The better we get along, the more free we are to let loose and express our ideas and emotions. It’s hard to be creative in isolation. True creativity requires collaboration…and yes, even conflict and confrontation. – Lyn Heward
Because we spend one third of our lives at work or about 50% of our waking hours, it is important that the people we work with fit well together. This does not mean we are all best friends or always agree, but each person has to interact well with everyone else on the team to succeed in our mission.
That is why the hiring process is so important. At Southwest Michigan First, the hiring process is a team effort and has contributed largely to our success. Our organization was recognized as one of the National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in the past two years, in part, because of our unique recruitment and hiring practices. If your company has ever experienced high turnover or had trouble identifying the right people to take your business to the next level, perhaps you could benefit from reading about what has worked for us.
Here is what we do to find and retain talented people:
1. We trust the senior leaders in the organization to go out and find the talent they need to make their divisions or teams as successful as possible. We do not post job openings on our website or other job boards; we rely on relationships. Our team members are always seeking out talent in the community and looking for the right people to bring diversity to the organization. Once a candidate has been identified, the senior leader or position “sponsor” has an initial meeting with the applicant and one other senior team member to determine requisite skills, experience, education and general fit.
2. If the sponsor feels this candidate should move forward in the process, the candidate will then take the necessary assessments for the position. We typically use two assessments:
- A Talent+ phone interview with our partners at Workforce Strategies, Inc. (WSI) to more scientifically analyze the person’s natural talents and
- A Gallup StrengthsFinder test to understand the person’s top strengths and how they fit with the rest of the team’s profile. Do their strengths match the position? Do their strengths fill in gaps or complement the current team make-up?
I should mention here that there could be additional assessments based on specific job requirements. For example, our communications team also facilitates an in-person writing test with new candidates, but these additional steps are on an “as-required” basis.
3. The sponsor reviews the assessments for continued candidacy and if successful, sets up a team fit interview as the next step. During the team fit interview, all available team members meet with the candidate to simply answer the 1/3 Test: “Would I want to spend one third of my life with this person?”
These interview questions are not based on ability to do the work, trusting that the sponsor has already answered that; these questions are based on fit. It is not about pedigree or experience; it is, as Jim Collins would say, about getting the right people on the bus. For example, a couple of questions you might hear in a team fit interview include:
- What does a perfect Saturday look like to you?
- What TV shows do you watch?
- What was the worst job you ever had?
- Are you a thinker or a doer?
Following this interview, each member of the team reports back to the sponsor with a thumbs up or thumbs down and why. By saying yes to a candidate, that team member is saying they believe this person would be a good fit and that they are personally committed to doing everything in their power to support them and ensure their success in the organization.
4. If a candidate receives full team support to move forward, the last step is meeting with me for one final conversation.
We recognize that this entire hiring process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to full a year. It isn’t about finding just anyone to do the work; it’s about finding the best person to contribute to the team. Although the process may seem highly involved, each step is critically important because the people we work with have the biggest impact on our success both personally and professionally. This process also eliminates corporate politics and animosity between coworkers because we all have a say in selecting each team member. Everybody here was validated by everybody who preceded them. There is still competition for success, but not at the expense of each other.
This hiring process has proven to be good for our mission and bottom line, our mental health, our individual career success and it makes work a lot more fun.
Question: When is the last time you critically reviewed your hiring strategies? Could your organization benefit from a team fit interview?