Cultivating Talent to Promote Internally with Nick Francis
Speaker 1: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. Each day we welcome transformational executives to share their real world experiences and practical advice about scaling yourself, your team, and your business.
Matt Blumberg: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. I'm Matt Blumberg, founder and CEO of Bolster, and with me today is my friend, Nick Francis. Nick is the co- founder and CEO of Help Scout, a customer support platform for growing businesses. Good to see you, Nick.
Nick Francis: Great to see you, buddy.
Matt Blumberg: What can I help you with? What's on your mind today?
Nick Francis: I want to talk a bit about what it takes to cultivate in- house talent and leadership over a long period of time. I know that you had a lot of success with that on your previous business, and I'd love to hear more about the playbook that you leveraged in order to make that happen.
Matt Blumberg: It's a great topic. I, like most founders of scaling businesses, hired a bunch of senior people in from the outside. Anytime the board says, " You got to go hire the big talent, the person that's been there and done that." Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't work. We did have a lot more success at Return Path hiring people in the middle and promoting them up, and it's a great question to ask. I would say we kind of had a three- part formula for it. I mean, there's four parts. The first one is you have to care about it and you have to put time into it, if you assume that. The first thing is you have to either acquire or develop management and leadership training courses. We built our own, but we used an outside consultant in learning and development executive coaching to help us, but we built our own because we felt really strongly about teaching leadership and management the way we wanted to teach it with our company's values. It's acquiring or developing training, and it's making the personal commitment as the founder to lead that training yourself. I think there is nothing more important you can do as a leader to train other leaders. It is worth every minute you put into it. That was the first thing. That's the foundation, you have to care about it, and you have to get the training together, and commit to deliver it yourself. The second thing is when you hire people from the outside, and you can always keep training your own junior people and homegrown talent, but hiring people from the outside is really helpful when you have a rapidly scaling business, because you do want people who have operated at greater scale. But one of the challenges with that is the person that you think you want is usually not obtainable. Founders come to me all the time at Bolster and they say, " I want the guy, I want the woman who took X, Y, Z company from 10 million in revenue to a hundred million in revenue." The reality is that person doesn't want your job anymore. That person is into a hundred million in revenue. That person might be cashed out, or that person wants to take something from a hundred million to a billion, but what you want is the person that was like that person's number two, or that person's number three, where they were kind of along for the ride. They saw a lot of things, but they didn't actually get there on their own, and now they're ready to take the lead and do it. It's sort of looking for those senior manager level or director level people that you can then put the muscle into developing for a year or two and kind of grow your own. And then finally, the third thing is then when you're hiring, you obviously do want to hire for that journey that they've had at that functional competency, but you really want to hire for your own values and in particular for a learning and growth mentality, because if your thesis is you're going to take people in the middle and you're going to put your stamp on them and make them a leader that's functioning in your ecosystem, in your organization, you want people who care about that. You want people who, as I said, have that learning and growth mentality. All I can say is by the end of the 20 years at Return Path, almost the entire executive team had been promoted from within. They were either founders, one was acquired in, and everyone else sort of was homegrown or came in at that director level, and we raised up from there. And I do not regret that one bit.
Nick Francis: That's amazing. Well, it translated into your team at Bolster.
Matt Blumberg: It did. A lot of the people are the ones here, and it's a good formula, but it really starts with caring about it and with writing the training yourself, and giving the training yourself.
Nick Francis: Super helpful.
Matt Blumberg: All right. Thanks, Nick. Good to see you. Appreciate you being here.
Nick Francis: All right, buddy. See you.
We’re turning the tables with an Ask Bolster episode! Matt shares his playbook for building effective teams and developing leaders with a growth mentality.
Nick Francis is the co-founder and CEO of Help Scout, a customer support platform for growing businesses. Today, he and Matt discuss what it takes to cultivate in-house talent and embody organizational values.