6 of the Reasons Why Hanold Associates Is a Superstar Recruiter

Jason Hanold, CEO and managing partner at Hanold Associates HR Executive Search, recently spoke with the online publication CEOChitChat. He discussed industry best practices, formulas for success, and his vision for his company’s future.

Hanold Associates has built up a diverse client base that includes some of today’s marquee international brands. Over the firm’s years of operation, clients have included the online marketplace eBay, outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, Vail Resorts, and recently, the martial arts-focused promotion company UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The company continues to concentrate on helping such corporations fill crucial top-level human resources executive positions.


  1. It Utilizes a Transparent Process That Builds Trust

Hanold Associates focuses on serving the interests of both corporate clients and job candidates in a thoughtful, intentional way. The firm concentrates on executive search strategies and recruiting with particular respect to human resources. In order to provide this type of high-level service, transparency is essential to the process.

The team spends considerable time and effort getting to know candidates, each of whom has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and values. The entry process involves active listening in conversation with each candidate.

This helps the team fully understand the types of workplace environments that will best mesh with each individual’s skills, preferences, and temperament. Achieving the right fit within each organization’s culture is of central importance to the Hanold Associates team.


Team members also make sure to provide accurate, unbiased, and unfiltered advice to each client firm regarding the best fit for any particular position.

Thanks to these values of transparency, individual attention, and candid professional assessments, the Hanold Associates team has won the trust and repeat business of numerous corporate customers. Top-flight candidates often learn of the company’s work through recommendations from previous satisfied candidates as well.


  1. It Emphasizes Relationship-Building before Transaction-Making

Hanold Associates team members want to find the best fit possible for the range of executive positions available. They also genuinely look forward to seeing their candidates succeed and thrive in their new positions.

Creating an accurate and thorough assessment of a candidate’s skills, strengths, and challenges in order to match him or her with the right organizational culture is not an easy task. It requires dedication, patience, and high-level communication abilities. Asked how his staff work to develop a 360-degree portrait of a candidate, Jason Hanold noted that it all begins with relationship-building.

For his team, the process involves helping the candidate answer in a way that reflects actual preferences, talents, and concerns. It is not helpful to simply repeat conventional wisdom or tell an interviewer what the candidate thinks he or she wants to hear.


  1. Its Team Members Are Genuinely Interested

Mr. Hanold’s team often begins by asking seldom-heard questions. What was a candidate’s early life like? Who had a strong influence on him or her? What was the world like when the candidate was growing up, or just starting out in the workforce?

These questions can open up entirely new avenues of discussion, revealing much more about a candidate than his or her prepared answers would do. In fact, by being sincerely interested early on in an interview, an interviewer can often draw the candidate in to a genuine conversation, rather than merely running through a routine set of yes or no questions.


  1. It Provides Support for Transformation

A wide range of corporate clients seeks to hire Hanold Associates. The common denominator is the fact that they tend to be undergoing a transition or transformation of one kind or another.


Mr. Hanold points out that the concept of “transformation” can mean different things to different companies. For example, one client company might be expanding its staff, scaling up production, or seeking out new markets.

Other clients may turn to Hanold Associates because of necessary restructuring in response to some level of dysfunction or inefficiency. Such a client will have realized that hiring a new HR executive search firm can serve as a catalyst. This can lead to thoroughgoing change that will give the organization the best chance of future success.


  1. It Turns Recruiting into an Art

Hanold Associates centers its initial recruiting efforts using what its CEO defines as an “artful” approach. The first communication with a potential candidate is an email. It seeks precise information about the reason for the contact, the name and location of the potential employer, and the nature of the position under discussion.

Email has largely replaced phone conversation as the preliminary contact point with potential candidates. Most professionals have gravitated to the former as a more effective communication and time-management tool.

And in many instances, Hanold Associates will reach out to well-established HR professionals. This facilitates contacts among potential new candidates.


  1. It Works in the True Best Interests of Clients

Pressed for comment about why a potential client should choose to work with his firm, Jason Hanold emphasized his team’s reputation among other top-level HR recruiters. It is known as being a transparent, easy-to-work-with, client-focused company that places human relationships at the center of any transaction.

He believes that his team members’ work reflects their constant concern not only to close a deal, but to enhance the lives of every client firm and job candidate they interact with, their genuine interest in their clients and candidates, and their desire to help these partners to achieve the best possible results.


