Identify the right people to manage your growing business by hiring for culture, not skills
When medical equipment supplier Patient Choice began supplying a new product range to a different customer group, the business experienced a surge in demand.
To manage the rapid expansion, the business had to refine its recruitment strategy to identify the right people to manage the new team effectively.
Hire for culture not skills
When you’re a small business, recruitment tends to be an ad-hoc process. However, as the business grows, leaders need to think more about their recruitment strategy and what will give them the best results.
Patient Choice founder Neil Basil explained that his strongest team members are the ones who understand the order process all the way through the business, rather than only excelling in one small area.
When the business moved into a new supply area and had to recruit at scale, he made the decision to hire for culture over skills.
“Cultural fit is essential. Our mantra is that we hire Patient Choice people. You hire for culture and you train for skills. If you hire for skills and the culture doesn’t fit, it’s disruptive and can damage the business. I’d rather have somebody who fits with the team that we can develop rather than somebody who will divide the company,” managing director Neil Basil said.
Neil believes that hiring for cultural fit has an exponential positive effect on performance. The right people solve problems, lead by good examples and inspire the team to achieve, pulling everybody up. The wrong people, however, can drag the rest of the team down.
"I’d be happy to offer anybody six months’ work to find out if we like each other rather than setting the promise of a lifetime career and discovering after three months that we really don’t like each other."
Neil Basil, founder, Patient Choice
Adopt a multi-step recruitment process
A multi-step recruitment process has been a winning strategy to help Patient Choice get the right people on board.
After advertising roles on Indeed and LinkedIn, Neil reviews the resumes and invites all suitable candidates to an open evening. At the event, he tells the Patient Choice story, shows candidates around and explains the business model, sales process and how all the roles work.
Candidates who are still interested after the open evening are then invited to a formal interview. The most successful is then invited to work on a no obligation basis as part of a six-month probation period.
“We like to invite people in for a few weeks with no obligation. I’d be happy to offer anybody six months’ work to find out if we like each other rather than setting the promise of a lifetime career and discovering after three months that we really don’t like each other. We only want people who want to be here,” Neil said.
Don’t pigeonhole people
After identifying the right people, it’s essential to see where they will have the most impact. Instead of hiring people for specific roles, Patient Choice allows new starters to work in different departments and decides on their role at a later date.
During the six-month probation period, new employees spend two months in each department of the business. This allows Neil to see where the person shines and helps to show new starters how the entire business works.
“Usually you expect to be interviewed for a particular job and have a very narrow expectation about what that will be. But we’ve realised that we don’t want people to be pigeonholed. The people who go through that process appreciate why certain things happen,” Neil said.
It’s daunting for new starters to be moved into a different department after two months and hard for managers to keep training people, but there’s an understanding that the process helps to build trust between departments and a much stronger team.
Spend time on planning
For other leaders faced with recruiting at scale, Neil advises spending time on planning. Make sure you have the headspace to be able to step back and analyse which hires you need and when.
“I’ve always been the person who manages changes and works out what we’re going to do. Suddenly, we've got more people and more stuff going on that I can’t have my eyes on everything.
“I didn’t realise this massive growth really needed me to step back and plan it out again rather than doing the same thing we always had. If we were doing it now, I would treat it in the same way as when I started the business. Where do we feel we are going to be in two years’ time and how do you build that structure?”
location: East of England
business size: 10-49 People
business type: Health & care services
Top three takeaways
The right people can solve problems, lead by best practice examples and inspire your team to achieve, pulling everybody up.
Hire for culture, train for skills. Once you have identified a person as fitting the culture of your business, you can invest in upskilling them.
Try new starters in different parts of the business to see where their strengths are and finalise their role afterwards.