Are you using assessments, surveys or indexes to figure out which people on your team would be the best fit to be promoted and into which positions. While I've personally used personality assessments like DISC in the hiring, recruiting and managing and leading of my people, and I've talked about it on the podcast, today, I'm excited to interview Kolbe Certified Growth Consultant and Green Industry veteran Jason Cupp. In this interview, Jason shares why instinct is different from personality, and how the Kolbe Index differs from tools like DISC, Myers-Briggs, and other personality assessments. Jason recommends that you make hiring decisions based on one third instinct, one third skill, and the final third... Well, you've got to hear the interview to find out what it is.
Hey, everyone, Jack Jostes is here and welcome to the Landscapers Guide. You know, I love listening to podcasts and eating beef jerky at the same time. If you haven't tried it, it's an incredible combo. And hey, I'd love to send you some beef jerky for real in the mail, and a free copy of the Landscaper's Marketing Field Guide. I'll send it to you in the Landscaper's Marketing Toolbox in the mail, and it'll give you some beef jerky and some helpful marketing ideas. So if you haven't gotten one of these already, go to landscapersguide.com/toolbox, or see a link in our show notes, and I'll ship one out to you. And without further ado, let's have a great conversation with Jason Cupp.
Hey everyone, Jack Jostes here, and welcome to the Landscaper's Guide. Today, I'm excited to interview Jason Cupp. Jason is a former CEO turn Kolbe Certified Growth Consultant team builder and motivational speaker. He has extensive green industry experience too. He was the president of the National Association of Landscape Professionals from 2008 to 2009, and was on the NALP board from 2006 to 2010. He was the CEO of two different landscape companies in the Kansas City area for over 20 years. And he won the 2018 Lawn and Landscape Leadership award.
Jason now runs a consulting firm focusing on a variety of industries, including lawn and landscape industry. Today, I'm excited to have Jason on the show to talk about how to use assessments in your recruiting, hiring, and managing your team. Jason, welcome to the show.
Hey Jack, thank you so much for having me. Super excited to spend time with you and everybody that's going to watch this. Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. I appreciate you coming on the show. I wanted to start with what is the Kolbe assessment? I've had some experience with DISC assessments. I haven't had a lot with Kolbe. So tell us just generally, what is it?
What Is The Kolbe Assessment?
Yeah, you bet. So I stumbled upon the Kolbe A Index is what it's called. That's their trademark, Kolbe A Index. I stumbled upon the Kolbe A Index, gosh, it was in 2005 when I was running one of my landscape companies. And it automatically changed my world. It also changed our company's world.
And so what it is it measures an individual's natural instincts. Those natural instincts are born into us. So it's not a personality test. It doesn't measure IQ. It's oftentimes miscategorized as a test or an assessment. It's not that. It's an index. And when we're measuring someone's natural instincts, those natural instincts do not change over time, or the statistic is that it's in the upper 90s percentile in terms of indexes that don't change over time. And so we can rely on them. They're predictable. We can determine, based on those results, the way that an individual is going to communicate, the way they're going to problem-solve, the way they're going to work under adversity, the way they're going to complete tasks, their relationship to time and what their best form of communication is.
And I've found over, let's see, so 2005, I do the quick math, 2005 to current, 17 years of being certified in the Kolbe Index, I have found that it is an incredible tool to build a team around. And it's also an incredible tool to hire new team members, to insert into these already dynamic companies that I know are following you and are clients of yours.
When you say natural instincts and that they don't change over time, how and when in life are they formed? Are your natural instincts formed when you're a child, under five? What really shapes someone's instincts?
Where Do Instincts Come From?
So Kathy Kolbe who created the Kolbe Wisdom, she's the theorist behind the entire Kolbe platform, she would say that they're born into us. And she's done extensive research and data mining in the world of children to see... I met my neighbors last night, brand new neighbors just moved in next door. They have a 10 month old. Kathy would tell you that there's certain things that 10 month old would be doing, and as they continued to age, that she would be able to recognize. I can't do that, but she would be able to recognize certain instinctive traits that would live within that child. It's really pretty fascinating. I've seen some videos that Kathy has done.
