The Army is exceptional at illustrating the importance of a cohesive team including of course, strong leadership and structure. But it’s also vital to recognise everyone’s core skills, recruit team players and hold a strong set of values with which everyone can engage meaningfully.
The single most important reason for our business success has been the team of people who collectively work and own the company with us. If companies get the right people in the right positions, they will reap the benefits financially, and have the added benefit of being able to enjoy the journey with a cohesive, effective team – I know we have.
I’d like to share the simple secrets of our success in finding – and keeping – the best people for our company. Here are my five top tips for recruiting…
1. Find a ‘fit’
When recruiting, ensuring that candidates ‘fit’ these principles is at the forefront of our minds along with the more obvious ‘can they do the job?’ If a candidate can’t sign-up to our values, then they are not for us. We have been known to recruit people without direct experience in their current role because they fit the company so well, and because you can train people to do a job, but not always to change their values – in this sense we care less about what you know than who you are.
Of course the right fit does not come along every day, and we are always on the look out for good people who might understand our organisation. These people might not join, or be invited to join, for many months or years, but that leaves plenty of time to get to know them first.
2. Be flexible
We offer every type of flexible working arrangement around: part time, flexi time, working from home, sabbatical, zero hours contracts, foreign working. You name it and it is an option for our employees. Working mothers employed on a part time basis currently make up a quarter of our workforce. They flexibly work their hours around their childcare needs, and this has been hugely beneficial in attracting extremely high calibre personnel.
3. Share success
We offer a slice of the business success through shareholdings in the company. Everyone has allocated shares after an initial six month probationary period. When the business makes a profit, a proportion of that money is shared out amongst the shareholders. Employees take this ownership seriously, and they have a genuine thirst for the company to succeed, further creating cohesion and strength.
4. It’s about more than money
Mirroring the core motivations unearthed by Dan Pinks. We offer mastery, challenge and the chance to make a contribution to our employees. Research has shown that when facing cognitive problems these are the motivators that achieve maximum results for a business. So if you felt that you needed to offer large sums of money to attract the best employees, you are quite possibly wrong. Offer your employees a chance to master a particular skill, give them daily challenge to improve and the real chance to make a difference (to the community, to customers to the UK, to the world; whatever fits).
5. Take it to the top
Getting the recruitment right also applies to the senior management team too and, for us, securing support and guidance for the company through engaging Non-Executive Directors with the appropriate skills, in exchange for a slice of our success, has been well worth it. For example, one of our Non-Executive Directors is Rory Underwood, Ex-England and Leicester Tigers Rugby Player, and RAF jet pilot. Rory now owns and operates a successful team development consultancy and his knowledge and guidance has been invaluable in helping us to crystallise our vision and strengthen the bonds of our team.
We’re not perfect – we’ve made many mistakes along the way, and we’ve been through some really rough times, but we’ve managed to hold on to our most valuable asset: our people. And with every step that we take closer to our ultimate business goals, we look back and realise that we got the team bit right, and that’s a vital part of our current and future success.
Carl Benfield is Founder and Managing Director of Prescient Power (www.prescientpower.co.uk), a renewable energy company based in Leicestershire. Following a successful military career as a Major in the Army, Carl set about creating a truly ethical and sustainable company bringing real alternatives to our dependence on fossil fuels. Established in 2009, and now working with companies such as National Trust and the RSPB, Carl and his team provide the means for businesses to take control of their energy and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.