When Alan P. Shor co-founded The Retail Connection LP in 2004 with Steve Lieberman, they had six employees and one too-large office. But within just a few years, the company has filled that space, growing to about 70 people and three offices today.
One of the keys to building a strong organization has been making sure he gets the right people into the real estate services and investment firm.
Smart Business spoke with Shor, who serves as co-chairman and president, about how to successfully grow an open organization by bringing in the right people.
What have been the keys to your success?
There are just a handful of basic keys to good, strong, successful leadership. One is building the right culture in your organization. Before you can do that, you have to be clear in your own mind of what you want to do and how you want to do it, and then you have to communicate that in a clear way. If you have a plan and a way to achieve that plan and you communicate it right, then you start building your team, and that’s where the cultural part comes in.
First and foremost, it’s hiring the right people. Once you get the right people in the door, then it’s making sure they understand what our goals and objectives are.
How do you hire the right people?
We try to combine experience with entry-level. We look for people who are smart and entrepreneurial and want to work hard and become students of the business. You can accomplish that by hiring experienced people based on what they’ve done, and you can accomplish that by hopefully putting people through a good interview process, particularly the entry-level program.
We have an analysts program where we hire kids out of school that want to have a career in what we do. Then we put them in a six- to eight-month program where we move them around the company to different parts and they see how we interact and work with different teams and see different aspects of the business. At the end of that time, we make an assessment of whether they’re ready to become a full-time employee. Our success rate has been really strong. We have a good feeling going into the hiring. Then we have a much better read coming out of the analyst program as to who can make it and who can’t.
What tips can you provide for making better hires?
Make sure you have a pretty good understanding of what you’re looking for, have a specific job description, and you want to make sure that you articulate the type of person you’re looking to hire and then be very diligent in the hiring process.
The people we bring in will see multiple people here — it could be upwards of six or eight people from different parts of the business — and then we talk about how that interview went. Then we give them an aptitude test. It’s a 20-minute test that really will give us some guidance. It’s not the barometer, but it’s one of the factors. We look at it as to how they’ll be in our business.
Be diligent about it. Call references. Make sure enough people spend time with that person, because you’re making a decision that not only impacts your company but, more importantly, is impacting the life of somebody.
How can you get beyond the interview front to know who people really are?
If they’re in Dallas, it’s easier because we try to get our people together as much as possible. One of the things we do a lot of is we get our guys together and have a basketball game. We invite our recruits to play, and when you get them in a setting like that, where it’s very much a social and competitive atmosphere, you can learn a lot that you can’t learn in an interview.
How to reach: The Retail Connection LP, (214) 572-0777 or www.theretailconnection.net