As every successful entrepreneur knows, the key to being able to create and execute a strategic plan is having the right people in place. This article details the first step that Lawline took in transforming our hiring process to hire and retain “A” players.
Lawline’s Past Mistakes in Hiring Process: Lack of Planning & Processes
Our past mistakes in hiring were a result of a lack of advanced planning and uniform processes. For example, we would post a job description and then bring a candidate into the office without knowing how we were going to conduct their interview. The individual would first meet with the Department head, who would review their resume and often ask about their interest in the position. After that, if the conversation went well, we would bring in any other Executive team members who were available at the moment. All of us, including the CEO, would ask the same questions about their resume and why they wanted to work at Lawline. At the conclusion of their interview, the candidate was often frustrated, exhausted, and hungry because we had not told them how long they would be interviewing as we did not know ourselves.
Following the madness of these interviews, we would gather together as a group, or separately with a member of the Business Operations team, to express whether or not we liked the candidate. Even if people were able to say that they did or did not like the candidate, they were often unable to articulate the reasons behind their feelings. In truth, we were drawing conclusions based on gut instincts more than anything else. Additionally, after weeks of interviewing many candidates, we would often forget why we liked a specific candidate and would then have to bring them back for more of the same questions that we asked in the initial round. In the end, when making a decision to hire a candidate or not, we would ask ourselves whether we felt “pretty good” about the person, and usually said yes because we had the safety of giving a new hire a trial period of 30 days. Through that method, we hired some great people, but also hired many who ended up not being the right fit, and in the past 10 years, we have had over 50 employees revolving through our door (we are currently a 20-person company). As a result, we lost valuable time and resources from training these individuals and their replacements because we did not have the right plans and processes in place.
First Step in Lawline’s Transformation: Embracing The WHO Process
The spark that led the fire of our hiring transformation came from our Executive Coach (and author), Mark Green of Performance Dynamics Group, who recommended that we check out the book Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. The most important part of the WHO process was that it transformed our standard from “pretty good” to “I am thrilled” to add this individual to the Lawline team. WHO recommends first creating a Job Scorecard for the position, then implementing a 4-Part Interview Process. This initially scared our Executive team, who thought that the process would take more time than they had to give. It turned out, though, that this new method saved us time and made interviewing so much easier as it came with pre-written questions for all 4 interviews.
As we learned when we adopted this new process, knowing which questions to ask during each round was liberating. Interviewers were no longer focused on coming up with their next questions. Rather, they were putting all of their energy into listening and taking notes on everything shared by the candidates, and determining whether those answers satisfied the requirements of the Job Scorecard. In addition, the advanced planning and new process took the burden off of the interviewers prior to meeting the candidate by removing the stress of identifying which are the “right” and “wrong” questions to ask. This new process embraced Lawline’s strategy of personal freedom by giving employees more time before and after interviews. Additionally, it allowed us to involve more team members in the process because they did not need to have a familiarity with the skills for the position; all they needed was proper training on how to conduct the WHO interview through the assigned questions. Ultimately, the candidates had a better, more organized experience as well, which reflected positively on their impression of the company. It was a WIN WIN, as all parties involved were happier than they would have been during our old interview structure.
Throughout the past two years, we have consistently hired A players, and both our revenue and culture are stronger than ever. In future articles, I will share Step 2 in Transforming Your Hiring Method: The Scorecard & Core Values Integration and Step 3 in Transforming Your Hiring Method: The Power of Google Docs.
To learn more about Lawline’s experience in transforming its hiring process, watch VP of Business Operations, Michele Richman’s interview with Julia Pimsleur filmed as a part of Julia’s Million Dollar Women’s Master Class, in which Julia teaches female entrepreneurs how to create a strategic plan to get to $1M in revenue faster, and how to increase sales via more effective marketing, outsourcing and planning, among other important business lessons.
As Lawline's VP of Business Operations, Michele helps Lawline recruit and retain A players, and works to create an engaging, vibrant, collaborative work environment for Lawliners and the other like minded companies who share its open tech work space. Michele recently completed her first triathlon with Team Triumph, a women's only tri-group and looks forward to her next competition.