If you’re looking to expand your team in 2022, I thought you might benefit from a blog post on some of the pieces of advice I’d give to those who are looking to grow their team based off of the things I’ve learned as a Hiring Manager here in TDP-land.
Because I’ve learnt a lot.
And I’ve evolved a lot.
And the way we recruit has subsequently gone from strength to strength.
… and I’ve been in the interviews where a male candidate couldn’t take his eyes off our Managing Director’s breasts, and then I’ve also been in the interviews where you’re covered from head to toe in goosebumps because you just found your perfect person and you’re hoping [with everything you have] that they say “yes!” to the subsequent job offer.
It’s a most incredible ride, and I subsequently have some reasonably decent advice for anyone who’ll be riding the hiring rollercoaster this year
… seatbelts on, please [😉]
As I’m writing this, TDP is on the verge of some pretty significant growth [which will have associated hires] … and I’m yet again reminded how lucky I am to be in the position of hiring really slowly for x2 particular positions that’ll require the very right hires.
One position in particular? I already knew who I’d like to speak to, and we were able to hop onto a Zoom to be able to talk about a lot of things: life, the pandemic, values, lessons, children, working parenthood, their goals [hopes and dreams], my own goals [hopes and dreams], salary expectations, and then – of course – what this role might look like, and sharing [really honestly] what our dream candidate would look like for this particular role.
After I hopped off that Zoom, this particular human sent an email through thanking me for reinstating her faith in purpose-led businesses … but it was me wanting to say, “thanks for being the kind of candidate who prioritises purpose, and subsequently wants to be involved in this”.
… I’ll be incredibly surprised if we don’t end up with this particular person within this role, and I can’t express this enough: when you hire slow? You’re in the incredibly strong position of not needing to hire with any sense of urgency, and subsequently able to take a longer amount of time than a x1 hour interview to ensure x2 really important things are on the table;
- The position you have going really speaks to that prospective candidate
- That prospective candidate really speaks to you
You can do the associated maths, can’t you? Hiring slow and committing to hiring slow is the reason you’ll end up with a workforce you are so grateful for. They’re talented. They’re diverse. They add to the culture, instead of “fitting in” to it. They are values-aligned, and inspiring, and turn you into a human heart eyes emoji just … being in their presence.
I got off the aforementioned Zoom call with all over goosebumps [just like I have done with almost every hire I have personally been associated with hiring here at TDP], and I can genuinely say that’s the reason why you’ll always wanna do your very best to hire slow.
If it ain’t reciprocal goosebump’ing? … we all deserve better [the candidate even moreso, tbh. We should be inspiring them to want to leave where they currently are, to join us].
Now saying all o’ the above about hiring slow doesn’t mean we’ll always get it right, and yes, TDP has fired before [and it’s genuinely cruel: for all involved. But it’s also that thing where you’re genuinely being “cruel” to be kind: to all involved].
Sometimes? For reasons you genuinely don’t believe will arise in an interview with a person, and the subsequent reference checking, and the assignments they’ll submit as part of your application process [small, I promise], and the lengthy TDP onboarding, and the way we relentlessly [and passionately] mentor a person? … it still won’t work out.
In saying all of the above, I need you to know that hearing the words “hire slow” doesn’t mean months in the making, and on the flipside? Hearing the words “fire fast” doesn’t mean toxic, non-constructive kneejerk reaction-type decisions that literally impact on someone’s life [and livelihood].
So why would a workplace that’s built a reputation for being the “nicest place on the internet” be sitting on a blog today talking to you about the importance of firing fast? Well, because doing so is actually kind.
I passionately believe that a team is only as strong as its weakest link, so the longer you keep someone around who is simply not the right fit [despite a standout induction, all of the right training, ongoing mentoring, regular feedback etc.] … the more that wrong fit pulls the rest of the team down.
Worse than that, though? If you haven’t got the emotional agility to be able to fire fast, the rest of your team see that underperformance [and the associated tolerance of that] … and they’ll feel frustration that leads to a really toxic undercurrent of deep organisational-wide resentment, and they’ll wonder why they bother [and why they have to pick up the Slack for someone who isn’t], and they’ll even question your conviction as an organisational leader.
You don’t want that.
We don’t want that.
And so we fire fast.
When in doubt? #BeMoreRAAFkid
In saying all of the above, I want you to know that I tell every new hire about my RAAF kid upbringing. I tell them about how my Dad was in the air force, and how we were posted to different Australian cities all the time, and how it taught me that anything new in life [new city, new school, new relationship, new friend, new job] takes 12 weeks to get used to.
It’s why TDP makes our probationary periods 6 months instead of the usual 3. Expecting someone to really hit their stride in a new job before the 12 week mark is the equivalent of expecting a RAAF kid to move cities [and schools, and subsequently? Friendship groups] and settle in effective immediately.
That never happened for me growing up, and – actually – I learnt that 12 weeks really was that magical turning point where a new city begun to feel like a home, and a new school begun to feel familiar, and new friendship groups began to feel safer.
Our probationary periods are 6 months, because it allows our little “RAAF kid” the right amount of time to settle in, and within that timeframe? We’re inducting hard, and training hard, and mentoring hard, and catching up 1:1 on a fortnightly basis, and giving a lot of feedback.
We’ll know at the 6 month mark whether or not someone is the right fit for that role and our company [and 99.99% of the time, they are]. I’ve heard an expression in organisational leadership land that suggests that if you think a person isn’t the right fit? You’re usually 6 weeks too late [and I agree with this, and it’s been my personal experience for the couple of times we’ve had to fire a person].
Look for culture add, not culture fit
In every job ad we place for TDP? I’ll always add;
“We’re looking for folx who can *add* to our culture instead of “fitting in”, as we’ve been avoiding culture fit hires for years [we all know culture fit is one of the leading causes of a homogenous, non-diverse workforce]”.
… and it’s true.
I want culture add. I want candidates who will bring new, fresh and different ideas and experiences to my team. I want candidates who are more likely to add something to my team that we don’t currently have, through diverse lived [and professional] experiences.
Wanting all of these things means that we avoid hiring from interviews where we can imagine easy friendship [and after work drinks] with a candidate [easy for us, we’re not really an “after work drinks” kinda agency, ha!] … and we are more interested in the candidates who challenge, and who ask thought-provoking questions, and who see our corporate responsibility efforts and say “have you considered this?” [and it’s almost always a challenge to do better, to unlearn, to relearn, and to do better].
I’ll never ever [in my entire life] forget the time I asked a candidate if he could give us an example of a time he’s had to demonstrate courage [one of our company values is courage] and he said, “to be completely honest with you, as a trans person, every single day of my life and so many interactions within it require courage” [and he went on to describe everyday experiences that are so simple and everyday for me … and require so much courage from his perspective].
It took all of my strength not to leap across the table, hug that beautiful human and say to him, “the job is yours, you incredible human being!”.
P.S the job was his. It was always his. It is Dane. He is that courageous person. And he adds to our culture every GD day that he graces our workplace with his presence, and we are never not grateful to be able to work alongside his creative genius.
If you enjoy my views on organisational leadership and business ownership lessons in general? … I’d gently encourage you to give me a follow over on LinkedIn where I speak to this stuff [and so much more] on the reg.
I’m over here. Connect with me. Say ‘ello.