Offering a grand to quit and cock-up of the month – how I built my dream team

Coloured pencils 

Image via Wikipedia

16 June 2010 by Sophie http://www.smarta.com/blog/2010/6/guest-blog-offering-a-grand-to-quit-and-cock-of-the-month—how-i-built-my-dream-team

Dominic Monkhouse is the UK managing director of web hosting business PEER 1, where he’s recruited more than 20 people since joining. He shares his most effective – and often unconventional – tricks for finding and keeping great talent.

Ask interviewees to draw a picture

The first thing I do when I interview people is hand them a blank piece of paper and a bunch of coloured pencils and ask them to draw whatever motivates or inspires them. The first part of the interview is talking about that. I didn’t even take cv’s into the 15 interviews I did last week. A cv is just an indicator the person’s got the technical abilities to do the job. It doesn’t say anything about them.

I always ask people what they like doing outside work. I’m not going to hire someone who can only say, “I like to spend time with my family” – how dull! I don’t want dull people to work for me, because my customer would find them boring too.

Get people inside and outside the company to help interview

I interview every single person we hire. I owe it to staff and customers to hire good people. But I get the other staff involved in interviewing too. Everyone is looking for the same thing, the same energy. We look for people who are self-motivated and have passion, who can take the initiative.

You can get another business owner or entrepreneur to interview alongside you. It really helps because sometimes you’re so vested in wanting to hire someone, you end up just hiring the least worst person you see. It helps to have someone who doesn’t have emotional interest in the business there to see things objectively. For example, I’ve used marketing agency bosses to hire marketing people before. The candidates don’t mind. It might be a bit more intimidating for them, but I’m not looking for someone who’s easily intimidated.

Ability testing

As well as phone and face-to-face interviews, we use strength finder tests, so we know the person can do the job and get on with it. So we’ll test for a sense of responsibility, which means they self-manage. We look for achiever strength, which means they don’t just want to go and lie on the beach.  Buy a book called Strengthsfinder 2.0 – it talks you through the test and what strengths you should look for in each role. You use a code in the back which gives you access to the test. We buy 15 or 20 at a time, for around £7 each. The cost is worth it.

Offer people £1,000 to quit

Within the first two weeks of joining a company an employee knows whether they’ve made a mistake and if the company’s not right for them. But the employer can’t tell that. So we offer new recruits £1,000 to walk away after those first two weeks. If they don’t take it, it means they’re happy, so you know it’s the right decision. But it means they’re forced to think about it.

If you don’t try to have that conversation that early on, the next break point is after three months, when you’ve realised the person isn’t right. The cost of finding someone again is huge. And it might be that the next person isn’t right, and the person after that – in which case it could be nine months before you find the right person.

The two-week idea saves you the three months trying to work out if the person’s right, and if you have to spend that £1,000, it’s money well spent. It means you can crack on. Although no one’s ever taken the money and left us yet!

Keeping good people: cock of the month

I want to keep my team happy. So I give them free breakfast, free fruit in the office, we have Beer Fridays (free beer!), a mini-bar, a dartboard, a Wii. We have free food day the day before payday, when everyone’s skint.

We always talk about the state of our finances, which is something too many small businesses are nervous about doing. It should be transparent – it makes the team feel part of creating the success.

We celebrate our failures as well as our successes. We have a ‘cock of the month’ award for the biggest mistake made. It’s an actual model of a cock – or a rooster, I should probably say! I’ve won it myself before.

The little black book

You go to other people’s offices where a chair’s broken in the meeting room because no one thinks it’s their job to fix it – it just creates a bad impression.

So everyone gets a little black book when they start. You write in it the stuff we should change, things you don’t think work in the company. But I don’t have time to fix all those things – so I tell the team that if it costs less than £100 to fix, and it makes the business a better place to work, just expense it and do it. Once every six months we sit down and look at everyone’s black books and share them to fix the bigger problems in the company.

Keep finding ideas

Lots of ideas I get come from other companies I’ve visited or work with. Or ones I’ve spotted in ‘best companies to work for’ lists – you just give them a call and ask if you can see how things are done. You just need to keep bringing in ideas that work for other businesses.

Find out more about PEER 1 Hosting

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About dommonkhouse

Dominic Monkhouse @dommonkhouse entrepreneur, smallholder, Geordie, kite surfing, snowboarding, dog owning, J109 sailor, pilot, husband, father and runner dominicmonkhouse.com
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4 Responses to Offering a grand to quit and cock-up of the month – how I built my dream team

  1. Pingback: Five simple ways to keep your staff happy « Service Obsession™

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