Stefanie Couch, regional millwork marketing manager at Boise Cascade, was selected as a ProSales Four Under 40 member, this year, for her roles in sales, marketing, and customer support at Boise Cascade. (See Couch’s Four Under 40 write-up here.) She played an integral role during the past eight years in growing the millwork division in Atlanta for Boise Cascade from $4 million to $42 million in annual sales in 2019. Couch also created a formalized program for new hires in the millwork division. Her varied professional experiences, successes, and involvement in employee recruitment give her a unique perspective on hiring best practices for different roles within the company. So, she joined Vincent Salandro, assistant editor at ProSales magazine, on stage at the 2020 ProSales 100 Conference in Arlington, Texas, to talk about a common hiring mistake and best hiring practices.
Vincent Salandro: What, in your experience, is the biggest mistake that hiring managers make when evaluating job candidates?
Stefanie Couch: We have a wide breadth of things we need to fill in a candidate and somethings we get really focused on checking boxes. Has this person done this job before? If they’re in sales, can they bring this big book of business with them? Things like that that are really tactical areas that we seem to focus on and sometimes we miss things like culture fit, innovation, and diversity of thought is a big one. So, when we ignore those things and we focus on just making sure we fill the role in that descriptor of what we put on our website as what we’re looking for, that we can be really shortsighted. It may work as a great fit to come right in the first day and say, “This person knows lumber,” or “This person knows Therma-Tru doors. They know every code.” But at the end of the day, in five to 10 years, are they really going to help us get to where we’re trying to go, or are they just going to be somebody that does a lot of hard numbers and is good at their job, but doesn’t fit our culture and doesn’t fit what we’re trying to do?
Salandro: Conversely, when you’re tasked with hiring top talent, what have your experiences taught you to look for when you’re evaluating candidates?
Couch: One thing that we’ve done at Boise, and it was actually part of my hiring process that I really like, is we talk to people one-on-one with whoever the hiring manager is, but then also bring the team that they’ll be working with directly with into the fold and let them talk to that person and ask any question they want—their favorite color, what they like to do on the weekends, however they want to go forward with that questioning. They can talk to them about those things and see if they feel like they would be a fit. Are they a team member that they want to sit in a cubicle next to for the next eight to 12 hours and be their partner in what we’re trying to do?
So, we have a system that seems to be working on a lot of fronts with that, because then people have buy-in. So, if you interview someone and [your team isn’t] a part of it at all and you just bring them in and say, “Hey, this is Vince and this is your guy and I hope you like him.” Maybe they like him and it’s a great fit, but maybe they don’t. But if you brought Vince in and said, “Hey, this is Vince, talk to him for 30 minutes, and see what you think, or take him to lunch, or maybe have him sit at your cubicle and see what we do and [see] if it’s a good fit for him. Then you have this intrinsic need to help this person succeed, because if you said they were a good fit, then you’re going to want them to be a good fit. You’re going to want them to do well. I found with people that I’ve had a chance to say, “Hey, I really like this person, let’s bring them on.” And then we hire them, I feel the need to really try to get them to do well. Not that I wouldn’t otherwise, but it’s a little more of an intrinsic need to make yourself say you made the right call. And that’s not just for hiring managers, that’s for every part of our business. I really feel like the focus on that helps your team and it helps assimilation.
Salandro: In addition to hiring the right employees, how important is the onboarding process within the first 30 to 60 days after you bring on those new hires to their success in the company?
Couch: Training is an industrywide dead zone. We have a really hard time as an industry taking these people who have this … knowledge and … figuring out how to capture that, because we’re all so busy. It’s really not easy to take this person off your line who is building a thousand doors a day … and say, “You go work with this person for one hour a day until they can have time to come out to the floor and start building doors.” It’s very hard to do.
We’re so busy. So, whether it’s, “I’m not going to stop to do the training,” or maybe we tell the person, “I hope you’re really good at this, because this is what we hired you to do and here you go. We need you to enter these orders.” I think we set ourselves up for failure by doing that.
We really need to have formal training and mentoring programs in place when we hire people, whether they’re super experienced or not, so that you can bring people into your fold and [learn from them]. That’s the biggest thing, training people and letting them know that their ideas can be heard and we want to hear their ideas, and then going from there and saying, “This is where you want you to go and this is how we really are going to be strategic about getting you there.” Not just, “Well, we hope in five years you’re a great employee and do what we asked you to do.” I think there’s a lot more to it than that.