New Ideas to Retaining Employees with Jeff Hay at RDI Technologies

Fast growth requires you to be great in many aspects of the business. One area that has many benefits is retaining employees. Your employees have relationships with your clients. Your employees have the skills and experience that drives the business forward. It hurts all areas of the business when they leave, especially the bottom line. Today’s guest is Jeff Hay, founder of RDI Technologies. RDI was #33 on the 2019 Inc 500 list. Jeff gives you new ideas to improve employee retention. Discover how you can add new ways to improve employee retention.

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Jeff Hay: The Transcript

Target Audience: Jeff is the CEO of RDI Technologies. He thrives on creating innovative products that disrupt industries and help customers see things in a whole new way. He believes that cameras are the sensor of the future. Since starting RDI, he has created and patented multiple methods for using camera technology to measure and visualize motion that are integral to RDI’s products. In addition to research, Jeff also manages the development team at RDI and oversees all product development. 

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Jeff Hay
There was always success at the end. Way to make people successful. And it was a really important lesson for me to be able to watch him and help employees grow and become successful within the organization. I really learned a lot from that experience and took that as something that I think is as important to be able to do.

[00:00:26].220] – Gene Hammett
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs. The fastest growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett and I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow.

[00:00:43].290] – Gene Hammett
Do you think about your employees every day? every night you lose sleep about how do you develop them so that they don’t leave the company. Well what we’re talking about today is turnover or employee retention employee retention is one of the key factors that you want to be measuring at all times you want to know where you stand. You want to make sure that you create the right experience for your employees because they are so valuable to the company moving forward. If you lose that talent or that knowledge it really is hard to replace it. It could take you up to six months. Many research standards say now what we’re going to talk about today is some really some interesting factors around employee retention. I have with me one company that put a lot of emphasis on this.

[00:01:30].290] – Gene Hammett
They do a lot of things right and really is going to be exciting to share this with you. Today we’re talking with Jeff Hay. He’s the founder of RDI technologies that create some specialty form video that allows you to measure the movement. He’s going to tell you more about that. But what we tell what I want to tell you about Jeff is he really puts his employees first. He understands how important they are to the overall growth of the company. And he really makes an intentional effort to not only grow them from within grow their skill sets grow their confidence and their courage but also to grow them the value that they are inside the company. And that really does mean that he’s got a long healthy retention rate that you want to look at and model from. So RDI Technologies was number 33 on the 2019 Inc list as and as you know I only interview the leaders from the INC 500.

[00:02:26].100] – Gene Hammett
They grew at just over 6000 percent a little over 7 million in revenue and 2000 18. So that really is an exciting company to to talk to and I really appreciate you being here to tune in to more retention or increased retention with Jeff Hay.

[00:02:45].070] – Gene Hammett
Before you run I really want to remind you that if you haven’t already applied to be a part of the next Growth Think Tank live and you want to make sure you go to there’s some more information on there. You can’t just pay your money and get in. You have to be a fast growing company. You’ve got to be a founder CEO or COO you’ve got to really truly want to evolve and grow as a leader. Those are the requirements. If you think you would be a good fit for you it’s a small intimate group of people that are getting together we do something really amazing. We’ve got four of these over the next year or so every quarter we can be doing something different. So I look forward to having you check out Now here’s the interview with Jeff.

[00:03:33].050] – Gene Hammett
Hi Jeff, how are you?

[00:03:33].480] – Jeff Hay
I’m good. How are you doing Gene?

[00:03:36].160] – Gene Hammett
I’m great. Glad to have you here at Growth Think Tank. I already introduced the audience to you a little bit but I want you to give me a chance to tell us about RDI technology so where did that idea of this business come from.

[00:03:49].150] – Jeff Hay
Yeah so already I was founded in 2013. So we’re a computer vision company. So some of the early work was done while I was at the university. And so I was at the University working on some technology that would ultimately be piggybacked off of to create what we are selling now. And so from there I was introduced to some people in industry and you started the company to bring the technology out of the university and sort of get into companies hands.

