You already demand skills, education, and experience with any new hire. Why not screen for engagement as well? Yesterday I was on the phone with a CEO who was lamenting the fact that his two newest employees weren’t working out as well as he had hoped. He may need to let them go, only weeks after they joined his company, because they just haven’t gotten on board with the culture, performance expectations, or engagement levels expected of his workforce.
This scenario, disastrous for both employer and employee, is one that repeats far too frequently. Let’s explore how you can avoid it, and build your workforce through engagement-centered recruiting. Recruiting is hard enough to get right without me recommending yet another criterion for you to consider, but rather than making your hiring process more complex, let’s try to make it simpler. Hiring for engagement may actually eliminate some of the exigencies that are bogging down your current process. I spoke with a recruitment expert who knows how to be more effective in the hiring procedure. Her name is Sue Marks and she is founder and CEO of a talent management company called Pinstripe. Established in 2005, and now a $100M company, Pinstripe has offices in Milwaukee, London, Dubai, and Hong Kong, and places 100,000 employees per year for over 80 large clients. And Pinstripe didn’t get there by accident. Sue knows what she’s talking about when it comes to effective recruitment. According to Sue, “Employee engagement starts long before the recruiting process begins.” Prior to initiating recruitment services for any new client, the Pinstripe team first establishes what they call the “employee proposition.” This concept is based on the hiring company’s brand, and it helps guide all recruitment efforts toward that elusive and all-important prize known as fit—i.e. compatibility between the company and the new recruit. “This process immediately focuses our search parameters and begins to attract candidates that are far more attuned to the culture and goals of the organization. A company must magnetize the right people.” Sue Marks is on a mission to change the way leaders view talent. In her experience, “Everything else can be copied—business models, products, and access to capital are nothing more than table stakes these days.” According to Sue, the key to engagement, intrapreneurship, and innovation is the “proper pairing of talent with what an organization is at its core.” I couldn’t agree more. Business Case This philosophy of fit, and the notion that engagement is an ambition best begun at the hiring stage, are alive and well in many high-performing organizations. Limeade, a health and wellness company in Bellevue, Washington, has been carefully selecting new hires since its founding in 2006, based on candidates’ proclivity toward intrapreneurship and engagement. CEO Henry Albrecht is clear, “The people who are most revered at Limeade are the ones who act like owners. They constantly go the extra mile in helping the company, our customers, and each other.” This emphasis seems to be paying off. Recently, Limeade scored higher in the Intrapreneur Index study than any other company to date. In order to hire intrapreneurs and fully engaged recruits, Limeade asks candidates to talk about past instances of intrapreneurial behavior during the interview process. “For example,” describes Henry, “Because one of our core values is to own it, we want prospective employees to describe a situation where they took full responsibility for the negative outcome of a project—and how they learned from their mistakes. The same goes for other values, such asspeak plainly, we’re a team, and anything is possible.” Limeade also has a no jerks hiring policy, but I didn’t ask how they screen for that one. If you know a company that has mastered the art and science of recruitment, let me know. I’d like to write about it. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or on Twitter @larrymyler.