A new way to recruit?

I saw a program on BBC (yes, I live in Belgium but old habits die hard) about a small, family-run chocolatier (Who’s the Boss?, Sunday 6th March). They face, as pretty much all organizations do, increasing pressures and the new competition in the global marketplace. The program was basically an experiment involving the staff in the selection of a new Business Development Manager, a role seen as critical to the future success of the company.

Three candidates had been pre-selected and all spent a week on trial in the company. The only thing was that they didn’t know the staff was involved in the selection process.


Not only did they get the opportunity to meet, work and socialize with each of the candidates, they also had the opportunity to see, remotely how they promoted the company and product in a sales pitch people.

At the end of the week, the staff voted for the candidate they felt was the right person for the job. The empowerment for them was obvious from the interviews; they knew the importance of making the right choice. This was THEIR future too. And the confidence of knowing the workforce was behind the successful candidate must have played a significant part in her success in the first months of her job.

It looked like the perfect way of getting the right person for the job AND rapidly integrating them so they can start to make an impact immediately.

This led me to think about a number of the companies I’ve worked in. I’ve never seen this type of process used before. But I’ve seen many managers appointed to roles where culturally, skill-set wise or, worse still, both, it’s very quickly clear they’re not the right person for the job. As a result, I’ve seen high-performing teams disintegrate virtually overnight and highly engaged individuals leaving for pastures new. If the people themselves were more involved in the process, could this have been avoided?

Excellent organizations ensure they have the right people, in the right place, when they are needed. At the Business Excellence Institute, we have a training course specifically around the recruitment process, incorporating many of the concepts used in the program (although, hands up, while it does involve peers it doesn’t include a democratic voting process). The training is designed to give managers the tools & skills they need to recruit the talent they need.

It’s time for some new thinking.