[00:04:25].530] – Gene Hammett
Well tell us exactly what it is. Because it is a very interesting way you use video.

[00:04:31].680] – Jeff Hay
Sure. Yeah. So we have a an underpinning technology called Motion amplification. So what we do is we take normal video and we make all the motions that are in a video visible by the user. So things like a motor that you can’t see move you can actually increase our motion in the video and see how things are moving in that video. Users take that to their facility for example a factory floor. Anything that has a motor. And they use that to diagnose machinery and see what’s to what’s going on. So for example unplanned downtime is much more expensive than planned downtime. So if they can diagnose a machine know how it’s behaving and then implement a fix for when they have a planned downtime in the facility then they can implement those fixes when when the machines are already online.

[00:05:24].320] – Gene Hammett
Well that gives us a pretty good idea of what the the the actual business is. You have about twenty six employees about right. Yeah that’s right. Currently we’re at 26. And you made it to thirty third on the 2019 Inc list which I’m always impressed. I mean that’s six thousand four hundred ninety three percent for audience is kind of wondering like how is that even possible with twenty six employees. What would you say.

[00:05:53].180] – Jeff Hay
Well I would say a lot of a lot of hard work. There’s always a little bit of luck in there but you know we’ve got a really good dedicated team that at our really strive to create a good product and really work with a great customer base.

[00:06:07].860] – Gene Hammett
I talked to a lot of Inc level leaders. I mean I only interview ink five hundred on this show but I talked to a lot of ink five thousand and they’re more proud of their retention numbers or the fact that their turnover so low than they are of their growth rate is that kind of the same camp you’re in.

[00:06:26].970] – Jeff Hay
Yeah I mean for for us we’ve usually think we’ve got three pillars for our organization and one of those are our employees. So really they’re the lifeblood of the company and their what. What makes it work and on a day to day basis.

[00:06:43].560] – Gene Hammett
What are those other two pillars?

[00:06:44].880] – Jeff Hay
Customer and products. So we really strive to create the best custom products for our customers and stay on the cutting edge the forefront of where the technology we’re in. And then also customers. So of course customers are key and they all feed on themselves.

[00:07:03].630] – Gene Hammett
Now I ask this a lot I don’t ask it as much anymore because I kind of heard it so many times but as a leader what’s more important your team and employees or the customers?

[00:07:16].560] – Jeff Hay
I don’t know that you can have one that’s more important than the other I think both are both are critical to success. You know I think a good team to be able to implement you know you to be able to implement you know what it is you’re trying to do. But of course you have to have the customers there to be able to buy your product. And then we we we leverage our customers quite a bit for feedback as well. So we pride ourselves on communicating with the customer staying in touch with the customer and being involved with them so we understand what what product they need and what kind of needs we need to meet for them.

[00:07:50].310] – Gene Hammett
Well let’s dive right into this whole retention so why would you put so much effort and time and money into retaining your employees as you have.

[00:07:59].280] – Jeff Hay
Yeah. So you know the employees for firm for me and for organization I think are what what makes it what makes it tick. I think that they are the you know the piece that is able to fulfill the the fulfill essentially the customer needs and be able to take our product you know and get it get to where it needs to be. So whether that is just simply customer support you know being able to interface with our customer or making sure that the product itself is is just to spec into standards.

[00:08:36].720] – Gene Hammett
How do you track the actual turnover rate or retention or is you just got a really good track record of keeping the same people for a long period time.

[00:08:46].640] – Jeff Hay
Sure. I think we have a really good record of keeping people for a long time and we a small enough company with twenty six employees that you know it’s if someone if someone were to go you know that’s it’s easily noticed you know and so. That’s a piece to it that we like to make sure that not only is the employee a good fit for the company but the company is a good fit for the employees as well so there’s a level of understanding you know when an employee comes in they know what to expect.