So it's at birth, it's at birth. We can't change or want or desire our instincts to be anything other than what they are. Our instincts are our instincts are our instincts.
Well, I'm curious, you work primarily with business owners and entrepreneurs. Are there commonalities that you've found in doing this with entrepreneurs? Do they have certain instincts?
Instinct Commonalities Within Entrepreneurs
Very, very interesting question. It's actually asked of me a little bit more often than you would think. Early in my certification, back when I hadn't interpreted as many indexes, I might have said yes. Now I'll say, if I were to look at my database, which literally has thousands upon thousands of indexes of employees and team members and so forth, I would say that it is a wide swath of all kinds of different results. I have some clients who have built up amazing successful businesses that would be in one kind of index, certain action modes. And then I've got the exact same level of success, which might be the opposite of that.
So there is no consistency in terms of the results related to entrepreneurship or running a business, or having a level of success. Because the Kolbe is going to tell us the path in which someone is going to go to get to an end result, not necessarily if they can. It's not a can they do it, or can they not. It's more the path that they're going to go to accomplish the task that they have in front of them.
So do you think then are entrepreneurs and/or leaders, because there can be leaders who aren't necessarily entrepreneurs, and there are entrepreneurs who aren't necessarily leaders, are those born traits? Are there people who are born to be entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs Born Or Made?
I personally think, especially having worked with entrepreneurs in my consulting business for the last, whatever it is, 16, 17 years, I personally think that entrepreneurship is kind of a grit. It's kind of a drive. It's something that lives inside of us that we want to take the risk on to go and build something that's dynamic.
I think entrepreneurship can be learned, but I think... I started my first business when I was eight years old. It probably is something that existed in me as a young child. I mean, evidenced by eight years old, my dad would tell me how I would charge him at the kitchen table to tell him how my day was. You know, "Hi son, how was your day?" "Yeah, I'll tell you, but you got to give me a dollar to do that." And so we laugh about that as a family because it's very true.
But then there's some people that get the entrepreneurship bug and they pursue that. So I don't necessarily know that it's this given talent, but I do think that it can be learned. But I also think that you can just be an entrepreneur and run with it.
Yeah. I actually mentored a nine year old boy recently who started a jewelry business. And in mentoring him, I learned that he was just entrepreneurial in his life. I don't know that he negotiated to tell his parents how his day went, but he was creative, and thinking of ways to sell things and fix things and build things. And it was just interesting to work with somebody so young who seemed to have it innately.
So I'm curious, with instincts, and you mentioned the grit and the risk portion of it, are there certain Kolbe Indexes that are better suited for handling the risk and the stress of the ups and downs? Or how does that kind of tie into how people are running an entrepreneurial lifestyle?
Four Action Modes
Well, if I go back to, I've seen great entrepreneurs, awesome successful entrepreneurs with all kinds of different results. It might be best for me to just quickly share the four action modes that a Kolbe Index can come back as. Four action modes; fact-finder, follow-through, quick-start, and implementer.
Fact-finders need details. If they're an initiating fact-finder, which means that's a dominant instinct, to use kind of a layman's term, they need details, facts, research, data. That's their primary thing. Follow-throughs need to know timelines and schedules and order. They need to have checklists and follow kind of a process either that they've created or that they're following that someone else has created.
Quick-starts, which is what I am, I'm a nine in quick-start and I'm an initiating quick-start, I will make decisions with my gut. I love change. My best work is at the last minute. I typically can do things on the fly. And also, I love to risk. I can risk without having a lot of data behind the risk.
Those that are initiating or dominant in implementer, they love quality. They love using their hands. It's a haptics element. They love quality and quality control. They love tools and the ways to make something better. They're very focused on making sure that quality is their signature. And sometimes they have an individualistic way that they show that quality. They're more about here, come with me, let me show you what I've done, and show you that it's been done properly and with quality.
I got to tell you, all four of those action modes can be a successful entrepreneur. Because it takes data to run a business, it takes processes to run a business, it takes risk and thinking outside of the box, and it takes quality control to run a business. So I've seen amazing entrepreneurs initiate in one or several of those action modes, and be crazy successful.
