Have you read ‘Alchemy: The surprising power of ideas that don’t make sense’ by Rory Sutherland?
There is an abbreviated extract around recruitment that I want to share.
‘Imagine you have ten roles to fill, and you ask ten colleagues to each hire one person. They will all try to recruit the best person they can find – that’s the same as asking one person to choose the best ten hires they can find, right? Wrong. Anyone choosing a group of ten people will instinctively deploy a much wider variance than someone hiring one person. The reason being, is that with one person we look for conformity, but with ten people we look for complementarity.
If you were only allowed to eat one food for the rest of your life, the likelihood is you’d choose the potato – mainly because of it’s versatility. However, if you were told you could choose ten foods for the rest of your life, you wouldn’t choose ten different types of potato, you might not even choose potato at all – you would probably choose something more varied.
The same applies to hiring – we are much more likely to take risks hiring ten people than we are hiring one. If you hire ten people, you might expect one or two of them not to work out: you won’t risk your reputation if a couple of people leave. However, if you hire one person who goes rogue, you have visibly failed. Therefore, people hiring one person become needlessly risk averse; they hire potatoes!’
The point I’m trying to make is that the current processes for hiring aren’t sufficient. The risk adverse approach to one hire, means we hire on skills alone and we are more likely to get clones of ourselves.
What can we do to become less risk adverse and certain of the decisions we make? Perhaps we can take some lessons from sport.
At every point in the employee journey, there are opportunities to increase team performance using data. In GB cycling, from the moment a young rider with potential is identified and enters the young rider program, information is gathered and used; to improve future recruitment, enhance & personalise training strategies, and increase performance delivery.
In England Rugby, there is database which holds masses of information; from player well-being, training methods at club level, nutritional plans, and patterns of play that help on-board players into the England team.
In business, we capture huge amounts of data in the recruitment phase and during an employee’s tenure, in the form of performance management reviews. Yet, we don’t tend to feed this information back into the recruitment process to optimise it.
- Which type of personalities worked in which teams?
- Which people got up to speed quickest and why?
- Where did our successful performers come from, which recruitment channels, which organisations?
This information, and the use of data that is collected in each stage of the employee journeys should be used to optimise recruitment.
From a recruitment perspective, there has been much talk recently of looking beyond hiring for skills and capability, to also hire for culture fit or culture addition. However, culture at an organisational level can be fragmented and ill defined. Where culture is really demonstrated is in how individuals in teams behave, communicate, and work together.
In most cases, the current recruitment process is to hire for skill and capability, where the focus is on the individual rather than the team. Organisations don’t use the data they hold to inform choices, and they don’t track the success of new hires or feed the information back into the hiring process.
If someone does not have the capability or skills to do the job; they are less likely to be able to perform. Equally, if someone does not connect with new colleagues, struggles to fit into their team, or does not feel motivated or inspired in their team, they are less likely to perform.
Yet, we interview for one but not the other…
If you don’t hire for team fit by interviewing attributes and characteristics that you want in your team, to supplement or change a team, and if you continue to hire for skills only, you increase the likelihood of team mis-fit, increase the likelihood of subcultures evolving and increase the likelihood of attrition.
If you don’t hire for team fit and continue to hire for skills only, you increase the likelihood of team mis-fit, increase the likelihood of subcultures evolving and increase the likelihood of attrition.
If you’re hiring into a team that is not performing or behaving as you would like, you may not be looking for someone to fit into the team, as much as change the team. Often, this is the hiring of a team lead, however, it could also be a role which is critical to the team but is not the manager of the team. In this case, you are looking at hiring against the profile of someone in your business that you want to replicate.
In summary, the two biggest factors in future performance when hiring are capability and team fit. Make use of the data that exists on your team, to assess people against your current team. Then track how quickly new hires get up to speed and improve the accuracy of your team fit assessments. This will reduce risk and allow you to hire much more than just potatoes!