From Reflection to Recruitment

Those who know me well are very aware of my opinion on the importance of reflection. It is something I take seriously and practice daily. It was during a moment of reflection this morning that formed the idea for this piece.

We had a visit from Chris Reeve this morning, I like Chris, not only is he one of Swarm Apprenticeships early apprentices, but he also challenges me to look at things differently. It was after his departure that I sat down with a cuppa to reflect on what we had discussed.

Now, Chris and I have mutual devotion to our beloved Norwich City FC, as you can imagine, there was a small segment of our meeting this morning dedicated to the subject. For those unaware of it, Chris and Jack Reeve, amongst other things, run the Talk Norwich City podcast, which has become a very successful and informative view on all things Norwich City.

However, it was looking at the cup containing my sweet, brown and rather satisfying brew which made me reflect on how success comes not from individuals, but rather how individuals fit into and are allowed to flourish within a larger entity.

There is a wonderful example of this from Norwich City’s Championship winning team, player such as Teemu Pukki, who was written off at team such as Celtic and Christoph Zimmermann, who went from almost unknown to becoming a natural leader. The point I’m trying to make here is that when it comes to recruiting people into any organisation, the big question is do they fit into what you are trying to do?

I was at a business event at Carrow Road earlier this year, the Norwich City sporting director, Stuart Webber, laid out how the whole club had been restructured to come in line with its mission. From kiosk staff to playing staff, the whole culture had been brought in line with the vision of what appears to be an inspirational leader, who had been allowed to mould that vison even when many around doubted him.

Were there other players around deemed to possess greater skills than Pukki or Zimmermann? Of course, just look at some of the other teams in the championship last season, big names on big money, did they succeed and win promotion? No.

When it comes to recruiting the right people for any organisation, my belief is basing any decision on skills and knowledge alone are a shortcut to future problems. Over the last five years Swarm Apprenticeships have seen time and time again, when recruiting, you can, to a point build skill, however, it is a far greater challenge to align culture and attitude.

That is where the skill of a good recruiter is invaluable, aligning candidates with the organisation they are working with, looking at all aspects of the position, candidate and how this will fit with the organisations culture. Easily said, not so easily applied.

Some of Swarms greatest successes have come from cultural fit and even having a gut feeling which comes not only from knowing the recruitment world, but also tacit business knowledge. Many of these candidates have risen through organisations and into managerial positions, all very satisfying.

That is how a team like Norwich City beat ‘far superior’ teams this season, not through having the best players, but by having players which fitted into a vision and believed in the culture around them. That is how businesses go from being ok, to springing out of the pack and making a difference.

You want competitive advantage, then build a great culture and then hire people who fit with your culture and believe what you believe. You want great people, then get a great recruitment team. You want a great recruitment team, then hire one which not only understands this, but has lived it!

Thanks’ Chris, you got my brain going as usual.

Harry Harris