Monday, December 11, 2017

"How hiring from outside your industry can improve the way you do business"

Sept. 13, 2017 "How hiring from outside your industry can improve the way you do business": Today I found this article by Brian Scudamore in the Globe and Mail:

Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, which includes home-service companies including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

With 250 people duking it out for every corporate job, I get why hiring managers might toss résumés that lack industry experience. But only hiring industry professionals can do your company more harm than good – it limits innovation and slows growth.

There’s nothing revolutionary about doing things the same way. To keep pushing forward, you need to let new ideas in – even if they come from unexpected places. That’s why we make an effort to go beyond our industry when we’re hiring. And the results have been surprising.

Get someone with mad skills

Our chief operating officer has an all-star background in travel and tourism. Our franchise partners include a world-class poker player, an ex-submarine engineer, veterans and even a rocket scientist. At our head office, hardly anyone has ever worked for a junk-removal company before.

That’s because people who come with preprogrammed ideas about how to run the business are often unwilling to change their ways.

We’re open to hiring outside of our industry because it’s the best way to diversify the skill set of our teams. A call-centre agent with serving experience will think differently than one with a background in door-to-door sales – but both share the soft skills of communication and interpersonal skills, making them equally capable of doing the job.

Find new dogs, get new tricks

We once interviewed a candidate for one of our Wow 1 Day Painting franchises who had previously owned a Subway restaurant. But his preconceived notions about franchising made it impossible for us to work together.

As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. If you bring someone into your business who thinks they already know everything, you might waste valuable time undoing years of old habits. From what we’ve seen, people who are new to our style of business are more adaptable and aligned with what we aim to achieve.

Use this secret sauce for success

Here’s a secret: We’re not in the moving (or junk hauling, painting or house detailing) business – we’re in the people business. We don’t care if a candidate has ever painted a room, but we do care if they know about leadership, growth and customer experience.

Our No. 1 rule is to hire for cultural fit, then train for skill. We’d rather have a team who believes in where we’re going than a team stacked with accolades and no vision.

Find fresh eyes

Geoff Henshaw had never worked in a franchise system before, but we still made him vice-president of our marketing team. And his lack of experience in our industry has never been an issue:

He’s used his background in e-commerce to make our systems stronger by boosting our focus on clean data. In his previous role, he went up against Amazon as a competitor – and as that behemoth makes a larger footprint in our space, his expertise will be invaluable going forward. When newbies join your industry, they apply fresh ideas to find solutions you didn’t even know existed.

And always: Stay gold, Ponyboy

A lot of entrepreneurs reach out to me, hoping we can partner on a new brand. While I’ve been intrigued by a few, none of them was quite right for our family of home-service companies.

Then I met Dave Notte, a highly motivated painting-industry vet, vegan and proponent of what he calls the “beautiful business”: a dirty, scalable industry with high profit margins and recurring revenue.

He said Shack Shine was just that – and he wanted to make it part of O2E Brands. I was inspired by his fresh perspective and drive to build something bigger together.

If you look at these rules, the lesson is simple: If you want the same results, hire the same kind of people.

But if you want to change the world, go beyond your industry to find the outliers and the people with ideas you’ve never heard before.

Sept. 15, 2017 "How to improve your hiring process": 

Today I found this article by David Meyers in the Globe and Mail:

A structured system focused on your company’s needs and culture will generate better results than interviews based on ‘feel’

In the past few months, Flipp has grown from 275 team members in our Toronto headquarters to 375; 150 are in our engineering team.

We’ve seen this rate of hiring and growth for more than a couple of years now and we’re still looking to hire high-quality team members that fit with our culture.

We’ve had to get more rigorous with our recruiting and interview processes. I’m very familiar with former Apple Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs’s thoughts on A players, and how A players want to work with others like themselves.

Former Apple team member Guy Kawasaki, who’d worked with Mr. Jobs on the Macintosh computer line, paraphrased it like this: “Steve Jobs has a saying that A players hire A players; B players hire C players; and C players hire D players. It doesn’t take long to get to Z players. This trickle-down effect causes bozo explosions in companies.”

The idea is clear: One of the keys to a great team, and culture, is to maintain the quality of people you bring on board. Hiring one wrong person is not just one bad hire – they can be highly detrimental for the team.

They might not work well with the team culturally, or they might lack the competencies we need and need too much handholding. These types of hires will actually repel the kind of team members we want to retain and attract.

We set out to identify great team members before we hired them, which means the interview process is critical.

The first interviews

When we started Flipp in 2007, our interview process was based on “feel.” We knew we had to build out the engineering team.

