18 August 2013
Why is it so important to make a special effort to get great people?
You can’t be everywhere at all times and as your business grows, you get further away from customers as other responsibilities take hold. You inevitably have to rely on the common sense, honesty and integrity of the team around you. Are their energy levels and passion at your level?
You might hear people say, “Employ people who are better than you”. This is a start, but it’s not enough. The dynamic that most businesses miss whilst trying desperately to fill the skills gap is “culture.” Culture is an overused word and most business owners think they are on top of it, but really I think as few as 5% of businesses in the UK are getting this right. Skills all too often take precedent over a great attitude.
How do you identify great candidates?
I don’t look at CV’s these days. Since the Universities and Polytechnics merged and O Levels became GCSEs, it has been getting harder to separate people on paper through qualifications. Nowadays, employers have a much harder job sorting the wheat from the chaff, but if you don’t do it, you slow your business down and potentially worse, risk absolute failure. The wrong people disrupt work flow and rub against the grain of a business.
Picking a team and managing them well is the difference between success and failure.
In my early years in UKFast, we got each department in to a room and asked them to write down and agree on a set of core values for UKFast. We were made to distill them down to 5 or 6. It was a hard exercise, but eventually we arrived at a list of values we still live by today.
What was interesting, and the person who helped us run the exercise said he’d never witnessed anything like this before, was that each department came up with the exact same core values. He predicted we’d be successful on this basis alone.
We have recruited on these principles ever since. Every time we deviate away from it, to accommodate someone who has extraordinary skills, we fail and the person doesn’t fit in.
Get it right and you end up with a business where people hang out together at the weekends and develop lasting relationships and even marry. The energy from this sort of team is boundless and develops its own momentum.
How do you identify the right characteristics in a prospective new recruit?
You can use the usual techniques, psychometric tests, interviews with multiple people, and so on. Brands like Soneva Fushi in the Maldives interview each person with 41 different people before letting someone onto their island. How seriously are they taking their culture? Are you taking your recruitment this seriously?
If you are not and you get the wrong people on the bus, as Jim Collins author and Stanford Professor calls it, it’s costly. Someone who doesn’t believe in your brand can upset customers and teammates very easily. We’ve all seen examples of shocking customer service, there are examples everywhere nowadays.This has to be something we avoid at all costs.
When you have a set of core values, you can use them to hone into the exact personality traits you want. If they don’t match up to your list, don’t employ them.
It is possible to be bluffed during an interview, so what do you do to assess your new team mates?
This is where it’s worth investing in a second layer, the initiation! By taking new recruits out of their comfort zone, you get to see their true colours immediately. It’s so important, we invested in an old hotel which is now our training centre and home to numerous events. New recruits are bussed down to the Snowdonia National Park for 2 days of adventure training.
By setting them a series of challenges, including climbing Snowdon and raft building, by the end of it, we know exactly which ones will become superstars, managers, leaders and which – if any – shouldn’t be on the bus.
It might sound costly at first, but think about this logically, for every employee you got wrong from the beginning, add their collective salaries and I am sure it will outweigh the cost of running these events. Furthermore, this investment into the new team mates develops strong bonds and loyalty that are difficult to emulate in any other way.
After all, isn’t this what we are trying to do? Inspire the next generation of our workforce into creating something special.
If you are looking for a career and you believe you are someone who wants to make a difference not only to our business and the people with in UKFast but also to your own life, then you should get in touch and ask for an interview.
UKFast is committed to recruiting 50 graduates over the next 12 months.
UKFast has a dedicated training department with an academy and an adventure training centre in the Snowdonia National Park. We are also always on the lookout for exceptional people. If you have landed on this page, maybe it’s time you dropped us a line.