How important is finding the right candidate to join your workforce? For many employers, it’s a high priority. Finding candidates with the right skills and competencies is an intensive process that companies need to undergo on a regular basis depending on their staff turnover.
In How to build a happy sandpit, author Colin Browne details the significance of using company culture as a basis for the recruitment process. Browne interviewed the heads of companies such as Investec, Comair, Formula One Technologies, Missing Link and many more to discover how they recruit top talent and the standards they use to measure it. He discovered one thing these companies have in common: they hired for culture, not skills.
Browne sought to understand how local businesses handle cultural challenges and how they established great cultures of their own.
In the book, Browne explains that the workplace and the role culture plays is similar to children playing in a sandpit.
“Without intending to be disparaging, employees in a business are like children in a sandpit. If you have a group of children who play well together, they will build sandcastles. They may build very elaborate ones. One will run off to the tap and fetch a bucket of water and they’ll build a moat. They’ll have such a good time doing it that they will want to do it again tomorrow.
“But put one little bugger in that sandpit who won’t share the bucket and spade, or who thinks it is okay to kick sand in another’s face, soon someone is going to cry. When that happens, you’re off the adults’ table and back to managing the sandpit.”
…employees in a business are like children in a sandpit. If you have a group of children who play well together, they will build sandcastles.
Browne explains that avoiding the above scenario is a matter of understanding the nature of your own sandpit so that your company is able to maximise its chances of adding the right “children” to the group.
Rich Mulholland, owner and founder of advertising firm Missing Link, told Browne he had realised the importance of hiring employees who thought like him and shared the same values as him. Mulholland said he saw the value of hiring employees who didn’t take themselves too seriously and thrived in a creative environment.
Alison Treadaway, Africa MD of e-billing specialist Striata, described how her company had managed to uphold its culture by ensuring that she personally met short-listed candidates during the interview process.
“I meet every single candidate before they are hired to see if they gel into the culture. I’ve experienced that every time you compromise on culture for skills, it doesn’t work out.”
According to Marc Kahn, Head of Human Resources and Organisation Development at Investec, his company held multiple interviews with possible candidates and banned the use of psychometric tests.
“At Investec, we are looking to see what sense of relationship a person has with his employer, colleagues and work environment. In an interview it is easy to see what type of relationships a person builds when they are interviewed by different people. You are then able to get a sense of their culture.”
* How to build a happy sandpit is available in book stores.