Speaking from personal experience, Patricia Bacon, founder of Bacon Consulting shares insights on recruitment and building culture for a healthy business. You can hear her speak at our next event here on 1st October.
As I have grown businesses over the years I have come to realise that recruiting the right people is one of the greatest contributors to achieving success. Everyone counts in the business and plays a vital role as it expands. Selecting the right people is, therefore, critical. It is also one of the things I have managed to get right but at times oh so wrong! So I’d like to share some of the things I have learned and tips with you.
Always, always listen to what you feel – your gut instincts are correct. Never settle however long it takes to get the right person – at times through frustration and impatience I did just that and I should have gone with my gut. That has been a massive learning for me.
What exactly do I mean by that? As you look to grow your business and recruit critical team members it is imperative as you delegate the new responsibility that you recruit someone you can empower and who can be up and running immediately. As I embarked on this journey at an early growth stage I was impressed as a great candidate ticked all my boxes. He was used to working in a Corporate environment with structure and support but wanted to move to a growing business where he could really take charge and be more effective and impactful. ‘Marvellous’, I thought. So we hired him – but, we needed him to create the structure, build the team and take charge of all the steps involved in developing just that.
However, he didn’t really want to get his hands dirty – and wasn’t fully aware of what working for a start up business was really about and just how little support and structure existed and as a consequence he floundered in our environment.
Attitude and behaviour counts for just so much.
That isn’t to say someone with corporate experience can’t transition to excel within an entrepreneurial business – quite the opposite. As a result of this I learnt to put candidates in scenarios to establish their expectations and how they would rise to the occasion – and it can be exciting but also quite shocking and unnerving transitioning to an entrepreneurial business if someone is used to a more structured environment.
Whether you are a start up or developing the business internationally I’ve learnt to use the team and get them involved in recruiting as you grow – it also means you are delegating and empowering others early on – 2 vital areas to always focus on. After all, it is the team who will be working with them every day, so get them involved in selecting the team they want from the outset and being part of that decision. Candidates have come in to spend half a day with the team on the sales desk, shadowing and listening in to calls and ultimately giving them an opportunity to see what the job entails. No one has any surprises on day 1 either. I have also always passionately believed the candidates should be interviewing us as much as we are interviewing them.
The team can assess how they sound on the phone. Can they navigate the CRM? Do they fit in with the existing team? How do they cope out of their comfort zone? The team, in the process, feel hugely valued and very excited to be involved and know their opinions all count. Culture is everything and I’ve seen this really make a difference over the years.
There is a plethora of ways of recruiting great people and whilst LinkedIn and many other sources have changed the way we are able to recruit, there is still a role for a great agency. But, if you do decide to appoint one they absolutely must, in my view, feel like an extension to your team. Some years ago when we were recruiting Sales Consultants very early on in the business I was desperate for help and we were growing so quickly and I didn’t know where to turn for great candidates. We took a decision to appoint what was a great agency but we quickly realised our Account Manager wasn’t the right match for the business. I was on the verge of moving agencies when another account manager saw the opportunity and seized it. He spent time with us, understood culturally what we did and ‘got’ us. Ensure that your agency only EVER sends through candidates that they want you to meet with the reason why. It keeps them totally focussed and on their game. Too often I have seen agencies scatter gun candidates with clients hoping they will select a couple – you are paying the agency to do a job so make them work whilst you concentrate on growing the business.
It can happen when you least expect it but we all know when we are bowled over and people just totally WOW us – and we all know when it happens but we rarely speak up or take advantage of it. For me it happened when I was shopping where an unpleasant activity became fun and enjoyable as the Sales Assistant was just brilliant at Customer Service. That same person was doing a business degree and worked part time in the shop to support herself and had thought she would go to a big business to work during her 3rd year placement. I gave her my card and said we were a growing business just in case she was interested. She did some research on us, got in touch soon after and following the team meeting her joined the marketing team as an intern – and was equally as brilliant at that too.
Patricia is a Global Board and Executive Director with over 25 years experience working at a commercial and strategic business level. Prior to starting her own business Patricia’s career included senior roles at The Instant Group, The Henley Centre (part of WPP), The McWilliams Partnership, Swiss Bank Corporation and Nissan Europe in Amsterdam.
Patricia Bacon Consulting was established to help effect business growth for companies who want to scale. Patricia coaches Company owners to ensure they are working ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ it and develop their strategy.
Whilst at The Instant Group Patricia was integral in running and building the business internationally and securing PE Investment. This included managing the growth to 100+people, opening international offices in Australia and the US, recruiting, leading and growing Teams globally and creating game-changing strategic development initiatives. As a huge advocate of culture, Patricia saw Instant placed in the Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to Work For’ 5 years running achieving a top rating of 23rd position.
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