So Jason, as a quick start, would you be the person in a non-business setting? Let's say you're getting together with a bunch of friends from high school, and you're trying to decide where to eat for dinner that night. Would you be the one that would kind of decide for the group where you're going to go eat?
I wouldn't be the one that would decide, but I would be the one that would try to land the plane and get a decision made. I wouldn't be that, "No we're going here." But I would say, "Hey everybody, here's three choices. What does everybody want?" And so I wouldn't be that because I think that maybe dominance is personality and less instinct.
So I wouldn't be that. I would try to be very collaborative. Quick-starts definitely have a gut feeling about the direction that maybe something would go. And by the way that gut feeling might not be right. So the gut feeling might not be right. That very well could be right. But I would be the one that would try to be collaborative and try to get everybody on the same page to say, "Here's three options. What does everybody think?"
How The Kolbe Index Differs From Tools Like DISC, Myers-Briggs, And Other Personality Assessments
Yeah. I haven't done the Kolbe assessment, or the Kolbe Index. I've mainly done the DISC personality assessment. And we actually have these little guides that my wife printed for our team. And that way it's a quick reference and we have ways to communicate, ways not to communicate. And we mail these to our staff, so that way when they're going to have a conversation with somebody and maybe things are off track, you can kind of be like, oh yeah, this person doesn't like to be communicated with that way, or here's how I could approach them differently. But what I'm hearing you say is this is more personality, whereas Kolbe is instinct. Does that...
Absolutely. And I respect DISC, Myers-Briggs, predictive index, tremendously. And actually a lot of our clients might use two different assessment tools in their business. And I really like DISC. And interestingly enough, what that flip chart that you just had, we do the exact same thing. In the Kolbe world, it's called a Kolbe A to A, where if we have a Kolbe A on one team member and we have a Kolbe A on another team member, we can kind of smash those two together to create almost a guide of communication, problem-solving, working together on a daily basis, not working together on a daily basis. And it really is this awesome guide that our clients love. I mean, we issue a ton of A to As because people just want to know, how can we play better in the sandbox with our team members? How can we get along with them? How can we go and deliver better results easier?
And the Kolbe A Index, with a lot of our clients in that team building element, has been an incredibly powerful tool for them to wrap their head around what they do and the passion element behind that, and what that ultimately means for that team member to feel like they go to work in a passion environment and are tapping their instincts every single day. And they never feel like they're working, or very rarely feel like they're working.
Kolbe Assessments When Recruiting and Hiring
That's incredible. It sounds really nice to be able to do that. It's springtime, I'm thinking our landscape clients here who are feeling understaffed and they're really struggling. Does it make sense to use Kolbe or personality assessments when you're recruiting and hiring in a market like this, in a labor market like this? Should you go through that thorough of an interview process to match somebody who's going to be energized by the job?
So I would say that for me, the boots on the ground field position, people that are actually out doing the trade, the lifeblood of the company as you and I both know, that probably is not a position that I would do Kolbe Wisdom work on.
Now, I will say that I advise my clients that if we've got somebody out in the field who is exhibiting the opportunity to move up in the organization into a management or leadership type of a role, that we might want to get a Kolbe A on them to determine maybe where they might fit best. But in terms of hiring the boots on the ground, probably the Kolbe A Index is not something that we would ever recommend.
Now, for all management positions, operations manager, office manager, to sales designers, customer service, account managers, accounting folks, administrative, CSRs, all of those positions, we absolutely recommend to use Kolbe RightFit is what it's called. The thing that we love about Kolbe RightFit is that you can take a Kolbe Index that measures what natural instincts would be most successful in a position. So it's not about a person, it's about a position. Let's say one of your clients wanted to hire a new sales designer. They would take a Kolbe Index about a sales and designer. And then when they had applicants that they thought were really awesome, they would issue the Kolbe A. And we create what's called a range of success. And the range of success is just that. It gives us a range of a result that will demonstrate cognitive or instinctive success. And then we kind of smash the Kolbe A into the range of success, and it actually gives a grade, A through F, whether or not they will be able to be successful instinctively in that position.
