Spot Great Talent to Build a Strong Team Culture

Beatriz Boavida
Mar 07, 2024
7 min read

Long-term relationships are more valuable than money.

That mindset is key when building a solid company.

Besides looking to nurture the relationship you have with each employee, you need to figure out a way to build a team you really connect with. And here we are talking about hiring.

You cannot fundamentally change people. So, as a leader, your best hope is to be able to identify the ones with whom you can potentially connect with and develop a good relationship with. Now, there are steps you can take and things to look out for in this process.

In this article, you will gain access to Peter Engelbrecht’s – co-founder of Firmafon and CEO coach – simple yet game-changing approach to hiring. And trust us, when you realise how critical hiring is for achieving your company’s goals, you may even say that 80% of your company’s performance is determined by who you hire.

Meet the leader: Peter Engelbrecht

As co-founder and CEO of Firmafon for 10 years, Peter Engelbrecht experienced the importance of having the right people working with him. 

There needs to be a mutual match between employer and future employee. And during those years at Firmafon, Peter created a simple and effective process for hiring great talent, where he aligned skills with company values, and included chemistry in the mixture.

Hiring is about intuition, chemistry and subjectivity

After a first interview, for Peter Engelbrecht, a great hiring criterion is asking yourself “Would I be interested in going out and having a beer with this person?

The reasoning behind this idea is that not only should you be genuinely excited about working with that person – as also stated by Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals – but you should also feel that there is chemistry between you and that person.

Now, before you get too carried away with chemistry, it is crucial to stress that you should not base your hiring judgment solely on personal chemistry. There is another type of chemistry that can get you more insights if that person is a good match in the long run, and that is work chemistry - Would you enjoy working together? Do their attitudes towards work match yours?

With some people, you may feel they are not actually listening to you. With other people, you may have the feeling that they tend to take what you say defensively, even though your words come from a very constructive place. And with some, you will feel that it just clicks, and they get what you are saying. 

And you want to get the latter – whenever possible. The question is HOW?

One common mistake leaders often make is to overlook the subjective aspect of hiring. They tend to believe there is an objective work environment, typically one that should suit everybody. The problem is that when you are committed to building an environment everyone feels they belong in, you will most likely lack clarity, meaning it will become more challenging to objectively communicate what it is all about.

One of the things employees value the most is clarity. So, instead of trying to fit everyone in the same picture, as a founder or CEO, you should dedicate time to designing the work environment you love. Then, make it as clear as water when you communicate it.

This helps people understand how things work and decide if they desire to work in this kind of environment or if it is better to look for something else. Having people not picking your company to work for is fine.

Your goal is to find the ones that do genuinely want to work in the environment you design.

How you write the questions and how you evaluate each skill will determine if you effectively identify the talent you are seeking for your team. According to Peter Engelbrecht, when you are designing the interview questions, you should think of your company’s values and create a set of questions for each.

Here is Peter’s example:

Let’s dive deeper into how you can make this process flawless.

Design the hiring process for every role

Peter Engelbrecht based his hiring process on a book called Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. He made it a 4-step approach that leads to successful hires:

  1. Develop a scorecard for each position. This is similar to a job description but includes everything they are going to deliver, how they are going to be measured, etc.

  2. Design the interview questions to examine the whole scorecard. For instance, if the scorecard says a person in a certain sales position is going to have to make 90 calls a day, an easy interview question could be “How many calls a day did you make in your previous job?”

  3. Do a phone interview. This is your first chance to start feeling the chemistry and sensing their attitude, personality, and motivation.

  4. Do references. Here you want to get to the not-so-over-positive image.

How to use references to get to the “dirt”

Obtaining an accurate profile (strengths and weaknesses) of a potential employee can be a challenge. So, Peter suggests the following approach:

  1. Start by asking your potential hire to give you references and ask him/her: “What would Ben [name of the manager] say if I called him and asked about your three biggest strengths and your three biggest development areas?” followed by “Are you okay with me calling Ben about that?” – if the answer is YES, perfect. If the answer is NO, you ask “Why not?

  2. Do a fact check with the reference of your potential hire: “Jim [the potential hire] said it was okay to call you. He's looking for a position as a product manager in my team. I know he worked as a product manager for you, is that right? When did he start? When did he finish? What were his key assignments and responsibilities?

  3. Then, go deeper and explore the not-so-pretty image of your potential hire by asking a key question: “So if you were to rate Jim as 1 being ‘the worst product manager you've ever seen’ and 10 being ‘the best you had could ever imagine’ – How would you rate Jim?

  4. If the answer is 10, the call is over and you hire Jim.

  5. If the answer is below 6 (including 6); the call is also over and you do not hire Jim.

  6. If the answer is 7 or 8, or maybe even 9, ask about three additional questions (e.g. “What did Jim miss?”).

Key takeaways

To form a great team, you need to be able to identify astonishing hires. There are a couple of things you need to realise about this process:

Peter Engelbrecht bases his hiring approach on 4-step you can also implement yourself:

  1. Develop a scorecard for each position;

  2. Design the interview questions to examine the whole scorecard;

  3. Do a phone interview to sense the chemistry;

  4. Do references to get to the “dirt”.

Make your team love mondays!

Get a demo or try for free today.