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The Way You Make Me Feel – Why Traditional Interviews Aren’t Fit For Purpose

31st March 2023
International Speaker Jeff Dewing giving a masterclass on recruitment to a group of CEOs in Malta

This blog first appeared in The Foundation for Human Resources in Malta, where I had the pleasure of delivering a masterclass on this topic to a group of CEOs and HR Directors last week. 

The world has changed, whether we like it or not – and it’s time for businesses to change with it. 

It has taken the entry of Millennials and Gen Z into the workforce to show us what we should have already known for years: that the key to recruitment and retention is to ask people what they want from their jobs, not tell them. 

But at least one old adage remains true: “People join a company, and they leave a boss”. 

And you don’t have to be a genius to see that there’s been a lot of ‘leaving’ going on of late, as the Great Resignation continues. 

It’s human nature to join a new business full of optimism and bright ideas about how you’re going to make a difference. How demotivating it must be to come up against a bad line manager. 

‘Bad’ is subjective, of course, and what makes a manager the wrong one depends on the person he or she is managing. But it’s clear that anyone who owns a company should make sure their managers are actively helping their teams succeed. 

And that’s about empowering people. 

What gets you out of bed?

In fact, studies at major universities such as Duke, and – as quoted by Daniel Pink in his book Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – MIT, have shown that empowering your people is much more important than offering them more money.  

According to Pink, people who are offered a performance-related bonus will only actually do better if the task is purely physical. Once it takes any amount of actual knowledge or brain-power, the promise of a bonus actually makes them perform worse. 

What really motivates people, Pink says, is autonomy, mastery (defined as the urge to become more skilled at something) and purpose. Not cold, hard cash. 

It turns out people want to have a say in their future, and a purpose to aim for. And along the way, they want to grow and feel challenged. 

Pink published Drive in 2009, just after the Great Financial Crash, but this concept remains as true as ever in 2023 – just after the Great Resignation. 

If it wasn’t clear more than a decade ago, then it definitely is now: the status quo isn’t working. It’s time to think differently. 

The problem with interviews 

Where I believe people begin to get retention wrong is that they see it as something that begins after a new employee has settled into their role. 

To me, it begins the second that an employee meets you for the first time – at their first interview.  

At Cloudfm, we don’t think traditional interviews are fit for purpose. And that’s why we no longer do them. Instead, our process involves bringing prospective talent into our offices to meet our people, experience a typical work day, and take part in a series of group tasks to gauge whether they’re a good fit for us – and whether we’re a good fit for them. 

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and an interview is as much a referendum on the company as it is on the candidate. 

Instead, making sure you get the right person at the interview stage is what sets you up for an ongoing retention and loyalty process. And the interview process is crucial, because it builds the foundation for the rest of the experience. 

Culture is key 

But I don’t want to give you the impression that this is a quick fix to help you retain all of your best talent in a landscape where more people move jobs than ever before.  

Because there’s really no point doing any of the above without putting in place the culture to back it up. 

As I said earlier, people want to control or at least influence their destinies more than anything else. They want autonomy in their jobs and purpose in their lives. So your entire culture must rest on empowering your people to have autonomy and freedom 

And how do you do that? Well, it comes back to those line managers again.  

I delve into this more in my masterclass, “The Way You Make Me Feel: Recruitment and Retention on Steroids”, but the key here is the distinction between a manager and a coach. 

Simply put, a manager marks your homework, while a coach helps you get the best grade possible. 

Ultimately, you want your line managers to be ‘coaches’, not ‘managers’. You want them to empower their teams to do their best work through mentorship, not come in at the end and tell them whether they did a good job or not. 

Empowering your people

But as a CEO, I also know that the buck stops with me. Empowering staff is something that needs to happen from the top down. After all, my Heads of Department will only be able to give autonomy, mastery, and purpose to their teams if I’m able to do it for them. 

And that’s about setting a culture where they themselves feel empowered to be coaches, not managers, and to have the courage to put their teams first. 

Ultimately, when faced with a big decision, you want every one of your employees to stop thinking ‘but what if i fall’, and instead start saying ‘but what if I fly’. And when that happens, you know your culture is right. 

The world has changed, but the guiding principles should have been clear all along. As Maya Angelou famously said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you’d like to book Jeff as a keynote speaker or to give a masterclass to your business, get in touch on our contact page.

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