Finding your ideal team member is a lot like finding your Ideal Client. It requires a degree of time, effort and money to identify who they are, but the return on that investment is substantial.
Finding A-Players is not a quick process, and nor should it be. It requires real effort, but the payoff is huge. In fact, it’s really important that your recruitment process is:
If not, you risk bringing someone into the company who might have the necessary skills and experience for the role, but is a bad fit for your business and does not align with your values.
Bringing someone into your business based on skill and ability alone without considering whether they’re a cultural or holistic fit can have consequences that negatively impacts your entire team and the business you’ve worked so hard to create.
Company culture is key
Even though you may well have a superstar person who will hit all their targets, they may not fit in with your company culture and might not always be an agreeable person to work with.
It might be tempting to ignore this for now and hire the most experienced candidates (because they’ll get the job done!), but by mishiring you will eventually have to rehire. Not only will this have significant financial implications, but huge amounts of resources will have been wasted on training, onboarding and setting them up whilst you have to go back through the recruitment process and are also, meanwhile, likely to be one person down in terms of capacity.
The impact wrong-fit employees can have on the rest of the team is also not to be overlooked. How they add to or subtract from team morale also has financial implications because it could mean that other team members or entire departments are demotivated and not performing to the standard you expect.
How can we ensure that we’re hiring the right people?
Before you even begin the hiring process, everyone on the recruitment or managerial team needs to be on the same page. There should be an understanding of what happens when you hire badly, as well as alignment with what your core company values are.
Let’s break that process down into the three key elements you need to be considering to find your A-Player.
1. Role specific skills and competency
Naturally, your job advertisement needs to explicitly state the role-specific skills you’re looking for. What do you need the new recruit to be able to do for your business? It’s important that you’re as specific as possible to avoid any confusion further down the line. With all these stages, the more specific you are the tighter your filters, and the more likely you are to sift through the rubble.
- What skills do they need?
- What competencies should they already have?
- What are the specific outcomes their job role should achieve?
- How are you scoring those outcomes so that you know if they are on track, off track or at risk?
2. Company vision
You need to be visible with your company vision from the beginning of the process. As a business leader, the future of your company is your first priority. Hiring a candidate who shows enthusiasm about your vision and wants to be a part of it means you’re less likely to be repeating this process a few years down the line when they are incentivised elsewhere. If somebody isn’t invested in the vision of the company, they have no loyalty to the end goal. An employee that is the right-fit understands that working towards a shared vision not only benefits the business, but also themselves.
3. Company values and culture
By far the most important thing you should be emphasising when advertising positions within your business is your company values, which, when embodied in your team, create your company culture.
What is important to your business – and why?
Your culture and values are more than just posters on the wall. These things should be regularly discussed and reviewed, consistently visible with your team and their alignment regularly checked. They need to be given time and status, with team members being acknowledged when they’re met and held accountable when they’re not.
Don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time detailing exactly what values are most important to your business, what they mean (and what they don’t mean) and what culture you would like to maintain or encourage. At The Business Catalyst, we invested days into really nailing our company values and made a handy infographic that we can use as a template for what we really want to see in our business. It’s a worthwhile and valuable use of time because you can use this as your guideline for the ideal candidate.
In terms of cultural fit, candidates should evidence this in every single job role for which you’re hiring for, from entry-level administrative roles all the way up to your CEOs (remember, A-Players can be found in all roles and pay grades!). Your culture should be consistent throughout the company – if not, you run the risk of disharmony and miscommunication. Don’t forget that culture can also relate to the unspoken behaviours (integrity is, after all, what you do when no-one is watching, CS Lewis), such as the attitudes, the shared ambitions, and the enthusiasm that people have.
When you’re designing the assessments for your candidates to complete as part of your recruitment process, have a think about how doing that assessment could demonstrate to you that the candidate is culturally aligned with your business and its values.
For example, at The Business Catalyst, one of our most important values is accountability. We’re a team who hold ourselves and each other accountable, and this is a crucial part of our company culture which promotes encouraging everyone to be responsible and driven in their roles. If a candidate was prone to being defensive and seeking to pass blame or make excuses, our culture would be threatened. This tells us immediately if someone is a right-fit for our business, regardless of skill level.
It’s also worth considering that A-Players will be looking for a company with a culture that aligns with them. You need to be selling your business to the ideal candidate as well. How do you fit and align with them culturally? For instance, if family is really important to them, how can you show flexibility?
What if there are multiple right-fit candidates?
If you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you must choose between two candidates that match your requirements in terms of skills, experience, and values, there are several resources you can use to help you make a choice.
A great book all about hiring A-Players is Geoff Smart and Randy Street’s highly acclaimed Who: The A Method of Hiring which boasts a 90% success rate. The ‘A Method’ of hiring is a result of a statistical study conducted by the authors to gather information on high performing candidates to use as a guideline for building a team of “A Players”.
It involves creating a scorecard, which identifies a mission that you want the successful candidate to accomplish for the business, listing competencies your ideal candidate should have to allow them to complete said mission, and setting outcomes – specific and measurable goals that the successful candidate will achieve.
Within our successful recruitment process here at The Business Catalyst, the last phone call we have with applicants is a focus interview. At this stage we will pick a cultural competency to really hone in on. This could be a competency the candidate didn’t demonstrate enough during previous interviews – perhaps there were concerns that they were at risk of demonstrating the opposite. It could also be a competency that is especially important to the particular role they are interviewing for. We might ask them to talk more about what it means to them, or tell us about a time they have demonstrated this in previous roles.
What can an A-Player do for your business?
When you’ve dedicated time and effort into your recruitment process and hired your star candidate – someone who can meet skill requirements and embodies your company values – you’ll likely find that they’re able to hit the ground running, meet their targets, motivate team members, and transition into the business seamlessly.
As a business leader, right-fit employees enable you to take back time and freedom because you’re not having to babysit, scramble after them, or put back the pieces of their destruction. It also makes sense to hire people who emulate your company culture and values on an emotional level – we want businesses that are made of happy, fulfilled, and motivated employees. The longevity of that hire is more likely to extend beyond a couple of years if the candidate is right for your company and fits into your culture as well as just being good at what they do.
If you would like to learn more about how you can align your values with your business, we hosted a workshop in February 2023 – you can access the recording here.
If you’d like to talk more about how you can develop a culture of A-Players within your business, book a discovery call with The Business Catalyst. We’ll help you free up time and resources within your processes so you can focus on what really matters.