Hiring a Rockstar Team

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Why assembling the right team first is more important than embarking on big, transformative changes.

Jim Collins’ book Good to Great – well, where do I start? His book, and series of books quite frankly have fast become some of my favourite management books of all time, particularly if you’re a CEO looking to grow your business. I was recommended this very aptly by Lee Francis and to say it’s had profound influence on the way I approach my business would be a serious understatement. 

In ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins points out that you need the right people on the bus before you work out where it is you want to go. And that’s been exactly my focus over recent weeks at RE:geon as I scoured the region on a major recruitment drive for a range of key disciplines and departments within my business. Most notably in the areas where growth is about to seriously step up.

From Multi Skilled Construction Tutors to accelerate our leading presence in the social housing sector and decarbonisation within construction to new Community Partners to turbocharge our work within the community, there’s some BIG things about to go down at RE:geon. Alongside that, we’ve been on the hunt and successfully appointed a new head of quality and curriculum as well as compliance to ensure that everything is in place to keep us on track and above board with the flood of funding requirements crashing at the door. Bringing in the right people to help us take on our greatest transformation yet is the foundation to our success. Supporting Collins theory that it really is about “First Who, Then What?”

“You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and who’s going with you. Most people assume that great bus drivers (business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision. In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances.”

It’s fair to say that Collins makes light work of what can be one of a business owner’s most stressful tasks – recruitment. We’ve all been burnt in the past by bringing the wrong people into the fold, and we’ve all paid the price in some way for it, be it through time, cost or even reputational damage. To be able to better navigate recruitment, which lets face it, can be an art in itself, Collins has developed a simple 4 step process for effective implementation of the “First Who, Then What?” Approach. Here I share it with you along with our own pre-step that we used to lay even stronger foundations for success:

(Our Pre-Step)
Embed the right culture from Day One

Those of you who follow the RE:GEN Group and partners within the group know that we are BIG on cultivating a positive, all inclusive culture. Aligning our culture to our group strategy and embedding it from day one was our goal and we’ve worked hard to continue nurturing this culture every day thereafter. Why is this important? Well a strong and authentic culture drives consistent behaviour and clear direction amongst employees. Not just in their day to day but in their entire journey with the business. It aids in the building of trust, satisfaction, gives a sense of belonging and above all, provides a compelling reason to stay!

Once the culture is set, Collin’s four steps come into play.

Get the right people on the bus.

The first stage in Collin’s approach requires Leaders to be extra rigorous in the selection process for getting new people on the bus. It is here where you must invest substantial time in evaluating each candidate and make systematic use of at least three evaluation devices (e.g., interviews, references, background, testing, etc.). When in doubt, do not bring the person on the bus. Let a seat go unfilled—taking on extra work as needed—until you have found the right person. Ensure your company does an exceptional job of retaining the right people on the bus to perpetuate your good hiring decisions for a very long time to come. (This is where your hard work of creating a culture worth being a part of more than pays off).

The idea that people are an important component of any company or organization is nothing new. However, In Collin’s next step, he goes beyond this commonplace wisdom to claim that having the right people in the right roles is where the magic truly happens. According to Collins’ model, people are THE essence of sustainable greatness, rather than simply being a component of it.

Get the right people in the right seats.

The aim here is to have 100% of the key seats on the bus filled with the right people. This doesn’t mean 100% of ALL seats within the business need to have the right people, but 100% of the key seats. If you think there might be a “wrong who,” first give the person the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he or she is in the wrong seat. Whenever possible, give a person the chance to prove themselves in a different seat, before drawing the conclusion that they are a wrong fit for the ride.

Get the wrong people off the bus.

Making changes to remove individuals from the business may be rigorous in the decision, but it mustn’t be ruthless in the implementation. Instead, help people exit with dignity and grace so that, later, the vast majority of people who have left your bus have positive feelings about the journey for as little or as long as they were on it. Be sure to conduct in depth autopsies around potential hiring mistakes, to identify it there have been any patterns in your previous approach and apply the lessons systematically to future hiring decisions.

Finally, put who before what.

When confronted with any problem or opportunity within your business, shift the decision from a “what” question (“what should we do?”) into a “who” decision (“who would be the right person to take responsibility for this?”). Spend a significant portion of time on people decisions: get the right people on the bus, get the right people in the right seats, get the wrong people off the bus, develop people into bigger seats, plan for succession, and so on. Develop a disciplined, systematic process for getting the right people on the bus. With each passing year, ensure the percentage of people decisions that turn out good versus bad continues to rise.

When going from an average company to an exceptional one, it becomes less of a question about where you’re headed—and more, about how far you can go. A question we at RE:geon are VERY excited to explore.

To follow our journey, please ensure you’ve liked all of our Social Media Channels as they’ll be plenty of announcements and news coming soon:

Linkedin: @regeon-training-ltd

Facebook: @REgeontraining

Instagram: @regeontraining

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