Management

Reinventing Your Hiring: How a Solid Recruitment Process Increases your Impact

How do we make sure our teams are filled with stars? The goal of every company is to hire top talent to build strong teams who will help us achieve our goals. 


To form these teams, we rely on a cycle. The cycle ranges from hiring to team composition — onboarding practices, team dynamics, individual talent, etc. 


The team-building process is an ongoing movement that helps us strengthen our teams. Therefore, it needs the Japanese philosophy Kaizen, meaning continuous improvement.


A core philosophy on the six levels of unicorn teams states that what matters the most in a team is the interaction between people rather than the individual talent.

However, team composition becomes essential when we raise the bar in solving high-complex problems, innovation, and building your startup.


To effectively manage team composition, we need to look at how we assemble our group—the hiring process.


As a manager and as a Unicorn Leader, your number one goal should focus on creating that high-performing team.


“Change and uncertainty are part of life. Our job is not to resist them, but to build the capability to recover when unexpected events occur. If you don’t always try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill-prepared to lead.” Edwin Earl “Ed”  Catmull, co-founder of Pixar.

This is the reality of the team-building cycle. You are building a team able to deal with uncertainty, deal with change, and continuously improve because change is the only constant we actually have.

Building a high-performance team is hard work, as you probably know, and it doesn’t happen overnight. 

The composition of a team concerns the skills and attitude of each member, and you want to ensure you onboard the right people to achieve greatness in your company.


The truth is, the right star or talent can elevate your team’s success significantly.

But, if you have a flawed hiring process, you risk spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars when doing a bad hire.


You have to spend time building the team.


To hire top talent and achieve greatness, startups have to look and reinvent their hiring strategy and adjust their onboarding process.


How can you successfully do this? Below are a few tips.


How To Recruit Top Talent

Given that you have limited resources as a startup, invest most of your HR dollars in recruitment and team building. Improve your hiring system by reducing biases and slow down the hiring process by implementing Gallup’s recommended steps for successful hiring.

In other words: Attract > Hire > Onboard

Your Employment Brand Matters

As startups, we spend time and money on marketing campaigns to build a loyal customer base. But we often neglect to develop an equally strong employment brand to attract the best applicants.


Just like we want a brand for our customers, we want a brand for our employees.


Thanks to technology and social media, employees can reveal and share your employee’s brand. Unlike before, applicants now have access to your entire employee experience, hiring, onboarding, career development opportunities and departure.


Gen-Zs and millennials are highly networked. When they are applying for jobs, what is the first thing they do? Research employees and or seek out referrals from people in the organization.


They determine your employment brand by your reputation.


They want to know what it is like working at your company before they start working there.


Your reputation will determine if you are attracting the top talent or steering them away.

Hire: Pick The Star

Once you have attracted the candidates, you have to pick the star. 


Hiring engaged stars can boost morale,  customer engagement, revenue and profitability. The right selection can help you establish a culture of high performance. It can also help show how easily people can integrate into your culture and whether they will persist when things get tough.


On the other hand, the wrong hire can be extremely costly to your team and organization.


But how do you pick the right candidate? By reducing your biases and following an analytics-based hiring.


“Organizations that select the top 20% of candidates from [Gallup’s] assessments have been found to achieve 30% higher profitability.” — Gallup.

By reducing the pre-disposed biases in your hiring system, you can improve the success rate of your hires. 


Researchers Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal coined the term thin-slices of behaviour which later became popularized by Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.


The science behind the term is rooted in the fact that people often form judgments based on very small samples of interactions with someone else—for example, their first impression. 


Thin slices can reveal our unconscious bias and lead to snap judgments. Bad decisions. Failed outcomes. Because of these biases, managers can make hiring decisions they end up later regretting.


Types of biases:

  • Glare factors: Disproportionate weight given to physical characteristics in an interview—how a candidate looks, dresses and presents themselves.
  • Experience fallacy: Thinking everyone hired from X company will be a success. 
  • Confirmation bias: Only hearing comments that confirm their beliefs about the person.
  • Overconfidence bias: Thinking you have a special ability to judge applicants based on a gut feeling without considering other information.
  • Similarity bias: Selecting and hiring similar people. This is the most apparent bias, and we see it when teams take personality-type tests.
  • Stereotype bias: Making decisions based on unconscious stereotypes associated with gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity and age.
  • Availability bias: Relying on memory and deciding based on a few high or low points rather than having proper documentation and a comprehensive view of all the skill sets.
  • Escalation commitment: Feeling pressured to move forward with a candidate because of time and energy invested.