Now, hiring for us doesn't stop there. And as I think maybe you know, or some people who know me, we own, or I own an HR consulting company so we talk this language a lot in our hiring practices. We also believe, this a little bit of a nugget that we really only share with clients, is that we believe that the hiring process and that management or front office position is one third skill. Do they have the skill, the resume, the experience, the education to do the job? Number two would be one third culture. How well do they play in the sandbox with the team? Do they fit culturally with the team? That's more of a personality element. Are they going to be able to work well with their coworkers? And then one third instincts, which would be Kolbe RightFit.
So we walk our clients through a process where we're analyzing the skill, the personality culture, and then also the instincts. And if we have check marks in those boxes, then we know that we're jumping towards a little bit of a better hire than just, "Hey, this resume looks good, you look good for us, will you take 20 bucks an hour?" Which is the way a lot of people are hiring right now. And the cost of a bad hire is a lot more than 20 bucks an hour or whatever the hiring rate is.
Oh, it is. Absolutely. So I'm curious, and partly just to play devil's advocate here, why wouldn't you then go through a similar process for hiring your field staff if you're going to have high turnover and if they are the lifeblood of the company, they're the people out on job sites. There's a lot of risk in hiring the wrong person, training them, only to have them leave four weeks in. Why wouldn't we apply this similar index to that person?
Great question. And I would say it's really a function... Well, number one, it's a function of what the assessment is actually measuring. I mean, we rarely, if ever issue a Kolbe A to anyone that's out in the field, unless we think that they're going to move up. So that's a historical thing for us.
But I would also say that in today's marketplace, and today's marketplace has actually been the same marketplace. Even though a lot of people would say COVID made hiring a lot more difficult. It did, but it was still difficult before that. And so the thing that I have said, and I've said it publicly up on stage in my speaking engagements for years and years and years, is that you got to get into the mind of the applicant. You got to get into the mind of that position. And they want a job, they want it fast, and they want to work for a good person. Now, we hope that we find somebody who's awesome that they can move up in the organization. So it's more of a timing thing, and also a mindset of getting into the mind of the applicant and what they need to make a decision to join a team. And quick to market is super important.
Yeah. Being fast is so important. And one thing we've seen that works really well is text messaging during the application process of getting, "Hey, Jason, thanks so much for applying. I'm going to give you a call from this number." And then that way, they see the call, they've seen the number, they take the call, and moving them quickly.
So that was my hunch of why, the speed of this. And I also know, just working with clients, that many of those people don't pan out. And I thought, I don't know, maybe you should pay more and make them jump through some hoops, and then just keep people who are going to be energized by it. But maybe that doesn't work.
We've tried it before just in a couple of case studies. And I would say that it ended up not being successful. And so we don't even recommend it. I mean, maybe we need to dip our toe back into that water, but it's just not something that I recommend.
I will tell you, I don't know... I mean, we talked briefly before we started recording. If your clients have technical type positions, like a fertilization weed control applicator, or an irrigation tech, or a high level project manager who's a working manager, that would be probably the case closest to the boots on the ground that we'd want to issue a Kolbe A. But in terms of crew members or a crew leader, so on and so forth, probably wouldn't want to put them through the RightFit process.
Well, Jason, this has been great. You're a wealth of information and wisdom. I'd love to just keep chatting, but we've got to our wrap up. So for everyone listening, where can we connect with you?
Jasoncupp.com, or on almost all the major social medias at Jason Cupp. So that's the best way to get in touch with me.
Cool. So that's Jason C-U-P-P dot com. And I'll put a link to that in our show notes for everyone listening. And Jason, thanks again for coming on the show.
You're welcome. Thanks for having me
Jack. Be good.
All right, everyone. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode. My name's Jack Jostes and you've been listening to the Landscaper's Guide. You know, I love sending beef jerky to landscapers. It's kind of a big deal. It makes me really happy. And if you haven't gotten any beef jerky, I'd love to send you some. So go to landscapersguide.com/toolbox. I will ship you a bag of beef jerky, the Landscaper's Marketing Field Guide, and I'll send you right away our top three podcast episodes. So check that out at landscapersguide.com/toolbox. See our show notes for a link. And I look forward to talking to you next week.