This Is Why Empathy Is An Essential Quality for Leaders

One of the most essential qualities for becoming successful in today’s business world is empathy. In fact, many business publications have placed empathy at the top of their lists of the most in-demand “soft” skills for front-line employees, managers, and executives in any type of organization.

In an October 2017 article in Inc. magazine, a business expert noted that even at the elementary-school level, instructors are focusing on an essential group of four “C’s” that draw on empathy-connected skills: communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Some may balk at categorizing empathy as a “soft” skill because they find that the term can carry a dismissive connotation. Empathy, in their view, is a needed “hard” skill, without which leaders and their teams can neither communicate effectively nor function well.


What Is Empathy?

Experts tend to define empathy as a feeling of deep understanding of the feelings, insights, and life stories of other people and, to a great extent, an ability to personally identify with their struggles, challenges, joys, and successes.

When a leader, team, and a company can focus on developing empathy from the sales floor to the C suite, they can open up new markets and gain access to new customers and opportunities.

new hire

If a company fails to see its own products and services through the eyes of its customers, then those customers will be apt to take their business elsewhere.

In the same way, a lack of insight into what one’s competitors think about a shared market sector can lead to missed opportunities for expansion—and sometimes even extinction. (Think about the case in which Netflix knocked Blockbuster right out of the in-home movie market.)



It pays to dedicate time and effort to listening to customers, including those who complain or who offer information a company may find it difficult to hear. It’s possible that these “problem” customers have information that could be useful in some way to the continued growth and competitive strength of a company.

Advocates of managing by “walking around” have always stressed this approach: When a leader regularly experiences the world from the point of view of his or her front-line staff, vendors, and customers, the wealth of new perspectives gained can prove to be transformative, both strategically and financially.

Experts advise practicing active listening in order to truly understand what others are saying and feeling. Focus your attention on a person’s words, expressions, posture, and tone of voice. Listen without interruption or distraction, and demonstrate a sincere interest in a person’s life, unique experiences, and ideas.



Experts emphasize that leaders need to determine exactly why a customer is buying a product. That reason—what the customer is actually expecting the product to do—may be very different from the original purpose for which it was intended.

What are customers really buying when they purchase an insurance policy? A sense of security. What are they buying when they spend their money on cosmetics? A sense of personal fulfillment. How about when they buy a family vacation? A feeling of closeness to those they love.

Empathy is also a valuable component of the employee experience. By seeing things from a coworker’s point of view, an employee or manager will be better able to make compromises and develop innovative solutions that make everyone involved a winner.


Team Building

And when managers empathize with their employees and understand how they genuinely want to be treated in the workplace, they will be better able to attract, hire, train, and retain top talent. Additionally, employees who feel that management and coworkers understand and appreciate what they do tend to demonstrate higher levels of productivity.

The Inc. article noted that empathy builds stronger, more creative, and more effective teams. A team whose members can each respectfully and nonjudgmentally offer a forceful argument for a case, and where each member can allow himself or herself to feel vulnerable and to give and receive candid constructive feedback, is a high-functioning team whose bonds are anchored in trust.


As human beings, we forge these bonds of trust by being able to count on certain types of behavior and responses from others. This predictability grows in part from the ability to empathize with one another.

A manager who is fortunate enough to lead such a team is well-positioned to manage conflict in a positive way and to get the most cooperation from that team, individually and collectively.

The article goes on to say that when CEOs prepare for an important meeting with a level of empathy that helps them to understand the participants’ motivations, goals, hopes, and fears, they will be able to better anticipate the outcome of the meeting in advance. In this way, CEOs who are able to empathize will be in a better position to achieve the most important goals in a negotiation.


Developing Empathy

Some leaders may wonder whether they are able to develop the needed degree of empathy to be as effective as they’d like to be. A 2016 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article is reassuring on that point: Empathy can be learned.

A few beginning strategies on how to develop your skills of active, empathetic listening, based on the HBR piece: make a conscious effort to listen to others and to ask questions; reserve judgment and allow others to fully express their opinions; minimize distractions and stop trying to multi-task when engaged in conversation; and try to stop nagging thoughts about matters such as deadlines in order to devote your full attention to the people in front of you.


10 Tips on How to Fire an Employee the Right Way

Every entrepreneur looks forward to the times when the team exceeds expectations, the business flourishes, and the whole staff can celebrate its successes together.

Then there is an issue no one wants to deal with: having to tell an employee that his or her performance just isn’t making the grade, and that separation from the company has become necessary.

