How To Hire The Best: 10 Takeaways From My Conversation with The Business Psychologist, Dr. Sabrina Starling – PART 1 of 2

Have you ever had challenges attracting the right talent?  Perhaps you have made a hire that you thought was the best, only to find…well, not really?  What if you had some insights on hiring the best from a world expert on the subject? 

Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist, is the author of the How to Hire the Best Series, with her latest book in the series coming out on 10/24/2019.  She is also the founder of Tap the Potential which specializes in transforming small businesses into highly profitable, great places to work.  She has worked with business owners across the world to attract top talent for small business, even in rural areas, where her passion for solving these issues was ignited.  Dr. Sabrina had the unique perspective of being a Psychologist that worked in terrible places to work that were run by, you guessed it, Psychologists. She felt this pain and agony personally, and understood the ripple effect that this had on the quality of life.  These experiences, begged her to ask the question…

If we as PhD Psychologists can’t figure out how to create great places to work, how are others going to figure this out?

This experience became a turning point and launched her into a fixation on creating great workplaces for the past 15 years.  She didn’t want others to undergo what she had personally experienced. Through her research and application, she has unlocked keys to making this a reality, especially in the hiring process. I had the honor of interviewing her for this two-part series which presents 10 of the key takeaways from our interview.  In Part One we will explore the first five:

1. You can build a highly profitable great place to work

These two phrases do not always go together, but it is possible. The first step to hiring right, is to identify that these two go hand in hand and can be done.  When we believe this, we will start seeing the ways to bring this to life. This is, in fact, what Dr. Sabrina has dedicated her work toward creating for others. 

2. It takes up to 7 years for an organization to recover from a bad leader

Yes…7 years.  The bully, or narcist, or (Insert bad leader description here) can leave the organizational culture completely damaged. Even when they are gone, the ripples through the organization can take up to 7 years to heal (Dr. Sabrina mentioned it can be even longer, if the new leadership is not much better).  The scars can be so deep, that the conditioned responses and interactions from that leader live on well beyond their time. This impacts numerous elements, including hiring and retaining employees. Even though leadership has changed, the culture must change as well.

3. You cannot coach a C Player into an A Player

Despite the best attempts from some of the best coaches around, Dr. Sabrina has continuously found that no amount of coaching can move a C Player into an A Player.  This is often not a function of a misfit for a role…it is a function of the fact that a C Player is a C Player, no matter what role they are in. As agonizing as this sounds, there comes a time, when development is not going to happen. A role shift isn’t going to change things, and the long-term cost to the team is massive. This is why getting the hiring right is so critical.  

4. Start with Culture: The core values become the culture of the business

Before getting the hiring right, we must have a culture that retains the right hires. 

Dr. Sabrina starts by asking: “What are the things that make you most proud of your team?”  

Take some time to identify these, because from there we can define our core values and Immutable Laws.  Perhaps you have an Immutable law that is: “No Jerks allowed.” This law would not only apply on the employee side, but also to the vendor and client side.  According to Dr. Sabrina, these elements are the foundation for creating culture in your business and the everyday interactions that people have and will have. 

5. Then: Hire the best AND retain the best

Work on Culture (#3) First, and then attract the A Players that are a culture fit. 

“It is bad to have a revolving door of warm bodies.  It is excruciating to have a revolving door of A Players.”  

Dr. Sabrina Starling

If you figure out how to hire the best and haven’t created a culture that keeps them, you will painfully watch the A Players come in and then leave.  Her latest book focuses heavily on the culture component as the foundation, and then dives deep into hiring AND retaining the best. 

Dr. Sabrina’s latest book How To Hire The Best: The Contractor’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Employee comes out on 10/24/19.  Even if you aren’t in construction, be sure to grab your copy HERE.  Check out Tap The Potential and the Profit By Design Podcast HERE.  

Also stay tuned for some exciting Joint virtual programs that 34 Strong and Tap will be offering 2020, including our highly sought after virtual Leading Your Organization From Strengths Program that was offered this year.  If you want to be on the Insider Track for this program…click HERE.

p.s.. even though this edition is targeted at contractors, the bulk of the book really gets into the tactics on culture building…using analogies like culture as foundation (pun intended). 


When you are ready to create the workplace culture that you envisioned, where people are engaged, valued for being valuable and play to their Strengths, 34 Strong will be here to help you make that a reality.

Darren Virassammy is the Co-Founder and COO/CFO of 34 Strong Inc. Darren’s top five strengths are: Achiever, Arranger, Relator, Learner and Responsibility.