10 years ago, after another intensive weekend at Cranfield University’s Business Growth Programme for founders, it dawned on me that I had the wrong team. On the course we had to build a matrix of our staff, grading them A, B or C and it became clear to me that all of my staff were C-graders. I suddenly realised I had to replace them.

I knew that it wasn’t necessarily my team who were at fault but the process of finding those people that was the problem. We invested in performance management and people management, prioritising values and cultural fit in the recruitment phase. For many years I’d believed that the most important part of my business was how we created products through ideation, design or manufacturing processes. Then I discovered that it was nothing to do with the product but everything to do with the people.

How to find the best team

When we interview for new hires we focus on four non-skills-based competencies: drive, curiosity, relationships and taking ownership. These are the four core values that guide how I run the business. Each hiring team tests for three functional competencies. For a product designer, for example, these are market awareness, ideation and being pragmatic.

A hiring committee – including people who may be more junior than the candidate – is armed with their CV and a list of competency-based questions. They are asked to rate the person as a “strong hire”, “indifferent” or a “strong no hire”. If all three people on the hiring committee say it’s a strong hire, then we hire the person, but if there is any difference in opinion, then we move on to the next candidate.

Finding staff who share your values and culture is crucial to ensure business success.

Thanks to 100 stories for publishing our story on their website.