That’s why being prepared for these difficult—and unavoidably emotional—conversations is such an important part of any business leader’s skill set.

The following represents a cross-section of consensus opinions, derived from experts across the country, on the most appropriate, professional, and ultimately the most helpful ways to sit down with an employee to share the unwelcome news that he or she is being fired.

Keep in mind that state laws, union and other contracts, and human resources policies on both hiring and firing in the workplace can vary widely, and that no general article can address specific legal or contractual issues. So before undertaking any course of action that could lead to termination of an employee, consult a qualified attorney knowledgeable about the laws and regulations that apply to your area, to any labor-management contracts that are in place, and to your type of organization.


  1. Have your documentation in place.

Except in a few cases of truly egregious missteps or outright criminal behavior, firing someone should not be an immediate decision. Before you fire an employee, review the documentation of his or her poor performance. Ideally, you will have recorded the details of serious conversations and warnings about their performance in which you have made clear both the conditions that will lead to continued employment, and those that will lead to termination.

While most employees naturally feel shock and disbelief when told they will be let go, one of your key responsibilities as a leader is to make sure that no termination comes as a true surprise.


  1. Don’t waffle.

Let’s assume that you’ve pursued all applicable methods to help a poorly performing employee improve his or her performance, and that you’ve reached a point when you, your HR professionals, and your legal counsel are confident you have just cause to terminate the person’s employment with your company, and that now is the time to do so.



In that case, don’t vacillate or hesitate; this will only make a bad situation worse, and can set a bad example for staff who are performing well.


  1. Prepare for a difficult conversation.

Remember that you are about to deliver a blow that will deprive a person of his or her livelihood, and very likely challenge his or her self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.

Prepare for such a reaction by having tissues close at hand, and be certain to have a witness attend the entire termination meeting, so that you are ready to defend yourself in the case of any later retaliatory actions on the employee’s part. This witness will ideally be a top-level member of your HR team. (It should go without saying that this meeting should be in person; never fire someone over the phone or via email.)


  1. Be direct.

When you let an employee know that he is being fired, keep the conversation direct, succinct, and to the point. Don’t allow yourself to be swept into the employee’s emotional turmoil. Your tone, words, and demeanor should be calm and professional, not angry, accusatory, or vindictive.


  1. Show humanity.

The point above isn’t to say that you shouldn’t show genuine human compassion and empathy—you should. Just remember that too much of a display of emotion from you, whether positive or negative, is neither appropriate nor helpful for anyone involved at this point.


  1. Use “I’m sorry” with caution.

For you as the employer to apologize is not appropriate, and simply muddies the waters regarding where the responsibility for the firing lies. You may simply want to say something like, “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out,” which demonstrates empathy and kindness, but keeps the burden of responsibility on the employee.


  1. Keep explanations brief.

Inform the employee that she is being terminated “for cause.” Avoid too much detail about the reasons for termination, since this will help forestall arguments from the employee. Again, if you have already documented conversations regarding poor performance, the employee should know the reasons for the termination.


If the employee begins to argue, or becomes defensive, simply reiterate that she did not fulfill the goals for performance improvement you had previously discussed, and that your decision is final in the matter.


  1. Discuss any ongoing benefits.

Inform the employee of the terms and amount of any severance pay that will be coming to her, and of any other benefits to which she will be entitled after she leaves the job.

Additionally, let her know what you’ll be prepared to report to any future potential employers who contact you about her employment with you. This is a particular area about which you will need to have spoken ahead of time with an attorney skilled in employment matters. Follow the attorney’s advice about the precise wording of any statements on this subject.

If you genuinely consider the employee to be a good person with potential, you can offer to act as a positive reference to potential future employers regarding the capabilities she brought to your team.


  1. Help make the last day easier.

Tell the employee when she will be expected to leave the worksite, and how she can access her personal belongings.

Make sure to minimize office drama by scheduling a termination meeting at the close of a business day, preferably on the last work day of the week. If you are comfortable doing so, you can extend additional compassion to the employee by offering to walk with him to his desk and by allowing him to leave with other staff as if you were all concluding a normal workday together.


  1. Look to the future—and the bigger picture.

Remember that the decision to fire an employee is one you’ll sometimes need to make in order to fulfill the larger needs of your company, its stakeholders, and its other employees. It may even turn out that letting go of an employee who is not able to perform well may open up new doors for him or her in a job that’s a much better fit.