[00:09:19].570] – Gene Hammett
Now I’d love to know a little bit more about how you do that. How is the company a good fit for that employee.

[00:09:25].400] – Jeff Hay
Yeah. So we when we bring someone in usually there’s there’s several layers to meeting some day you know every every person that comes into our organization meets with a large variety people within the organization. They meet with a management team. The entire management team. And then they they you know kind of filter through different groups within the organization to get an understanding of what what the company is like you know what it would be like to work for the company. One thing that I like about the hiring process in particular is putting someone who might be coming to join us in front of you know current employees to let them ask questions. You know I think it’s it’s one thing when you’re going through a round of hiring to tell someone what it’s like to work at our organization but it’s another thing for them to be able to just hear it straight from from the employee.

[00:10:25].250] – Gene Hammett
And when you think about the core strategies of keeping that retention rate you know right where you want it what are those.

[00:10:34].490] – Gene Hammett
I think it’s you know keeping an employee engaged in and making sure they’re not only are they meeting their goals for the company but also they’re meeting growth you know allowing them have to have personal growth with an organization and making sure that their their job satisfaction or what they’re doing is is engaging them in a way that that lets them perform at a level that at that they want to perform at and that’s good for the organization.

[00:11:08].340] – Gene Hammett
You know I’m smiling when I hear you say this. This personal growth element because I think it seems like it’s a natural thing to do but I don’t think as many companies do a very good job of tuning into how that individual person wants to grow while they’re working there. Is there something you guys do that you feel like allows you to do that better.

[00:11:27].050] – Jeff Hay
Well I mean I think sometimes it’s just as simple as talking to people you know just engaging them and listening to them. You know when it’s kind of interesting when I always feel like you just talk to people they’ll tell you you know sort of things that you you need to hear or what they’re trying to say. You know it’s just a matter of listening. So sometimes it’s just for me it’s as simple as touching base with people and having conversations with them to to better understand where they are. And sometimes even a small communication can go a long way into matching expectations or or adjusting something along the way to increase somebody’s satisfaction.

[00:12:09].170] – Gene Hammett
Do you have a regular cadence of that or some kind of rhythm that you would share with us that you feel like works for your company.

[00:12:15].050] – Jeff Hay
Well I mean everybody that within our organization sort of that that’s in charge you know managers people have their own own way of handling it but on a on a general basis we the management team itself touches base with with how things are going with people to get you know sort of a pulse on that to make sure also that there aren’t areas that that hey you know this employee is indicated to me that they have more interest in doing this over here and so the the sort of managers can talk and and help move move things around if need be.

[00:12:52].940] – Jeff Hay
Sometimes you know you if just talking with someone you learn that they might have a of an interest moving horizontally with an organization and just doing something a little bit different and if if you were planning to hire somebody for that. That’s right. You know it’s just as easy to have. To adjust your hire your hiring position and move someone over to get a tick to satisfy that role and then you’ve also had been able to increase their job satisfaction because they’re doing something they’re more interested in.

[00:13:25].310] – Gene Hammett
I hear a lot of leaders kind of complain about. Well I’m so focused on so many other things and I have I don’t have time for touching base kind of conversations as one on ones that are I don’t if they’re scheduled or unscheduled when you guys make time for them or you do them weekly monthly quarterly.

[00:13:45].830] – Jeff Hay
You know what I would say it’s more of a more of like a monthly thing. It depends if we’re trying something new it might be you know on a more you know weekly weekly basis. You know I you know I personally am in favor of having specific stand up meetings that that you do on a regular basis with certain employees just to make sure there’s you know there’s nothing you know on the forefront just to be able to get a pulse on what’s going on. You know in terms of suggesting you don’t have the time.

[00:14:20].180] – Jeff Hay
You know I again you know we kind of come back to the the pillar you know the employees are just the pillar of the company and so they are just as valuable in my opinion as the as the customers. And so I think for someone who would be customer focused and you know they would you know an answer or a phone call from an important customer is a customer you know late at night or on a weekend. You know I don’t know why you wouldn’t extend that also for your employees.