We had a general idea of the questions and a general idea of the roles we were looking to hire for. But our criteria wasn’t very clearly defined and hiring often hinged on whether we “liked” the candidate or not.

As you can tell, the process wasn’t very organized at the beginning, and it led to some poor hiring decisions. We quickly implemented more structure and started reinventing the process. When we hired somebody and it didn’t work out, we would circle back with each other and attempt to figure out why.

For example, if we realized they didn’t fit Flipp’s culture, we would ask ourselves why and create a set of questions to cover the culture areas we’d missed in earlier interviews.

Eventually, we developed a standardized structure – we knew that a software engineer would need to know certain specific languages (such as Ruby on Rails). We would ask a coding question and ask about their work experience.

We would create more behaviour-centric culture questions and specific technical questions. We got better at planning and articulating what we wanted in each of the roles.

All of these incremental changes made our interview process improve gradually, but everything changed in 2015, when we started ratcheting up our hiring, shortly before our funding round.

What changed?

Two years ago, I watched co-founder Matt Mickiewicz speak at a conference about how frustrated he was with traditional recruiters, and the challenge of finding good talent. He pointed out how references only had a moderate correlation with a successful hire and how sample work was one of the most important factors.

When Mr. Mickiewicz mentioned Who: The A Method for Hiring, I had to get the book and figure out how to apply it to our process. That dramatically changed how we approached interviews and our success rates for hiring.

The current interview process

Before we look to hire for any role, we now define what we’re looking for very clearly. We’re crystal clear with the outcomes we want for this new team member and understand the competencies we’re looking for that will set them up for success.

We define outcomes like this: “If an outstanding performer (top 10 per cent of possible candidates) were to join, what would they accomplish at the end of one month? Of three months?”

Through the interview, we’re assessing how likely it is for each candidate to achieve those onemonth and three-month objectives, and grading them.

They get an A if we’re at least 90-per-cent confident they will achieve these outcomes that only the top-10 per cent of possible candidates could achieve. They get a B if we’re 70per-cent to 89-per-cent sure they will achieve the outcomes and a C if we don’t think they will achieve them. If we grade the candidate a C for any of the competencies, we do not hire them. And we generally look for people with more A grades than Bs.

In addition to this grading system, we also shifted our interview questions from hypothetical scenarios (“What would you do if … ?”) to more evidence-based questions (“Tell me about a time you did this … ”).

Going from hypothetical to evidence-based questions sounds simple, but it was one of our greatest challenges. It’s easy to ask hypotheticals; it’s hard to ask about what the candidate actually did.

Instead, with our current process, we ask them, “What mistake did you make at a past job? How did you handle it?” This requires a very real answer that shows actual behaviour.

While the initial evidence-based question sets the stage, we’ve trained our interviewers to dig deeper. If we start off in a direction with, “Tell me about the conflict you had … ” we might follow up with, “What did you try first to solve it?” and then, “Did you get to your resolution?”

Our whole interview process now has three rounds, based on “the A Method”:

Top-grading: What you’ve done

This is a comprehensive round exploring work history and what the candidate has done.

This could be an article on its own – and there’s plenty of reading out there on how to conduct good top-grading interviews. Two of our team members interview one candidate.

Focus: What you can do

This interview stage focuses on what the candidate is capable of. We’ll provide a take-home question to design something, or ask pointed questions describing a system the candidate has designed and challenges they’ve faced.

Remember, sample work is important to evaluate a potential hire properly. Similar to the topgrading round, we have two of our team members interview one candidate.

Culture: Who you are

Typically, someone from the executive team leads this final round of interviews, which explores who the candidate is. The goal of this round is to also make sure, in the best interests of the candidate, that they understand the culture and what they’re getting into.

Throughout each stage of the interview process, we keep our eyes peeled for three traits we look for in team members: humble, hungry and highly intelligent. We also look to see if they share our values: always reinvent, be team first and coach others.

We also look for two competencies throughout: communication and business acumen. Communication is crucial for cohesive teamwork and this is a pretty standard competency for teams to look for.

Ideally, we want the engineering team to be able to make good decisions autonomously. If engineers do not understand the business reasons for why we’re doing something, they rely on somebody else’s decision-making and thinking. This makes smaller decisions a lot more difficult than they should be and decreases our agility and speed.

More important, understanding our business will enable engineers to identify new opportunities that technology can create.

Final thoughts

Interviewing is a relatively simple process, but it’s not easy. That’s why so few companies get it right. And while we’ve had some degree of success in creating and refining our interview process, we’re certainly not patting ourselves on the back just yet – it’s important for us to continue evolving and getting better with our interviews.

Interviewing and successfully hiring are crucial for maintaining your team’s and company’s culture and momentum.

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