Finding the right person to fill a critical role has always been one of the more challenging aspects of running a business, as good or bad hires can either accelerate or halt your company’s growth. Reflecting on and defining the outcome-based priorities for your team can crystalize the type of role you may need to fill, but there are some key ways business owners can shore up the hiring process to ensure better results.
Resurgens’ Head of Talent, Bryan West, joins Head of Business Development, Henry Chancy, to share tips for business owners and entrepreneurs on recruiting and team expansion strategies. Bryan has an extensive background in talent and selection processes. He led the private equity practice at the leadership and talent advisory firm ghSMART before joining Resurgens to focus primarily on organization, leadership and talent development for the firm’s portfolio companies.
His top seven strategies for business owners and entrepreneurs to level-up their recruiting efforts include:
- Define success metrics: Pinpoint the role’s exact scorecard, creating the prism through which you evaluate candidates.
- Hire for the gaps: As a founder or leader, it’s critical to be honest with yourself about where you and your current team excel, as well as any weaknesses or skill gaps—design future roles to plug those holes in the boat.
- Design a process to analyze data: With as much objectivity as possible, design a process to capture and analyze data during the interview and assessment exercise.
- Set up for interview success: Prepare both mentally and physically with a question list and scorecard, ensuring you take the time to complete your impressions immediately after the interview (while the information is still fresh). Ensure that you stay present and intensely curious with the goal of truly understanding that person and how they get things done.
- Request references: Even though the talent market today is hot and fast, do not forgo this step. It’s a critical part of the recruiting process and provides third-party validation needed to address any hesitations you may have.
- Hire slow, fire fast: Do not fall into the trap of “we just need somebody right now.” Get it right and be patient. Don’t get hung up on sunk costs or time if it’s not working out.
- Actively avoid association bias: Just because somebody attended a big-name university or worked at an impressive company, don’t assume that the stereotypes that align with that institution follow that person. The same is true for potentially negative associations—strong performers often learn rapidly and then depart from underperforming businesses, and that experience is a valuable tool in a potential employee’s toolkit.
We invite you to learn more by watching the video. If you are interested in speaking with Bryan in more depth on this topic, you can connect with him here.
Resurgens Technology Partners Head of Talent, Bryan West speaks with Head of Business Development, Henry Chancy:
Henry Chancy (00:04):
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Software Sessions. We have a really interesting discussion lined up for our entrepreneur audience today, to talk specifically about talent and really how to better one’s recruiting processes and overall talent management, and to do so, we’re really excited to be joined by one of our own here at Resurgens, our Head of Talent, Bryan West. Bryan, thanks for joining us.
Bryan West (00:27):
Happy to talk with everybody today.
Henry Chancy (00:30):
Awesome. Well, Bryan, maybe to kick things off, it’d be great to provide our viewers with a background of yourself and hit on your current role here at Resurgens.
Bryan West (00:39):
So, I often like to say I’ve lived a few lives. I actually grew up in a family of entrepreneurs that built businesses in a range of industries, building materials, timber, finance, and actually yes, software, just like we invest in here at Resurgens now. In my twenties, I did not go start my own business and instead I found myself in the military and actually in the Marines, what was then their special operations capable group called Force Recon. It was an amazing high-performing kind of small team environment and I was very fortunate to be a part of it. Did four years and loved it, but about halfway through realized that it wasn’t going to be a career, so started to think about how best finish my education and take that next step and evolving really into the person I wanted to be around age 40 or so.
So, got out, finished school. I did an MBA and then went straight to McKinsey, which is a global strategy and management consulting firm. And they attack a lot of “what” problems for organizations of all kinds, but mostly the true private sector business community. And that was largely like an MBA 2.0, where you get to more firsthand, see a lot of the “what” problems, start to get married in with the “who” issues around how to actually derive positive impact or impact things in a positive way. And then around that same time where this “who” light bulb started really come on in my mind, these data points started to get connected, I got a call from a boutique leadership advisory firm called ghSMART, and that became quite formative for me personally. And it’s been a great place that’s impacted how I think about things and very much how I approached my talent role today at Resurgens.
Henry Chancy (02:21):
Yeah, great. Maybe we hit on ghSMART here for a second or two, really a pioneer when it comes to talent management. So, it’d be great to just learn more about the company and their overall methodology.
Bryan West (02:34):
Yeah. So, first and foremost, it’s an organization filled with extremely high-quality people. And when I say high quality people, I mean both high quality from a values perspective. I mean, these are just good human beings, but also like extremely solid and distinctive skillsets. In other words, fit for purpose though, right? It’s a skillset meant to do a certain thing. And that whole philosophy very much carries out into how to view the world and engage with a client base. And ghSMART’s core premise, ultimately it comes down to collaborating with leaders to ensure that they are being proactive and disciplined around what has become called talent management. And for a while, there wasn’t really a title to that. But over the last 25 years, that’s certainly become it.
