We are thrilled to share a great article featuring our very own Bob Wiltz! -
Some companies are all about formalities — long, drawn-out decision making processes; PowerPoint presentations; and a “top-down” organizational structure in which conversations between the CEO and associates never happen. Paris Presents is not one of those companies.
“Our culture is a key to our success,” said Bob Wiltz, chief customer officer. “It’s all about authenticity and challenging ourselves, as leaders, to be authentic. It’s about leaders being present — doing a lot of deep listening. It’s about being externally focused. It’s a culture where we are informal and we have fun, and instead of holding on to ideas, we make decisions, take the risk and move on.”
Paris Presents’ approach to recruiting top talent is highly reflective of this culture. The company’s executive team devotes considerable time to networking activities, such as industry breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings, where they attempt to scout out talent. Attendance at such events as the Future Leaders Summit, held by Mack Elevation Forum in conjunction with Drug Store News, and seeking referrals from others — even, as Wiltz noted, friends of friends of connections — comprise other strategies for finding the best prospects.
“We’re doing this all the time, even if we don’t currently have an open position,” Wiltz stated. “If we find someone who’s really great and we don’t have a position open, we’ll find a job for them. If we’re impressed with someone, we’ll forge a relationship with them — get to know them and then see if there’s a fit. We’ve even hired people we’ve spent several years getting to know. We spend a lot of interview time talking about our culture, and if there’s a match, there’s a strong attraction for us.”
In fact, Wiltz observed, Paris Presents is so committed to attracting the best and brightest talent that it opened a satellite office in downtown Chicago. Management made the move based on the belief that many of the most highly skilled potential employees reside in the city and would not want to make the 90-minute commute from their homes to the company’s headquarters in Gurnee, Ill. “The Chicago office has really opened up the talent pool,” Wiltz reported.
Once employees are on board, support for their growth and impetus for their inclination to remain with the company kick in. Steps to “ensure an understanding of each person’s career goals and aspirations” and forge an alignment of their goals with those of the company include sending employees to forums, connecting them with coaches and mentors, and surrounding them with a peer group of “highpotential people,” Wiltz explained.
He added that these initiatives are not “cookie-cutter” in nature. Rather, training, coaching and mentoring are tailored to the current plan for the person in question to increase the potential that they will be of value.
Meanwhile, a one- to two-day General Management University, held each quarter, focuses on developing the skills employees will need to move forward. University sessions focus on individual skills, such as account business planning and “financial literacy” for salespeople. A case study approach, reminiscent of that used by business schools, comes into play to maximize learning value.
Employees also experience “check-ins” with Paris Presents’ CEO, where they can explain what they are working on and have a true dialogue. “This shows that we’re really present, which is a major element of our culture and a ‘must’ for retaining talent,” Wiltz observed. Wiltz and his colleagues do not believe the challenges posed by today’s workforce are any different than the challenges posed by older generations. “Many people say millennials are different from Generation X and the Baby Boomers, but I don’t think that’s true,” he said. “Regardless of generation, if you build a culture around authenticity, presence, an external focus, informality and development — if you have fun and are present and engaging with your employees — talented people will want to work with you and help
your company to grow.”