CareerBuilder recently sat down with Tom Daley, President of Volt Workforce Solutions, to discuss his leadership philosophy. In the following excerpt, Daley shares the lessons he’s learned in 30 years at Volt, including why empowerment is essential and the most important decision he’s ever made.
What is your philosophy as it relates to people and their impact on your daily business?
Being in the recruitment service industry gives us the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of people each and every day. After 30 years with Volt, I have come to realize that you can never minimize the value and importance of providing a job or career for a person. It impacts the individual, their family and their future. My philosophy has always been to respect people and their abilities. I expect this philosophy to exist at all levels of our company. In our industry, a recruiter doesn’t just use computers and job boards to place people. People place people. We may get the same job description from three different clients, but it’s our recruiters who recognize the importance of making a culture match as well as a skills match. Their ability to respect each candidate and yet make accurate candidate placements with our clients has the biggest impact on our daily business.
Has your philosophy evolved over time? How do you share this philosophy with clients when you consult with them on their own talent acquisition needs?
My belief in treating people with respect, both up and down the organization, hasn’t changed. The same holds true for clients. My approach has always been to be objective and level-headed and respect the issues that each client faces. What confirmed this approach for me is Volt’s implementation of Six Sigma methodologies eight years ago. Six Sigma has enabled us to formalize our actions and processes with our clients. So by this I mean, we always knew the importance of listening to the voice of the customer and giving them what they value, but with Six Sigma every decision we make on a client’s behalf is information-based. This allows us to quickly make decisions and improvements based on the best available data, and this gives us the ability to measure and demonstrate results. This Six Sigma approach is shared at every level of interaction with our clients and our internal customers.
How do you engage with and relate to your employees? Do you have additional programs to engage your candidates and contractors?
As I’m traveling for client meetings, I also make it a point to visit the employees in our local branch offices. We’ll have informal brown bag lunch sessions where I can get to know all of our employees. I make sure they have the opportunity to ask me any questions they might have. Volt is an entrepreneurial-based business where we put a great deal of energy into reaching out to candidates in our local communities. I’m especially proud of our efforts to engage our military veterans through our Volt Military Heroes Program.
What are the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned?
After more than 30 years of leading people at Volt, what stands out for me is the importance of empowerment. As simple as that sounds, I want to make sure that each person is empowered to provide their own ideas, which are essential to the future of our organization I have also learned that “business is business.” When you are dealing with people, you are dealing with emotions. In business, objective business decisions are almost always the best decision.
How do you define VOLT’s culture? As a leader what role do you play and what is your impact on the culture?
Given that Volt was started more than 60 years ago by two brothers, William and Jerome Shaw, I’d say Volt’s culture embraces innovation while maintaining a strong sense of history and family. We have an incredible blend of people at Volt, some have been with the company many years as well as new talent from many different industries, and each of us is genuinely committed to creating the future of our company. Everyone is part of a team regardless of title and everyone makes a difference as part of that team. I see my role as leading by example. I truly believe that “it’s not just what we say, it’s what we do” that defines my actions as a leader.
VOLT has a reputation for great leaders with a long tenure at the company. How does your unique culture foster retention?
For me, two of the most gratifying aspects of working for Volt are helping people realize that the recruitment profession may be the career path for them, and second is our entrepreneurial spirit. When people are passionate about their careers and are empowered to take actions that will make a difference, they look forward to coming to work each and every day. It’s this kind of attitude and culture that fosters our employee longevity.
How do you make your overall talent strategy a priority internally, and what role do you play in driving it?
At Volt, our overall talent strategy is simple: hire…train…retain.
Anyone who has been hired at Volt knows how extensive our hiring process is, with our key executives involved in every hire. One of the things we look for in our employees is passion. We know we can teach people about the industry, but we can’t teach passion. Finding people who are passionate about the business of recruitment and who appreciate how life-changing a job can be is the heart of our business. Once they’re hired, our employees get the best training available in our industry. Because of our Six Sigma culture, employees are encouraged and mentored to participate in belt training programs. Nearly 40% of our in-house employees have completed Six Sigma training. This training not only increases their skills and value in project management and analytical methods, but it changes the way they think and act. Providing these opportunities contributes to the high levels of commitment and retention among our people.
Our talent strategy has a top-down approach. In my role as Executive Champion for Six Sigma, I’m responsible for defining the direction for our talent strategy, setting priorities, and approving the projects we undertake. I also play an active role in all project report-outs.
What do you do to rally the team and reinforce your employment brand?
I’ve surrounded myself with strong leaders who are empowered to drive decisions down to the appropriate level within the company. Almost every person in our organization is given KPIs so they can track where they should be and how they can continuously improve. Our brand is reinforced through our commitment to hiring the highest quality talent and through every satisfied client.
What would you consider the most important decision you ever had to make as a leader?
The difficult economic climate of the past three years had a tremendous impact on the staffing industry and Volt. To create a path forward through the recession, meant making broad changes in our company, from our organizational structure to our geographic footprint and client opportunities. The decisions I had to make in terms of personnel and office consolidations were the most difficult I’ve made as a leader, but I believe ultimately laid the groundwork for a stronger future for this company.
I consider the decision to implement Six Sigma in 2002 as among the most important decisions I’ve made. This allowed Volt to make a tremendous shift in our direction, our culture, and to truly differentiate Volt from the rest of our industry.
Can you give me one or two examples of how one person had a major impact at VOLT?
Volt’s co-founder, Jerry Shaw, has had the greatest impact on Volt and on my career. For more than 30 years that I’ve worked with Jerry, he is always approachable, down-to-earth and absolutely committed to the success of Volt. He leads by example and no one has more passion or works harder than he does. At 84, he still travels more than 90 miles one way to come to work at Volt and is in the office by 8:00 AM every day. Jerry’s work ethic and his common-sense perspective on the business continue to be an inspiration to all of us!
What other advice would you share with your executive peers though this piece?
Hire the right people…empower them…and get out of the way.
ABOUT TOM DALEY: As president of Volt Workforce Solutions, Tom Daley is responsible for Volt’s global talent acquisition operations through a network of locations in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. During three decades at Volt, starting in 1980, Tom has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth to one of the world’s largest staffing organizations. In 2001, he was named as an executive officer of Volt. Tom is very active in national staffing and has served as a member of the board of directors of the American Staffing Association since 2002. He was elected an officer of the ASA board in 2010.
ABOUT VOLT: Volt is a global provider of talent, technology and consulting solutions. Founded in 1950, Volt services industries worldwide including aerospace, automotive, banking & finance, consumer electronics, information technology, insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, media & entertainment, pharmaceutical, software, telecommunications, transportation and utilities. Volt operates a network of locations throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia.Related
Forget what you think you know about HR... it's all about to change.
Sign up to start getting exclusive content designed to empower you with the insight necessary to go from HR professional to strategic business partner.