And I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “right person, right role,” several times. I mean, that’s basically it, but look, there’s a lot of intention around doing that right in terms of the sequencing of how you think about things. For instance, first and foremost, translate that vision into a strategy, into priorities for the business to go tackle over the next few years, and then segment those priorities out and allocate them out across the team. Those priorities becomes a scorecard for that group or that person or that role. And that’s how you evaluate talent, both that’s sitting in your business today and if you need to hire into the business, that’s the core premise that ghSMART just makes sure that discipline is what they’re all about installing into the talent equation.
Henry Chancy (04:09):
Awesome, well pinging off of that… I think one of the topics that our entrepreneur viewership would love to get more insight into is how to heighten their recruiting and overall team expansion strategy. And so to ask you—what are some of the best tips you can provide our audience?
Bryan West (04:29):
Yeah, so I’ll start by building right off of where I just was on kind of the ghSMART philosophy. So first, be as clear as humanly possible in what the definitions of success are for the overall business and for the roles you’re interviewing for. Ideally, those are on some form of multi-year horizon, so that when it comes time to evaluate and decide on a candidate or compare candidates, that scorecard becomes a prism through which you evaluate an individual’s or a team’s holistic profile. And again, any individual is going to have a general list of strengths and development areas. The scorecard just makes it all the more specific to think about, “Hey, what’s that individual’s odds for success going to be compared to that individual against that set of the priorities?”
Second, know yourself, especially if you’re a founder or a leader or the CEO, and you’re hiring somebody right underneath you, know what you’re great at, know what you’re not as solid at or what you just are less interested in and make sure that comes to life in the scorecard underneath you. And by the way, I encourage you to build a scorecard for yourself if you don’t have one, it’s informative.
Third, set out a plan in crude terms, this is kind of the process-y side of things, to collect and analyze the data that you get from an interview process or an assessment process as objectively as you can on any given candidate. Best practice typically is set up multiple structured interviews across certain key stakeholders with everybody agreed upon questions about what’s going to be asked of whom. References, number two. And then occasionally we would recommend, I would recommend, doing some psychometric testing just to add all more objectivity to it.
And then when it comes to the interviews themselves, like actually in it, of course, there’s a lot of art and science and reps here that help you get better, but some basic blocking and tackling I’d say. One, like immediately before and immediately after, set aside time to mentally prepare and physically prepare in some cases for the interview from a time management standpoint, thinking about comparing the scorecard to the candidate profile, have some hypotheses about where you’re probably going to be able to go deep on some topics and then make sure you have time on the back end again to digest and be brief. Don’t just go to the next meeting, don’t just go to the next interview. Actually think about that person and write it down.
In the interview itself basically, I hate to need to say it, but be present, don’t be distracted. Two, and perhaps more importantly, this kind of forces you to be present, be intensely curious. That’s the disposition you’re going for here for a couple of reasons. One, your goal is to understand that person, how they think, what they’ve gotten done and how they gotten it done. But also it provides the person being interviewed the ability to understand, or kind of the lens that, “oh goodness, this person actually is trying to understand me.” And it can actually be a nice seed of relationship building right out of the gate.
And then finally I’d say, set up references, set up the whole topic of references in the interview process. I do it in the very first interview I ever engage with anybody. “Hey, when the time comes, we’re going work with you to talk to references, who should we talk to from company X or company Y and what would they say about you, both positively and constructively?” And that becomes a foundation again for you just to come back and tap into that. By the way, you also get some interesting data out of the answers to that question.
Henry Chancy (07:52):
Yeah, great stuff. And maybe on the same cord, what are some of the red flags to be aware of?
Bryan West (07:59):
Yeah, it’s amazing how many times the basics are, not missed, but discounted. I’ll pick up right where I left off. Neglecting the references, do them, references are absolutely essential. Even though, talent is, to say the least, like a challenging and hot and fast market and topic today, it’s hard to lock down people. Don’t hesitate to not do references. You need to do them.
On a similar thread, the other watch out, I’d say, or red flag or a misstep is speed. I often hear or a version of “I just need a body. I just need somebody right now.” Especially if there’s a massive near term pain point or unexpected departure or if a business is going through hyper-growth. In general, hire slow, get it right. Hire slow, fire fast in simple terms, even in fast growing businesses.
And then the third misstep I’d see is stereotyping. Just because somebody worked or went to school at X or Y university or worked at A or B company, don’t assume that the stereotypes at a high level that go with that institution follow that person. For example, just because somebody was in the Marines that does not mean they’re some disciplined operator, you need to actually spend time with them in the interview process and understand it.
Henry Chancy (09:15):
Well, I think we can all get on the same page that talent is critical to a successful business. So, thanks for sharing your thoughts and generally, thanks for coming on.
Bryan West (09:25):
Yeah, you bet. Thanks, Henry. Thanks, everybody.
Henry Chancy (09:27):