25 August 2019

“As a leader I believe that I have a moral duty to ensure my colleagues work alongside people who are as amazing as they are. If I don’t I have failed.” James Timpson

james timpson and lawrence jones ukfast

With friend and fantastic businessperson, James Timpson.

This is the number one rule in creating an incredible business. Without extraordinary people, you can’t have an extraordinary business. It really is that simple.

This quote reinforces the essential importance of getting recruitment right. It can make or break a business.

It is unsurprising to hear this quote from James Timpson, whose business is a pioneer of extraordinary workplaces. The company is also leading the way in employing people who have been to prison. For more than a decade, the Timpson family have committed to rehabilitating former prisoners funding training academies and providing employment opportunities.

There is so much that we can all learn from this approach. Recruiting for any vacancy should be an opportunity to really get to know the candidate, the person behind the CV. Otherwise, you could end up causing a huge amount of damage to the business.

It is easy to hire a person who seems to be the best of the bunch when you’ve been interviewing for weeks, if not months. Inevitably you start to question whether you have set the bar too high. Is it even possible to find someone with that experience, skill and personality? So you settle for a good candidate, instead of a great candidate.

The truth is, you set the bar high for a reason. It is better to hire no one than to hire someone who isn’t a good fit for your business – better for both you and the candidate. Unfortunately, I have learned this time and again, from both points of view.

Shaping recruitment

It is never nice to feel like you don’t fit in. When you hire someone who doesn’t match with the culture of the business, that’s exactly how they are going to feel. Equally, if you hire someone who doesn’t reach the high bar that you set for every other candidate you hired, they’re more than likely going to struggle.

UKFast 10k We Love MCR - building the amazing team at UKFast takes a huge focus on recruitment.

Some of the amazing UKFast team at last year’s We Love Manchester 10k

This inevitably leads to the person being unhappy and demotivated. This negativity then spreads throughout the team, and beyond.

At UKFast, our core values help shape our recruitment policy. They give shape to an intangible concept. It is so difficult to define what makes your culture what it is. It is hard enough to define the word culture itself. To me, it is a set of shared values, experiences and attitudes. We also use both psychometric and aptitude testing to find like-minded people for the team, people who are going to be happy here.

We take recruitment seriously because the impact on the rest of the business is serious.

‘A’ Players

I remember a quote from Apple’s Guy Kawasaki in which he said: “My theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called ‘the bozo explosion’ to happen in your organization.”

I take this to mean that those ‘A players’ are the ones who reach that high bar that you set. The people who are perfect for your business, who match the culture and have shared values. The ‘B players’ are the ones who almost match the culture and have some shared values. The ‘C players’ are those who aren’t in line with your culture or shared values. Inevitably, when you hire these people who are on the fence, the B people, you dilute your culture further down the line. As Timpson says, amazing people deserve to be surrounded by amazing people.

This is an attitude reflected across so many of the top business in the world. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, said: “I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.”

That being said, it is worth remembering that whilst in many cases attitude is ingrained, skills can always be taught. I believe that you should never turn an amazing person away because they don’t have the skills that you need. Get them into the business and train them up!

Shaping your business

At the end of the day it is the people within the business who shape it. They are the people who represent your brand and who drive productivity. They have the power to make or break it!

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