Jeff Fox develops leaders at Source4Teachers by starting with the right hires

J. Jeffrey Fox, CEO and managing member of Source4Teachers, is constantly looking for where “the bodies are buried,” so to speak.
His staffing company is growing at a phenomenal rate. The revenue has been increasing at more than 100 percent a year for five years — and the skill sets required and managerial techniques needed for a $5 million company are vastly different than a $100 million company.
“Our goal is to try to promote from within, but when you have that type of growth you’re really looking at the ability to determine: Do the people you have on your team have the ability to have their skill set expand that much to grow with the business and get ahead of the curve?” Fox says.
Not only does he always need to stay plugged into the job market looking for outside talent with the right skills, but he also needs to know in advance when he must hire somebody so he can bring them on-board relatively quickly as the company grows.
“What I do is I’m trying to find where the bodies are buried. I’m looking for the quality management that I can bring on-board by knowing where people are and where I can find them,” he says. “I’m always evaluating outside talent skills versus the internal skills that I have.”
Fox wants to build the best overall team of quality talent, because as an owner, the one thing he has absolutely 100 percent influence over is who he hires.
Finding the right fit
If a company is having trouble developing leaders, the first step is to look at the hiring process.
Along with the desired skill sets, Fox says a fundamental part of hiring the right people is getting the right personality and cultural fit to what you’re trying to achieve.
You need to decide whether you’re looking for individual performers who are going to drive things, or if you will be more actively managing the company, then you need collegial people who can build consensus.
“The key here is knowing your organization,” he says, “and getting the right personality and leadership attributes within that organization so there’s congruence between your organizational culture and the personality traits of your senior management team.
“That is really going to enhance the ability for them to work together and to be successful within the organization.”
Fox also thinks you need to be very clear with new hires — and all employees — on their objectives and what you want from them, while making sure there’s trust and two-way communication.
Employees need to know they can make a mistake, but it won’t cost them their job. And likewise, if they want to ask for assistance, it shouldn’t be held against them.