Culture Factor 2.0

If You Hire and Fire based on an Intentional Value System, Could you Unintentionally Find the Perfect Company Culture?

Episode Summary

Brandon Andra is a serial entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of California Renewable Energy. Prior to California Renewable Energy, he founded and served as President of a SaaS software company. Brandon has developed and managed many high performing sales teams over his years. He currently leads a team of over 54 sales reps that he has scaled in the past 6 months. This insane growth of human capital has had unique challenges and also massive opportunities. Today on The Culture Factor, Brandon will talk with us about how intentionally hiring people in line with company values can unintentionally affect work culture for the better.

Episode Notes

http://companytribes.com

 

http://californiarenewableenergy.com

 

Episode Transcription

Speaker 1:
Welcome to the Culture Factor, where we talk to founders and influential leaders about company culture. We share stories from the C suite that help executives engage their business from the inside and create a map to transform their culture, because the truth is culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Holly Shannon:
I want to thank our listeners for joining the Culture Factor and ask that you subscribe, rate, and consider leaving a review. We'd love to hear who you'd like to listen to next. And thank you to our sponsor, Company Tribes. They have an app and a virtual experience to help keep your tribe together during difficult times like now and business as usual. How strong is your company culture? Reach out to Paul@companytribes.com.

Holly Shannon:
Today we have Brandon Andra who is a serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of California Renewable Energy. Prior to that, he founded and served as president of a SaaS software company. Brandon has developed and managed many high performing sales teams over his years. He currently leads a team of over 54 sales reps that he has scaled in the past six months. This insane growth of human capital has had unique challenges and also massive opportunities.

Holly Shannon:
Today on the Culture Factor, Brandon will talk with us about how intentionally hiring people in line with company values can unintentionally affect work culture for the better. So let me introduce. Hello, Brandon Andra. Welcome to the Culture Factor.

Brandon Andra:
Hey guys. Thanks for having me.

Holly Shannon:
It's nice to have you. We also have Paul Jones with us. He's the co-producer of Culture Factor. Hi, Paul.

Paul Jones:
Hey, thanks for having me on.

Holly Shannon:
Yeah. Welcome aboard. Our sponsor today is Company Tribes, and Paul is also the president of Company Tribes. And we'll put a link to that in the show notes at the end. So let's dive in. Brandon, can you share with us your intentional interview process?

Brandon Andra:
Yeah. So right now with our interview process, it actually kind of happens before the interview process. So we've tested out throwing up job applications online in, I would guess, the typical way a company is going to source their employees. And we've really struggled with that. And so a vein that's worked really well for us is just working through referrals through our current employees. And the two things that we hire and fire by are good humans and hard work. And if they have those two, then we'll sit down and do an interview. But by the time we've sat down and done an interview, we already have stories or examples or demonstrations, where the person that's referring that person for us to sit down with has shared with us. And so we like to do a lot of the work before the actual interview itself, just so we know who we're talking with.

Brandon Andra:
Because you can ask anybody, are you a hard worker? They're going to say, yes. You can ask anybody, are you a good human? They're going to say yes. And so we try and get those opinions from people other than the person we're talking to.

Brandon Andra:
But what's the most important thing to me, our organization is very sales centric, and that's how we started. Now the ops play just the biggest part is the sales do in revenue. But I just had to sit down because we were starting with sales and say, look, when it comes down to it at the end of the day, what do I need from a person to have success or not? And what are the obstacles that I'm okay dealing with, and what are the ones I'm not? And everything came back to these two things. And what's been so interesting for me is I started out thinking that, how do you say someone's a good human or not?

Brandon Andra:
And I thought you have hard work or you don't, and the complete opposite has happened, that when we sit down with people, whether it's me and a manager, or we're doing a group interview, whatever, you just know in the first 30 seconds, if they checked that box on being a good human or not. And you can tell when you're talking with their friends or whoever referred them, yeah, this person's got integrity or he doesn't. Or this person treats others with respect or he doesn't.

