(2) Technology- even when Atomic was at 10-15 people, they invested in the future by implementing technology at the level a 100 person recruiting company would. Consequently, their CRM and databases are very robust and flexible enough to scale to support even 100 more personnel at Atomic.
(3) Culture- Jeff Hu admits that in his business, it's very easy for an employee to leave for a competitor that offers slightly more money. So they have consciously created a family-like business to make people feel welcome and comfortable. In addition, one of their cultural pillars is a strong sense of ethics. For example, Atomic doesn't hold bonuses or commissions and pays out 100% when people leave.
Jeff Hu and the team spent a lot of time creating the aforementioned competitive advantages. Of course, he's experienced his share of both wins and setbacks throughout this process. As Jeff reflected on Atomic's growth and success, he revealed the following guidance and learnings:
*Transparent and Celebrated Performance - At Atomic, they have a big board that stack ranks and lists everyone's name and sales number by it. So there is no hiding and no hidden agendas. On the same token, every quarter, they have a kickoff, which honors high achievers, top billers, and staff who hit their targets. They'll give away five to 10 awards during this celebration. And they have even taken a company trip to Hainan Island after hitting a company stretch goal.
*Flexible Goals Based on Reality - Many businesses have goals for their staff and stick with it despite what macroeconomic conditions may call for. At Atomic, Jeff adjusts employees' quarterly bonus every quarter depending on the economy and how the person is performing. These targets are meant to challenge people. Since 80% of their compensation is commissions, these additional bonuses based on goals are variable to keep them motivated and challenged without being daunting.
*Don't Change Company Policies to Police Minority - At one point, Atomic initiated policy changes to specifically target the actions of one to two people. Everyone in the company knew that the changes were meant to address these individuals' behaviors. Upon reflection, Jeff doesn't think it was a good business or cultural decision and in hindsight would have addressed the situation directly with the individuals without affecting the other 95% of the company.
*Grow with Executive Coach - Atomic has hired an outside consultant to create a fair and comfortable environment for their executives. In Jeff's mind the next step is to take the process to another level by having the coach conduct 360 review for each executive. This then creates a non-threatening forum to discuss how the executives can improve individually and as a team.
*Conclusion - I think Jeff Hu's parents would be proud that their son took their life lessons to heart and now "leads by sharing" at Atomic. I think recruitment can be a very transactional, numbers-based, "what have you done for me lately?" type of business. But with Jeff's deft touch and influence, they're incorporating sustainable and hard to copy advantages such as professionalism, transparency, and culture that endears them to their clients and candidates. As Atomic continues to flourish, I think that the next evolution of the company will be for management to grow with their executive coach and for management to set their culture free.
*Follow @TINYhr on Twitter to get the latest insights and best practices from entrepreneurs as David continues his travels and interviews around-the-world.
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