Retaining Talent: Nicole Cox

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and retaining talent.

Today’s guest is Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer for Decision Toolbox. Cox shares perspectives on retaining talent by empowerment and experimentation.  To hear the entire show, click here.


retaining talentNICOLE COX

Prior to working for Decision Toolbox, Nicole worked in marketing in the real estate and mortgage arenas, when she accidentally fell into recruiting as a profession. Cox became the first virtual recruiter for Decision Toolbox, which now employs 100 people, 100 percent virtually.  


“One moldy apple can spoil the bunch; if someone isn’t a fit, that person can really spread negatively throughout the company.” In identifying the right fit, Cox looks for talent that can bring different perspectives to the table. “It helps to serve clients really well,” says Cox. The same holds true for Decision Toolbox. Cox believes companies can and will become stagnant if there is never any conflict. That’s why Decision Toolbox has experimented with different ideas and is always open to trying new methods. “When I was first put into my leader role, I was kind of a bobble-head. I was afraid to give my opinion until the bosses told me I was hired to share my opinion and not hold back. I’ve never been afraid to give it since,” reflects Cox. 

At Decision Toolbox, they also believe in retaining talent of their own. “The team we have in place, we keep. We really don’t have turnover. We attract great skilled talent because of our model. We are unlike most recruiting companies that turn and burn their recruiters,” says Cox.

One key to retaining talent is ensuring that recruiters always have access to their performance indicators, including client satisfaction scores and candidate scores. The other is a competitive culture that drives stellar performance and supreme client satisfaction.

When it comes to their recruiting process, Cox says, “Hiring managers expect a never-ending talent pool. And while there is a never-ending pool of candidates, there is a very slim pool of ‘A’ players. And they need to be courted.” In many cases the best talent is looking to be challenged. Cox believes this is particularly the case with millennials.  “Money is important, but they need to be challenged,” observes Cox. 

To that end, Cox says, “As a company we believe in continuous improvement and in having access to learning. We provide educational opportunities on a weekly basis via DT University On-Demand. Quarterly, we have calibrations. I provide feedback, and we discuss compensation, goals and how I can help them meet their goals.” And Cox has seen the benefits first hand. She cites a recent situation where someone who seemed likely to fail used their calibration meeting to completely turn the situation around. “Understanding what matters to each individual and what motivates them means a great deal,” says Cox.

The All Staff

Annually, Decision Toolbox will fly the entire virtual staff in to attend the annual All Staff. Cox explains, “We have the team — excluding top management — design the second-half of the day, listing what they want to talk about and then voting to agree on a “Top 4.” 

Another concept they employ as leaders is that of empowerment. According to Cox, “If you empower your employees, if you trust them, they will take (the company) further.”  The companies that empower people and do not micromanage are the ones that tend to be the most successful, she attests. Cox explained how Decision Toolbox is a top-down, bottom-up culture. In one instance, the leadership team gave the staff the reins. Cox says, “We wanted the team to come up with the identity of the company.” In just a few hours, the team had brainstormed a mission statement.

Key Influencers

Cox says her father, a bank executive, was a big influence. My first job was at the bank and so she always showed up on time and worked hard, so as to never embarrass her father. In the process, she learned how to treat people and that every customer is important.

Cox also credits Kim Shepard, COO of Decision Toolbox, who reminds her that “I don’t have to have all the answers” and “to hire really good people, people who are better than you at some things or may be smarter than you,” says Cox.

What are You Reading?

Cox plans to read The Red Tentby Anita Diamant.

How Can People Connect with You?  Via

Remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date:  December 9, 2014