Brandon Andra:
Whereas on the work side, people have came in at all sorts of the spectrum. And I'm not saying that they're not on the good human, but it seems like it's more of an intentional choice. And so we're a little bit more willing to work with somebody on their work ethics and get them up and teach them how to be relentless and have grit and just stay consistent. But man, sometimes it's hard to change people if they believe in honesty and integrity or not.

Paul Jones:
So it's not like, for your good human, it's not like you have this, all right, Sam, I'd like you to take this 10 question questionnaire about if you're a good human or not. If you pass it, you're in.

Brandon Andra:
No, I wish it was more scientific and hopefully we can get there. You know, maybe it's the Myers-Briggs, I don't really know how... And if you guys find anything, let us know, because you guys are diving deep into this culture stuff. But for us, it's an intangible. And we know by the way that that person that's referring them is talking about them. And then we know when we meet them face to face. And that's one of our roles, is every person we sit down with face to face for an in person meeting, before we take him down the pass.

Paul Jones:
I'm going to ask you Brandon, as you're kind of doing the back, a lot of times you hear in hiring processes, you have to call at least three people, whether it's someone that's one of the recommendations that you get on the application. It seems like you guys stick pretty closely to that. Are you calling the people that your candidates are recommending, or are you going outside of that and doing some more in depth work?

Brandon Andra:
We're trying something new that I've never done at any previous company. When I first started 14 years ago in sales, we did things a certain way. At my last software company, we always called three references. What I didn't like about that, though, was the candidate usually hand picked those references. And so they were already prepped to talk about that individual a certain way. Where now, we're kind of tossing that out the window and just saying, look, everybody in our company, you know what we hire and what we fire by. So even if somebody squeaks in here, they're not going to last very long if they don't have these two things. And so with this strategy, we're just trusting our employees a little bit, that if they refer someone, they truly believe they have those two things. So at this point, we haven't made any reference calls, and it's worked out so far. And we're testing out a new strategy. I've never done this before at any other company.

Holly Shannon:
It sounds like it's working really well for you. You're scaling really fast, and you have such a trustworthy team. You seem very excited about-

Brandon Andra:
Yeah.

Holly Shannon:
Yeah, yeah.

Brandon Andra:
Yeah. At this point right here, I was forecasting somewhere between 20 and 30 employees, and we're at 54. So we went from four to 54 within the last six months. And we have the conversation with our employees, look, we're willing to compromise growth and profit to make sure that we adhere to these two values, good humans and hard work. And they know we'll stand by that. And so I was predicting us to grow a little bit slower because we were being very picky with who we brought on, but it's worked out really well, where we've grown twice as fast as I thought we would.

Paul Jones:
Well, Brandon, I didn't know there were that many good humans on the planet. That's amazing you've got that many. Just kidding. Just kidding.

Brandon Andra:
Right?

Holly Shannon:
Clearly there's a lot of benefits to focusing on hiring with integrity. Let me ask you another question. So as we look at how this all translates in the pipeline of the design of your sales team and your operations team, which I think you had alluded that they're very different for you, and I'll let you elaborate on that. Has the design of your sales team, your operations team, how has that looked in your supply chain, which ultimately brings you to your customers?

Brandon Andra:
Yeah, I think it's been everything. At my last company, the mistake that we made was trying to bring in core values or guiding principles halfway through the company. And so we existed for about five years before it was acquired. And about two and a half years in, we tried to implement some core values that we would hire and fire by. And now I can tell you, I always had the traditional sales versus ops tension at that software company. And we tried our best to break down those silos and collaborate and have that synergy. But this time it's been completely different, starting from day one and letting everybody know this is what we stand for. And part of the criteria in good human is having integrity, having honesty, but also treating others with respect. And so how that's impacted us, it's going from sales to ops to the customer at the very end of the processes. It's changed everything in our reputation, our reviews online. We have way more synergy with our ops teams.

