Can you tell me about your first hire in the business?
When I started the business 10 years ago it was literally me working from my kitchen table and my local café, on my own for the first six months. My first hire was actually my cousin, so that was easy!
But my first hire outside of that was a woman who replaced my cousin. I used what I knew at the time about normal hiring practices, so I put an ad on Seek and got a bunch of candidates in for interviews. But I also wanted someone else there to judge the final three candidates, so I asked a friend of mine who was working at an ad agency to sit in on the interviews with me.
That was fantastic, because she was from a similar industry, was great at reading people and it was just another eye. We must have done a good job because the person we hired stayed with me for five years and helped grow the company significantly over that time.
How have your hiring practices changed over time?
Things have changed a lot since the early days. We now have a core team of 10, but because of the business we're in we also expand the team from October to January using contract staff.
Definitely the biggest change came about three years ago. We were going through a massive period of growth and we were needing to bring on around three more people, but I was struggling to find the time to recruit. My accountant recommended a guy from a company called STARF, which has a whole recruitment, behavioural management and performance improvement system, and that he might be willing to help me out.
So I initially approached them for what I thought was going to be just a bit of short term help, but it's now become a system we use fully in house, and something that has completely reshaped our staff management. That's been a real game changer for us because the system starts at the recruitment stage and continues right through a person's employment with us. It's rooted in values through action, and it's all behaviour based.
So, for example, we have a really rigorous interview process - it's three interviews, and they're all very in depth - but what we find is we really unearth people's values and where their behaviours sit. So when they come into the company they're completely aligned with the company's values and culture.
Once you've made a hire how do you help them integrate into your existing team?
Because of our processes it means new people coming into the company are all really well aligned to our culture. But we also have a really structured induction process, where new people to the company spend time in all parts of the business, so they can find out what they need to know about the company. It's also an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other a bit better as well, which is great when you're a small team.
Coming up in Your Business: What is the experience like for immigrant entrepreneurs who have set up businesses in New Zealand? If you've got a story to share about the highs and lows of being an immigrant entrepreneur, then drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org