Claudia Lambrichs-Lindenbergh

Claudia Lambrichs-Lindenbergh

  • is the founder of [C L – H R], a firm that helps compa­nies build high perfor­ming cultures and attract and retain talent. Prior to foun­ding her own company, she built, deve­loped, and opti­mised HR func­tions for rapidly-scaling startups – as well as mature and esta­blished orga­ni­sa­tions – for more than 10 years.

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Before your dream employee joins your company, they have likely proved them­selves a stan­dout candi­date in your hiring process. On your end, it all just seems to match, and with each inter­view you become increa­singly excited about this person. On their end, they enjoy disco­vering whether their values are in line with yours, and demon­stra­ting throug­hout the process that they get who you are and what you do, and are excited about the idea of working with you. Next step? You decide to extend the offer, the candi­date is thrilled about it and becomes your employee, seam­lessly navi­gates the new company culture, and adds value from day one. This is the dream scen­ario. It’s effi­cient, posi­tive and exci­ting for ever­yone involved. The question I often get is, how do you build an effec­tive hiring process to maxi­mise the chances of this perfect match? And how do you get talent excited about your company?

Over the years, I’ve seen many diffe­rent approa­ches to hiring talent. As compa­nies seek new ways of recrui­ting and enga­ging employees, the focus has turned to people. The times in which the company was in the driver’s seat when it came to hand-picking talent has passed. Sayings like “a company is built by people, not by products” have become more rele­vant, and the trend for inve­stors to devote resources to buil­ding great teams prevails. In regards to hiring, focus­sing on people means making candi­dates the centre of atten­tion and provi­ding them with an amazing journey. “But,” you think, “shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the candi­date be grateful for the oppor­tu­nity to speak with the company?” Sure – they should, and they are. At the same time though, this outstan­ding candi­date is most likely being pursued by many other compa­nies hungry for the best talent. Ever­yone wants to play with these A-players, since those will be true game chan­gers for your busi­ness. Hiring should be a two-way process exami­ning whether it’s the right choice for the candi­date and the right choice for the company. Over time, I have noticed that compa­nies with the most success in hiring the talent go one step further: they acknow­ledge the import­ance of the candidate’s expe­ri­ence in the hiring process. Let that reso­nate for a second. Now, ask yourself, as a founder, deci­sion-maker, or recruiter: are you genui­nely inte­re­sted in your candi­dates? Is your hiring process desi­gned to meet their needs or mostly yours? It seems simple, but I have found again and again that it’s not. Short time­frames and other high-prio­rity topics can stand in the way of approa­ching your hiring process in a careful and empa­thic way.

There’s lots of evidence to show that making your candi­dates the centre of atten­tion in the hiring process will pay off. Compa­nies that invest in an amazing candi­date expe­ri­ence improve the quality of their hires by 70%1. It results in better matches and more satis­fied employees. Not only does it lead to a higher level of satis­fac­tion, but ulti­mately in more custo­mers. Boosting employee satis­fac­tion by only one Glass­door rating point raises the market value of a company by 7.9%2. To benefit from these results, you must build an effec­tive hiring process.

FIVE WAYS OF GETTING CLOSER TO YOUR HIRING GOALS

1. Create an amazing expe­ri­ence every step of the way

From the first contact with the candi­date to the last, you need to create an unique expe­ri­ence. As Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon, put it, “We see our custo­mers as guests at our party. We are the host, and it is our job to make every important aspect of the customer expe­ri­ence a little better every day.” The journey starts as early as when your talents reads about your company, or when you reach out to them. Your tone of voice, your Glass­door ratings, ever­y­thing you say or do, verbally or non-verbally, gives the candi­date an impres­sion of who you are. A-players only want to play with other A-players, and they are looking for the best expe­ri­ence possible.