9 Important Ways CEOs Can Help to Empower Employees

CEOs typically want their employees to feel knowledgeable and capable enough to initiate innovative solutions to problems and make good decisions in the best interests of the company and its customers.

Experts point out that, when implemented thoughtfully and strategically, plans to empower employees can prove to be widely successful in raising a company’s productivity, effectiveness, and ability to retain new hires. In fact, providing increasing opportunities for employees to discover their own strengths and become comfortable in their roles can go a long way toward fostering a climate of motivation and workplace satisfaction.


The following are a few techniques that employers can put in place to create a workplace that establishes staff empowerment as a central value:


  1. Communicate a vision

It is the responsibility of the person in charge to ensure that staff understand their jobs, have the resources they need to do them, and remain focused. Employees should have an explicit definition of exactly what the company wants them to accomplish, as well as what parts they play in the overall plan.

When employees understand the goal, they are more likely to come up with their own appropriate and innovative ways to reach it.


  1. Show trust

When you demonstrate confidence and trust in your employees, they, in turn, will more likely trust you. Part of showing trust involves letting go of micromanagement. This means letting employees know what is expected of a project, then allowing them to do it using their own unique skills, personalities, and creativity.


  1. Ask for—and accept—the truth

Instead of leading a conversation into the channels that present the fewest problems for management, encourage employees to always share their honest opinions. When they do so, listen carefully to glean potentially valuable information about procedures and processes that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.



  1. Encourage constant learning

An employee who learns a new skill or incorporates a new idea into his or her repertoire is a benefit to coworkers, customers, and the company as a whole. For that reason, CEOs should consider supporting a continuing education program for staff, inside or outside the office.

Even those companies unable to provide ongoing financial subsidies for employees’ continuing education efforts should take every opportunity to provide enough flexibility in scheduling that attending outside classes becomes less of a burden.


  1. Support independent personal growth opportunities

Even a personal growth class that seemingly has nothing to do with work can be beneficial to the workplace.

If you allow an employee the flexibility to do things like perform in a musical theater production, take a language class, or attend a regular event at a child’s school, for example, you will likely find that the employee’s morale and dedication to the company increase. In the process, the employee may even gain renewed self-confidence or new expertise that is of value to the company.

One research project showed that when employees were happier in their jobs, their productivity increased by 12 percent.


  1. Delegate authority

When you delegate tasks, it gives employees opportunities to stretch and develop their capabilities. But to ensure that your staff is willing and able to take ownership of problems and solve them independently, it’s important to delegate authority and credit as well.

Ask employees to take turns leading key meetings and events. Make sure to arrange opportunities for employees to step up into leadership roles occasionally, and help them become recognized as important people in the organization to customers, vendors, and colleagues.


  1. Define boundaries generously

Yes, you should give employees the freedom to act independently whenever possible and make decisions on their own, but make sure to do so within established boundaries. It may seem surprising, but this will help employees to feel both empowered and appropriately supported.


Managers should start by defining early on the boundaries in which employees can act. For example, letting employees know that they can spend a certain percentage of the budget on taking care of customer service issues without involving management can create a situation where everyone wins. The customer gets faster satisfaction, staff members feel valued and respected, and managers need to devote less time to solving minor crises.


  1. Understand and forgive mistakes

In the movie Rising Sun, based on Michael Crichton’s thriller, the character portrayed by Sean Connery attributes this saying to traditional Japanese culture: “Fix the problem, not the blame.”

When employees grow anxious that they will be blamed for something, they may hesitate to admit to anything less than perfection. In this unhealthy scenario, no one— not even the manager—has the opportunity to learn anything new.

It has become a truism in Silicon Valley that failure is a positive, and that teams that never make mistakes are less likely to achieve major goals.

When managers mete out punishment for mistakes, they send the message that they want to see overly cautious behavior from their employees.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, in creating an atmosphere of acceptance of mistakes, it’s still vital to distinguish ordinary mistakes that can become learning opportunities from derelictions of mission-critical duties. For example, while it is appropriate to forgive the testing of a product that turns out to be less-than-perfect, it is not appropriate to lie about the product’s strengths and weaknesses in a public forum.


  1. Get to know employees

Ask employees about personal milestones, be accessible, and be ready to assist in times of crisis whenever possible.

Talking casually with employees during breaks and lunch hours, in effect getting to know about them and their families and personal concerns, not only helps keep the workplace atmosphere more upbeat, but it fosters an image of a manager as a leader to be trusted.