‘Xsell’ing at the top

Colleen Haviland attributes her success at
Xsell Resources Inc. to her background in human

She says that experience
has taught her how to relate
to people at all levels of her
company, from top to bottom.

“I think I’ve been successful
because I’ve been there; I’ve
done that,” says Haviland,
founder and president of
Xsell Resources Inc., an IT
recruiting firm. “I’ve worked
my way up. I’ve touched on
all different aspects within a
business, so I think I can
relate to the group.”

Haviland grew her company
1,545.2 percent between 2003
and 2006.

Smart Business spoke
with Haviland about how to
relate to your employees and
how to help someone who
isn’t meeting their goals.

Q. How do you work with
someone who isn’t living up to
his or her potential?

We try to give them some
time to adjust. We probably
know within the first three
months that this might not
be working out. We try to
guide them. We try to tell
them, ‘This is what you need
to do. This will make you
successful. Believe me, I’ve
done this. This is what I’ve
done for years. This will
make you successful.’

Now, whether they choose
to listen, or they want to
reinvent the wheel — unfortunately, you guide them as
much as you can, and when
they refuse to listen and take
your advice and they’re not succeeding in their way, you
just unfortunately have to
realize it’s not for them.

Q. What advice would you
give a leader to better relate
to employees?

I think who we are in work
is not who we really are in
the real world. If you relate
to people like, ‘Listen, I’m a
mom, I’m a wife,’ if you
relate to them on an outside-of-work level, you can relate
to them on an inside work
level, as well.

If you come to me —
it’s just a job, and if
you do your job — you
don’t hire anyone to
fire them.

Being in the staffing
business, we know
how hard it is to find
good candidates and
good employees. So, if
you find the good
employee, make sure
they are happy.

Q. How do you
establish a culture
where employees can
come to you if they are
having trouble?

I would hate to lose
an employee because
they didn’t feel comfortable coming to me, so I
let them know that day one
— ‘I want you to come to
me, and if you don’t feel
comfortable coming to me,
go to a peer, and then have
them come to me if you need
a buffer.’

That’s worked well for us.
Some people might not think
that is realistic. But, we try
to take care of problems as
soon as they happen or we
can see them happening. I’ll call people in and say, ‘Shut
the door; let’s talk about it. Is
something wrong?’ It’s very
open communication.

Q. What can a leader do to
retain employees?

You have to realize that
their outside life is more
important than their work
life. Everybody works to
have a nice life outside of

We all work hard, but, at
the same time, we have a lot of working moms here; we
have a lot of people that run
off to see a sporting event,
or they’re gone to go see
their kid in a play, or they
have to go meet the teacher.

In most of the companies
I’ve worked for prior to
forming Xsell Resources, it
was probably the hardest
part in making those decisions of whether I can leave,
should I ask to leave early
today and it’s going to be a
problem and it’s reflected
poorly on me as an employee. So we try not to make
that issue.

When you are here, you
work, and if you need to
have some flexibility, we
want you to be able to have
that flexibility.

Q. How do you deal with

If you get hung up on, ‘Oh
my gosh, I messed up, I can’t
do this job, I stink, blah blah
blah,’ then you are going to
feel that way the next day.

You don’t have to make
people feel horrible about
themselves. You just have to
say, if it’s obviously a persistent problem that goes on
with a certain individual,
‘This might not be the business for you.’

But, when a big deal falls
apart at the eleventh hour,
what are you going to do?
You just look for the next

HOW TO REACH: Xsell Resources Inc., (215) 706-4500 or www.xsellresources.com