Tom Gartland, President, North America, Avis Budget Group, remembers when he had a breakthrough about what it took to be a successful sales leader. “It is my belief that the most important job of a leader is to develop individualized plans for each of your top performers and a succession plan for the organization. This is the single most important role I play, I believe, here at Avis Budget Group.”
“I realized that the difference between being a top performer and a manager is ensuring that you have the right people in the right jobs, and that you provide them with the necessary training and coaching in order for them to be successful.
With the right people in the right jobs, your success as a manager becomes almost automatic. And it starts with entry-level sales all the way to the executive vice president of revenue generation because the succession plan is a long history of individualized development over the course of a decade. And what we do today has implications 10 years from now.”
To make this vision a reality, Tom needed to hire more people with the potential to become top performers. The question is how to identify those people who have the skills to succeed during the hiring and selection process? As a leader, you are hiring somebody for a certain position now, but you are also hiring them for the future, a future that is yet unknown.
Tom relates, “Right now, I have ﬁve assistant vice presidents who run Canada and the United States, and each of those people is managing about $1 billion worth of car rental volume. So, if anything were to happen to any of them, I need to know what we would do. Our company’s success is based on my having a clear vision and understanding of who the next leadership team is. Who could be next in line? We need to be absolutely sure that we are putting our people in the right roles along the way, developing their skills so that they’re ready to step up when we go through the promotion process. Right now I’m thinking about one of our very best account managers. She is in her late 20s and has been with us for ﬁve years. The next promotional decision we make for her can have the potential of impacting her career for 20 years. And it could also have an impact on our company for the next 20 years. So we’ve got to get that right. We have to be committed to her. It is our job to identify our most talented individuals and grow the hell out of them.”
“For me, it’s been about being driven myself but also wanting to surround myself with a team of equally driven people. I don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room, but I know how to recognize the smartest people and the best talent, and I know how to position them to succeed. That gives me tremendous satisfaction.”
To identify high-potential employees from day one, Tom makes sure that the organization’s entire sales force of over 600 individuals takes the Caliper Proﬁle, an in-depth pre-employment assessment, and that the results are matched to their performance reviews and their career aspirations.
As Tom explains, “We have Caliper Proﬁles conducted for everyone in our sales organization. That gives us a baseline view of each individual’s potential, strengths, and limitations. When we match to their current performance, we are able to view them from where they are now, how we can help them meet their goals, and where we see them moving next, with an eye even further down the road.”
This is an extremely comprehensive view—and an enormous commitment. It sends a very clear message to everyone inside the organization of how committed Avis Budget Group is to each individual’s success. And it creates an extremely attractive culture for attracting top talent.
“As a leader, you are hiring somebody for a certain position now, but you are also hiring them for the future, a future that is yet unknown.”
“By using the Caliper Proﬁle, we have developed a thorough understanding of the unique qualities that distinguish our top performers. Those unique qualities create a pattern that has become our blueprint for bringing new people into the organization. If a promising applicant shares similar personality dynamics with our top performers, then we become very interested,” Tom explains.
As a result, anyone being hired by Avis Budget Group certainly has a clear understanding of the commitment that is being made to them by the organization. New hires know that they are entering a business that is not only interested in what they can do now, but what they can do in the future. A future that will tap into their real potential.
“When we understand the potential and aspirations of a salesperson we have just hired, then we can work with him or her to make sure that they have a career map that fulﬁlls their goals and ours. It might be to higher-level selling positions. Or, if someone demonstrates leadership capability, we can create a different career path that zigs and zags in and out of management and higher-level selling skills. So we will eventually have a population of people who could ﬁt in my previous role as the executive vice president of sales.”
By fully knowing the talent, motivation, and potential each person brings to the table, Tom is able to ensure that Avis Budget Group has the people it needs to drive the organization forward.