The diffe­rence between a good expe­ri­ence and great expe­ri­ence is in the details. Have a thorough look at your hiring process, and define all these touch­points with your candi­date. Do you have the right frame­work set up for this talent to be drawn to your company? And does it reflect who you are as a company? If one of your values is to be inno­va­tive or fast, does your hiring process indi­cate this? Do you have inno­va­tive tools, or ways of enga­ging with candi­dates? Or, when it’s related to speed, what is your KPI with regards to time-to-hire? Even if you reach a point at which you decide that the candi­date isn’t the right fit, being respectful of their time and provi­ding them with construc­tive feed­back, will mean that they can walk out the door feeling posi­tive about their expe­ri­ence. Further­more, they’re also far more likely to spread the word amongst A-players that your company cares about its people. Word of mouth is very powerful.

2. Talents are unique, so treat them uniquely

Under­stan­ding your candi­dates is key to buil­ding an effec­tive hiring process. Once you truly know them, you imme­dia­tely notice that they need to be approa­ched and treated differ­ently. A soft­ware deve­l­oper will look at diffe­rent aspects of a job than, say, an online marke­ting director. Simi­larly, you’ll need to use diffe­rent chan­nels to reach a busi­ness deve­lop­ment manager than when approa­ching a UX desi­gner. When marke­ting a product, it’s common prac­tice to define personas and roll out a specific stra­tegy that’s compel­ling to that customer. Why not apply this to recruit­ment, and profile your talent? In-depth know­ledge about your poten­tial candi­dates results in the right approach for hiring them. Define your key segments, and learn what makes them tick. Engage with these diffe­rent talent groups within your orga­ni­sa­tion, and ask the A-players of these groups where they can be found, on what chan­nels they’re active, what moti­vates them and why they chose your company. Use that as the base for your hiring process. Talent profiling ensures a higher success rate in the hiring funnel. Your candi­dates will better under­stand what the job and your company are about and if there is a match between their own values and those of your company. A great side effect of this is that candi­dates show their true version of them­selves, which makes it easier for you to assess whether or not they are a good fit.

3. Create and live your story

If you want to attract A-players, you need to know your story. As put by Simon Sinek, a British-American author and consul­tant, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Having a clear story for your candi­dates and demon­stra­ting a strong employer brand throug­hout your hiring process increases your chances of making that quality hire. Compa­nies that invest in their employer brand are three times more likely to make a quality hire3. Addi­tio­nally, compa­nies with strong employer brands also have amazing customer brands. They are highly inter­linked, just as a compel­ling busi­ness stra­tegy has to be at the root of a compel­ling talent stra­tegy. Assuming that the values of trans­pa­r­ency, inte­grity and inno­va­tion are shared by the most successful and endu­ring brands, why should there be a diffe­rence in dealing with candi­dates or custo­mers? You have to be authentic and consi­stent though; once you’re not, candi­dates will see right through you. It may not happen during the hiring process, but there is no doubt that within months you’ll be back to square one. By being open and honest about your values at every stage of the hiring process from the get-go, both the candi­dates and hiring mana­gers will know in advance of working toge­ther whether or not they’ll make a perfect match. So what do you want to tell candi­dates about your company? What should become appa­rent to them through the series of touch­points? And is ever­yone involved aware of the story you’d like to portray.

4. Pick the right battles

“Doing more with less”. Does this sound fami­liar? It is some­thing I hear at compa­nies quite regu­larly. There’s always this pres­sure to channel your efforts and maxi­mise the return on invest­ment. You are most likely busy mana­ging your talents to maxi­mise quality, speed, inno­va­tion and customer deli­very. When enga­ging with mana­gers or foun­ders, espe­ci­ally in times of hyper-growth, compa­nies some­times have the tend­ency to start hiring right away and to the tune of large sums. However, hiring candi­dates is a time-consuming process, espe­ci­ally if you are aiming for the perfect match. Picking the right battles isn’t easy. Knowing who your talent is just part one. The next step (and your poten­tial secret weapon in the war for talent) is to under­stand the true econo­mics of value crea­tion in specific roles. Which roles contri­bute the most to your revenue? Where do you need the most capable people within your orga­ni­sa­tion? To do this, you need to chal­lenge your hiring needs. Less is indeed more here: focus on fewer posi­tions with great busi­ness impact, instead of many posi­tions without the adequate resources to hire these A-players. A high performer in a busi­ness-critical role can be a game­ch­anger as they deliver 400% more produc­tivity than the average performer4. Make it a prio­rity to deliver for that talent, where the most value is created.