As the hiring manager and leader, you must distinguish between your biases and truth from the data.

When college athletes are being recruited, the professional team spends hours studying stats, rewatching games, etc.

Most organizations, especially startups, don’t have the luxury to rewatch games or scout for candidates. 

But thanks to organizational psychologists, there are efficient measures and methods to substantially reduce hiring bias and help predict performance after a hiring decision.

“When looking to hire people, give their potential to grow more weight than the current skill level.” — Edwin Earl “Ed”  Catmull.

Gallup’s research recommends using the following criteria for successful hiring:

  1. Look at their prior experience and achievements. Ask about details of specific skill sets, how they worked on a particular project, what knowledge they gained, etc.
  2. Look at innate tendencies. The five tendencies are motivation, work style, initiation, collaboration and thought process.
  3. Host multiple interviews. Include different team members and future peers in the process and combine evaluations from all discussions.
  4. Have on-the job-observation. Depending on the role, you can ask for writing samples, give them a test, group interviews.

Now that you have all this information, take your time hiring. Slow it down. 

I know you want to fill that role, start the project, or just need another person, but having the right individual is more effective than the cost of turnover when you hire the wrong people.

How To Retain Top Talent

Now that we have covered team composition, how to attract new and top talent by investing in an employment brand, and how to hire those stars by reducing biases and following a good interview process, we need to look at how to retain these star employees.

The next stage in Gallup’s framework is onboarding.

Adjust The Onboarding Process

Once recruited, once hired, how does a new employee who just walked through the door (or logging into their company email for the first time), feel like one of “us”?


Some companies do social bonds, others have a set process of onboarding, others have a “sink or swim” approach. 


The overall goal of onboarding should be to introduce the foundational elements that employees can build on throughout their careers at your company.


First impressions matter and they set the tone for the employee’s career and engagement with you.


Imagine you’re starting with a blank slate. This is your chance to build on your ideal company culture and employee experience from the getgo. 


The data from Gallup shows that only one in 10 employees strongly agree their organization has a strong onboarding process. While four in 10 are engaged in their first six months—when engagement it’s typically at its peak.

Use team-building sessions to understand what your team wishes they had, what worked and what didn’t.


When looking at your onboarding process, make sure you’re including information and guidance so your new employees are able to answer these five questions, as proposed by Gallup’s framework:

  1. What do we [the company] believe?
  2. What are my strengths?
  3. What is my role?
  4. Who are my partners?
  5. What does my future look like?

The first question is collective while the rest are individual-based.

The five questions:

‘What do we believe’

Focuses on the purpose of the company. The shared vision and beliefs. All the elements that encompass the team overall. This is a great opportunity to explain your team behaviours, the importance of psychological safety, empowerment, conflict in the workplace, communication and feedback, your culture of leadership (whether they’ll have a chance to lead). Make sure to discuss how teamwork is highly valued at the company and how it’s something they have to put in the effort.


‘What are my strengths’

Talks about how to become an active and successful employee, individuals must approach their new roles with their strengths. We want a strengths-based approach. When the new employees know their strengths as well as their peers, people will understand how they fit within the team. You can do this by providing DISC assessments, Gallup’s tests, or other personality-type tests. 


Investing time and energy in getting to know your new hires’ strengths sends an indication of belonging and it will show them they are in it for the long haul with you and the company.


‘What is my role’

Mentions the importance to be clear about work expectations and performance metrics. You need to tell them how they can be a star player. A strong fit and path between the company’s goals and vision to the role will help with longevity retention. It goes beyond the work description. Describe the decision-making process, team structure, norms, role clarity and more to ensure they feel empowered in their role.


‘Who are my partners’

Highlights how each new hire should develop partnerships within the organization. They should have a relationship map so they understand who they can reach out to based on the different needs. By introducing them to their peers, new hires will feel supported and better connected in your company.


‘What does my future look like,’

Emphasizes the growth opportunities. All people need to learn and grow professionally and personally. Regardless of age, every employee should see a plausible path of growth. Having a development culture will increase your employee retention as people want to stay at companies where there’s space for growth.

To Recap...

An employment brand can lead to long-term success as you will attract not only more qualified candidates, but also the ones best suited to your organization, its’ values, mission, and purpose. Then, through a selective and data-driven hiring process, you’ll be able to effectively pick the stars and establish a high-performing team with your meaningful onboarding practices.

Together this serves as your foundation as a long-term investment into the success of your company. Ultimately, it’s the people that move the needle forward and bring the organizational vision to life.

Download this hiring checklist by us at Unicorn Labs that will help you stay organized when hiring your next star.

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