[00:14:48].470] – Commentary
Let me pause there for a second because Jeff talked about many interviews. Now I know that you probably have some structure for your interviews but if you really want the best employees you want to make sure you have that structure down then and you actually know how to follow it every time. So you can find out where the breakdowns are. I had interview with Ben Wright on the show a few weeks ago or maybe months ago now when you’re listening to this and Ben talked about only hiring tens and so you can find that interview. It’s in July of 2019 if you want to find out more about the interview process. We can go right there. Now back to the interview.

[00:15:24].280] – Gene Hammett
I totally agree with you. When you think about mistakes that you’ve made in this journey anything come to mind that you’re willing to share with us today.

[00:15:33].970] – Jeff Hay
Well you know just on this theme of retaining employees and employees I think you know we went through. We are going through a stage of rapid growth and I think that it is really easy to fall into the trap of thinking you just need to get bodies. You just need to hire people to be able to fulfill certain needs. And I think sometimes it’s important to just you know put on the brakes and say hey let’s let’s make sure we get the right person in here for this position and make sure we understand what that need is.

[00:16:10].830] – Jeff Hay
You know the people that you hire now especially for a company like us where we’re growing at twenty six employees now. The people we hire are that are the future leaders of our of our company. You know they grow and take leadership positions and I think you always have to keep that keep that in mind when you when you get this process.

[00:16:31].910] – Commentary
Get the right person. That’s a really big easy statement to say yes of course you want to hire the right person. Of course you want the right skills the right talent the right culture fit. But how do we do that at scale when we have to. Well I will tell you that you don’t want to bend your rules you don’t want to hire someone just because you need to fill that position because it will cost you more money in the long run. It’ll cost you frustration. It will cost you a wasted training time and will cost you and possibly customers will just so many things it will cost you. So you want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to get the right people. I had a great conversation with Horst Schulze say at one of my leadership intensive events a few weeks ago and he he mentioned something I want to share back with you Horst is a co-founder of Ritz Carlton and he talked about letting go people. And the question came up was. Do you know when to let someone go. Now here’s the simple answer. Letting someone go really comes down to this. If they came into your office tomorrow and they said that they no longer want to work for the company would that upset you if it doesn’t upset you then it’s probably not the right person they’re not in the right role and really you need to think about should you let that person stay at the company because not only want to hire the right people. You want to keep the right people because if you’re growing fast you really need everyone firing altogether aligned together. So I share that with you it’s just a small little tidbit to help you be the best leader you can be. Back to the interview with Jeff.

[00:18:12].580] – Gene Hammett
I love the fact that you brought this up because you know just hiring bodies. I think some people think oh well I think they can do the job but most fast growing companies really put a high emphasis on it’s got to be the right fit. It’s really rather kind of take our time then just put some anybody in that position. So it sounds like you’re in the same agreement with that.

[00:18:36].550] – Jeff Hay
Yeah I do. You know you get the right person in for that position and and let that get out of their way you know get out of the way and let them let them do their own thing. And you know you’ve you’ve solved the problem as opposed to creating any uncommon approaches you’ve had that you can share with us. So we we do training for our product on a regular basis. One of the things that we do with our employees. So we’ll have a group maybe twice a month come through the train on our product and we take them out to dinner one night.

[00:19:12].010] – Jeff Hay
We always encourage and invite anybody who’s in the office to come to dinner with us and so on a regular basis we have people take us up on that. I think that that’s become a very popular thing with our. Within our organization. I I think that it it’s really nice to be able to create a community but it also allows our customers to talk to our employees and our employees to talk to our customers. I think that the customer feedback loop is really important. And I really noticed how important that is also to employees to be able to speak to our customers.

