Thursday, May 21, 2015

One of my best worst leadership mistakes

We have a recruitment process at WeUsThem that, for a small business, is rather arduous and lengthy.

Recruits have multiple levels of sorting and filtering they need to go through before they even walk through the door. After vetting their resumes, the candidates have an initial short meet and greet with the hiring manager followed immediately with a skills test. Should the candidate make it through the first round, it leads to a meeting with my business partner and I. If they are a potential candidate of choice at that point, they meet with rest of the team. If there’s a positive nod from the team, the candidate’s references are checked out and an offer is finally put forward.

Now, you must be thinking as to why a small business would put itself through such a lengthy process, and what the purpose may be. There are a few reasons for this, which are:

1- We want to make sure whoever we hire fits with the “je ne sais quoi” of our team. It's taken a long time for us to put together a team that just works and to maintain this is absolutely paramount. This harmony and chemistry, the ying and yang is unique to our team and we do what we can to maintain this.

2- We want the right sets of skills that are “beyond the paper”. We test not just for work-related skills—we also test for creativity. Thinking on your feet while applying your skill sets is an important asset for us.

3- We want each team member to take ownership for including others. Our potential hires will need to work and be comfortable with each other.

In the case of our most recent hire, we went through our typical process, step by step. Once they made it through the first round, it was time for them to meet with my business partner and I. After we met and the candidate left,  my partner and I found ourselves with two very different opinions. While she believed they would be a good addition to the team, I had my sincere doubts.

Together, we decided to let them progress to the next round to see what feedback we would receive from the team and, once again, he made it through.

I admit, I was worried. For the first time, after recruiting hundreds of people in my former careers I had an uneasy feeling on this particular hire. Although we have a probationary period in place, I did not want to invest in someone who just wouldn't work. But, due to our process, I was outvoted, outnumbered and outgunned.

Three months ago, this individual joined our small but mighty rag tag team and just completed their first review.

There is no other way to say it: I was wrong. The hire carved a unique place for themselves in our team, while also providing us much needed support.

I honestly had thought I made a mistake when letting my team outvote me to hire this individual. I’m proud to say that I’m glad I was wrong and that my partner and the team were there to catch me. This hire was my best worst mistake.

Our recruitment process may sound absurd for what we do, but we don't just add employees to our team—we add family members, as my partner would say. This multi-layered process brought us another member who adds to our strengths and works cohesively in a fashion we are comfortable with.

It's only been three months, but the teachable moment of looking back and relying on group think allowed us to gain an important cog in our WeUsThem machine.

Leadership inherently requires trusting your team and building in the capacity so that you can be caught by those that you surround yourself with. Build a team, one that takes ownership and voices their concerns when you may have missed something. This collaborative leadership style will bring about organic leadership training, growth and progression for your team while ensuring the ethos of the business continues to remain as you had envisioned.

I have always said that successful leadership needs to be about a bottom-up model than top-down and, clearly, this is another example of how this truly works. Building those conditions are important and, perhaps, you too will make a mistake you’ll eventually be proud of.