5. Don’t compro­mise quality for speed

This is a tricky one. For you to build a unique culture that A-players want to be a part of, you can’t make any excep­tions if you feel that someone isn’t the right fit. Compro­mi­sing on quality will always back­fire, and it only takes one bad apple to spoil a barrel. If you’re in hyper-growth mode, then leaving a role open for a longer period of time might feel like a dange­rous move. But hiring someone whose values are not in line with your company’s will be even more dange­rous. When I speak with deci­sion-makers from diffe­rent compa­nies, they recall having doubts about certain hires, and wish they’d paid atten­tion to those feelings. You need to trust your hunches and ask yourself whether the candi­date honestly have what it takes to be the perfect hire? What will improve your deci­sion making is exami­ning the distinc­tion between func­tional capa­bi­li­ties and cultural capa­bi­li­ties. Func­tional capa­bi­li­ties differ role by role, whereas ever­yone needs the same cultural skills. Sepa­rate the two when asses­sing a candi­date, and make sure that they have both. A-players can only reach an excep­tional level of perfor­mance by opera­ting in an envi­ron­ment that fits them. Engage diffe­rent employees in the hiring process, and distri­bute func­tional “skill” assess­ments and cultural fit, across a range of inter­viewers. This way you will increase your chances of hiring the perfect match – someone who can hit the ground running.

CLOSING

We have been at war for talent since the ’90s, and there’s no sign of the feud cooling down. Finding great talent that fit your company’s culture and will stay loyal to the orga­ni­sa­tion is among a CEO’s grea­test worries5. Large corpo­ra­tions struggle to keep up with the exci­ting culture that startups promise, and startups, in their right, lack the resources and some­times the know­ledge base to retain talent. Good talent, in turn, is always open to posi­tive change. They don’t see their employers as their life partner. They are conti­nuously in search of meaningful work, and want to explore the oppor­tu­nities that lie ahead. Ask any founder what they would have done differ­ently, and they are most likely to say that they would have inve­sted more in their people right from the start – either in their custo­mers, employees or candi­dates. The focus world­wide has shifted to people while hiring and enga­ging with employees. This, for me, is an incredibly posi­tive deve­lop­ment.

Above all, remember to treat your poten­tial employees as if they were prospec­tive custo­mers. It will comple­tely change your approach to hiring. The great catch is that the scen­ario of the perfect match becomes the rule rather than excep­tion. And with those A-players, you will change the impact of your busi­ness.

1. Brandon Hall, The True Cost of a Bad Hire, September 2015
2. Journal of Corpo­rate Finance, 2015
3. Brandon Hall, The True Cost of a Bad Hire, September 2015
4. O’Boyle Jr & Aguinis, The Best and the rest: revi­si­ting the norm of norma­lity of indi­vi­dual perfor­mance, February 2012
5. 72% of CEOs are concerned about the avai­la­bi­lity of key skills.(PwC, 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2016)

Claudia Lambrichs-Lindenbergh

Claudia Lambrichs-Lindenbergh

  • is the founder of [C L – H R], a firm that helps compa­nies build high perfor­ming cultures and attract and retain talent. Prior to foun­ding her own company, she built, deve­loped, and opti­mised HR func­tions for rapidly-scaling startups – as well as mature and esta­blished orga­ni­sa­tions – for more than 10 years.

Want to get to know Claudia Lambrichs-Lindenbergh?

Get in touch

Still curious?
There is more to see here:

All Articles