Brandon Andra:
We have more transaction, more sales from that, but we also have less cancellations. And and a lot of that is, I think, the vibe and the experience that our customers have with our reps. So for me, it's been everything to start it from day one and implement it coming into this business.

Holly Shannon:
Do you find that you kind of look to those same core values within your supply chain, with the partnerships that you make?

Brandon Andra:
Absolutely. And that's what's really defined who we are and our pricing with our partnerships, because we hear all the time, look, we'll give you guys better pricing because we like working with you guys. We hate working with everybody else. And sometimes they can't even describe why, sometimes they can, but we know why. And we have those set of values that we adhere to very closely. It doesn't matter if you're a rep, you're a manager, who you are in the company. That's what we stand for. And it's cool to see it come full circle and see how others view us as well.

Paul Jones:
Brandon, so you've done the process of hiring these people to these values, hard work and being a good human. How do you keep that going? How do you keep those values alive in everyday work?

Brandon Andra:
Yeah, so I think that's the struggle. And I think that's what we're going to try and be intentional about, to try and maintain that as we go to 100, 200, 500 reps. I think that'll be tough. How we're doing it right now is when we give shout outs to people, when there is recognition given or highlights, we try and tie everything back to working hard and the results that are produced there or being a good human and what happened.

Brandon Andra:
For example, I had a rep that I was highlighting the other day because he noticed on his commission report that we had overpaid him. And so he demonstrated integrity, which would fall under our good human, told us, which he could have easily kept that. We would have never caught it because it had already been audited and passed the audit on payroll. And so nobody would have ever caught that. He could have kept that extra money, but instead he reached out to me, let us know. And so I wanted to highlight that to everybody else, so we can say, look, this isn't just when you come in the door, this is after you come in the door and the whole time that you're here, because it's truly what we hire and fire by.

Paul Jones:
That's a good point. And often it's so easy to get in a room and come up with some values that mean something to you, but it's a whole other thing to really instill it into the workforce. And so I think going upstream and making sure that you're hiring to that, and then keeping that theme going on is so valuable because it just shows reliability from a company standpoint. And how has that now, Brandon, as you're looking to the future and growing your team, how is this going to shape your results? How does the shape your work... Like you were talking about, your environment? What does that environment feel like to you guys?

Brandon Andra:
Yeah, I think it increases our longevity for the role that you're in or the company or everything. I know, as I look across the 54 people that we've hired, I love working with these guys. And as I explained, the especially being a good human to people, I call it the Christmas party test. If you are getting to go to the Christmas party, are you excited to go to the Christmas party with your spouse to hang out with your coworkers? Or is it an awkward event? Because you don't really like working with them, right?

Holly Shannon:
That's perfect.

Brandon Andra:
That's what we call the Christmas party test.

Holly Shannon:
I love that test.

Brandon Andra:
I think we've all been there where you're like, "Babe, I know it sucks. We got to go there for three hours, but we have to. It's the company." And then-

Holly Shannon:
Can we hashtag that?

Paul Jones:
Christmas party test. Yes.

Brandon Andra:
But then I've had very few times where I'm actually excited, besides hanging out with our friends, this is a work environment that I've been able to take my spouse to, and we're excited to go, to have the conversations or the people. And so to answer your question, Paul, I think it just totally increases the longevity of what we're trying to do. When we can unite on our values, then we can work in harmony, and then we can work on the hard stuff or the challenges or the obstacles that are in every industry, every business. But I don't want to be having the obstacle of what are our values. We've got to have these in place and then we can go faster.

Holly Shannon:
Wow. That's fantastic. Thank you, Brandon. I'm going to end on this note because it's so perfect. And we're taking the hashtag Christmas party test. Maybe I should say happy holidays.

Brandon Andra:
When you guys go to your Christmas part this year, you'll think about that.

Holly Shannon:
Absolutely.

Paul Jones:
There you go. Exactly.

Holly Shannon:
Absolutely. Thank you, Brandon. This was really great, having you on the Culture Factor. I hope you had a good time.

Brandon Andra:
Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

Paul Jones:
Thanks for coming.