimes, the best leaders
are two or three layers down
the organization. Those are kind of the rising stars that I
look to identify. They’ve got
the high energy; they’re decisive. He or she’s got a commanding presence with the rest of the organization or
parts of the organization.

When it seems like those
things are true, that’s when I
take a closer look. I usually
come up with 10 or 12 people
that I want to take a closer look
at within the organization and
pull from that the next generation of leaders for the business.

Q. How do you gauge chemistry with your rising stars?

Look inside yourself. When
you’re finished with an interaction with that person, whether
it’s a one-on-one meeting or you
went to lunch together or you
just had a hallway conversation,
ask yourself after that’s over, did
you enjoy that? Are you looking
forward to the next time you’re
interacting with that person?

I don’t believe in elaborate
testing and personality profiles.
I’ve gone though the MMPI
[Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory] thing and
done the personality tests, but I
don’t think you can map out a
personality so precisely.

You really have to go with that
sense that you get after a few
interactions with those people.
Is that someone you’re going to
enjoy working with? If you’ve
got strong reservations, that’s
probably a yellow flag.

Q. What is the benefit of
focusing on this chemistry?

It’s all measured in results.
You get that established, you
get a great team in place, and
if you’ve chosen them with the
right skill sets, they’re going to
do a great job producing
results for the shareholders
and board members that we’re
all working for.

HOW TO REACH: Pentadyne Power Corp., (818) 350-0370 or www.pentadyne.com

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