22 January 2012

With a need to add 100 people to our already 150 strong business, recruitment and training are at the forefront of all our minds.

Trying to find like-minded people is essential. It’s not a case of just employing a recruitment agency and hoping for the best. Our culture is so defined that the wrong people don’t fit in and do more damage than good. Most don’t hang around even if they get through the process. It is essential to ensure that we don’t waste other people’s time and our own.

I remember Tony Robbins’ sales trainer and great friend telling me ,“I look for people who have the skills that I cannot teach.” I was curious to know what he meant. Essentially, he looked for people with great values who’d been brought up very well. Once he had them in his midst, he’d train them and take the time to teach them his skills.

“They are worth the investment of time and energy,” he’d say. “We turn down lots of people who are well qualified but who just don’t fit with our values.”

Now this is something I understand, when it’s put in plain and simple English.

We have 6 core values in UKFast. Every time we recruit outside of these, if we stumble upon a technical genius or someone who appears to have all the skills we require, we get caught out. One of our values is “supportive,” and this cancels out so many other people who may be very attractive to other businesses. If they are not supportive, they won’t fit in at UKFast whichever department they are heading for. I believe we dont put enough stock on the skills that aren’t easily measured or taught as lessons in schools. If you have a rocket scientist who’d help revolutionise your business on paper, it’s worth considering his impact at all the other levels.

This reminds me of a certain technical genius, who I stumbled upon on the Internet a few years back. I could see this person’s passion; he was just 18 and he had been supporting a US hosting company from his bedroom as his part time job. He had all the technical skills (and more) that we could ever hope for.

We got him in for an interview, did a psychometric profile, and I, being an impulsive man, admired his resolve and fought to get him on to the team.

The problem I had was that the test came back with a note, “Call Alan.” Alan is our psychometric tester and every now and then, if someone stands out, he’ll ask for a face-to-face chat. When we spoke, I knew he’d got this profile wrong. He described the chap as a “Jack the lad” and someone who’d disrupt the status quo for a variety of reasons. I explained that he was just 18 and had hidden behind his fringe for the best part of the interview. Oh, and his Dad came along too because he was that shy. Alan warned me and explained that his values were so far removed from ours as a group of individuals.

Sadly, it turned out that Alan was right and whilst I never like to give up on anyone, when you have colleagues coming up to you from every department constantly complaining that he was just spoiling the environment making everyone’s life a misery, we decided he’d be happier elsewhere.

It’s a shame because he is someone I’d admired and associated with so many qualities. However, there were some fundamental big differences and Alan was right; he was happier elsewhere and he finally found his home with another hosting provider where I am confident he is helping them to make a big difference.

I suppose the moral of the story is that even when you think someone will help you make the boat go faster, just make sure that they are steering in the same direction as you.

All too often, I find that people think it’s acceptable to “sledge”. This is an Australian Cricketing term but a good description of someone who sits bickering and being cynical of every step that the management might be making. Some people just can’t see the good in anything. If you have people in your business like this or you recognise this amongst colleagues, make it your duty to help them find new challenges in their lives. Often, they are bored or just don’t fit in. But they can leave and make a massive contribution and thoroughly enjoy their careers elsewhere if they find a team of people more in tune with their way of thinking.

It’s not that one type of person is better than another; every business needs a wide variety of personalities. However, “values” need to be aligned if you are going to do something extraordinary and break records.

So, if you know anyone who you think is a great person, family member, friend or acquaintance, and you think they look like the sort of person who likes to go out of their way for others, then let them know we are recruiting and we value this quality above all else. I’ll discuss the other 5 core values at a later date as they all figure in the genetic makeup of a UKFast team member.

 

 

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