[00:19:51].430] – Jeff Hay
I for example do a lot of conferences. I’ll go to a lot of conferences and I hear a lot of people talk about our product. You know get excited about our product. People like using using our product and sometimes you know it’s it’s easy forget that you get used to hearing that that your employees don’t often hear that as well you know sort of that feedback the excitement that the customers hear when they use the product. So getting our employees in front of our customers I think is always a good thing.

[00:20:22].270] – Gene Hammett
That sounds like it has a lot of advantages to it other than you’ve got community part of it. You’ve got that feedback loop but you also have hearing these great stories that they’re really making a difference with with the product and the work that you’re doing which always helps.

[00:20:36].430] – Jeff Hay
Yeah. Always it’s always first interesting conversations. You know I’ll be talking to somebody and they’ll say hey I was talking to so-and-so and they were telling me how they use our product. And isn’t this interesting and then you know sometimes that that sort of small little thing takes a life of its own.

[00:20:50].950] – Gene Hammett
The price of a few meals inviting these employees probably really pays off creating the kind of culture that you want in the company.

[00:20:59].280] – Jeff Hay
Yeah. It’s become something that I think really people people really enjoy the project.

[00:21:03].420] – Gene Hammett
Oh I love to have to wrap this up with you know. As leaders we all have these defining moments that really push us and and kind of challenge us. Is there anything that you can share with us that that you have gone through Jeff and your journey of fast growth.

[00:21:21].430] – Jeff Hay
Sure. Yeah. So if this is actually something that that occurred to me not while I was at this company but in a management role I when I was going through college I worked at a Fortune management at a parcel delivery service and I had a manager there that I really respected and learned a lot from. And you know he had this really uncanny ability of taking employees that that were struggling and taking it upon himself to make make them a success story. And and I watched him you know as you know take take on this responsibility and he had this philosophy that that you know there was always success at the end a way to make people successful.

[00:22:17].300] – Jeff Hay
And it was a really important really important lesson for me to be able to watch him and help employees grow and become successful within the organization. I really really learned a lot from that experience and took that as something that I think is as important to be able to be able to do.

[00:22:37].620] – Gene Hammett
Is there anything specific you can remember that you can share with us about creating a moment where your employees are a success story.

[00:22:46].290] – Jeff Hay
Well yeah I mean I you know I’ve had spoken with employees before where you know they’ve not been not been happy necessarily with what they’re doing. I think it again comes back to that fulfillment. And you know it was interesting because a simple conversation with a few other people within the organization to suggest hey you know are there are there things that this person can be doing that that you that you have a need for. And there were you know and so this was something that that for for that employee. This was a really big deal to them. You know this was a daily a daily issue for them being able to come to work and and feel engaged and feel happy with what they were doing.

[00:23:36].300] – Jeff Hay
And but it was really just you know to solve that problem is really a simple conversation with someone else within the organization to find out hey you know there’s a need over here. Maybe we can fulfill that and have a win win. And we were able to do that.

[00:23:50].390] – Gene Hammett
Well Jeff I really appreciate you taking your time to share some insights and tell us a little bit about RTI technologies and I appreciate you being here on Growth Think Tank

[00:23:59].150] – Jeff Hay
Yeah. Thank you Gene.

[00:24:00].720] – Gene Hammett
What a great fantastic interview I really appreciate. So the details that Jeff shared with us about how do you retain these employees. I really love the fact that he talked about the specifics of inviting employees along with these customer dinners. They’re coming into town. Employees are going to be there. It really helps many different whereas I really just think this is fantastic because it increases the ability for them to create understand the customers create that feedback loop creates relationships it creates a little bit more of awareness of where the company’s going the impact that it’s making gives them some new ideas about new products and allows them to really serve them better. So there’s many factors of why you want invite these employees to dinner. So don’t worry about the cost of that. It really pays off in spades when you have the right kind of mixture together. Well I really appreciate you being a part of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage. I’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


GTT Featuring Jeff Hay



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