Catherine Bell is the founder of BluEra, an executive search and team transformation company, and the best-selling and award-winning author of The Awakened Company, a thought-provoking read that explores how treating businesses as communities can transform them for the better. Catherine speaks around the globe, and offers The Awakened Company’s services to help other teams awaken to a new concept of success.
By Catherine Bell
Nothing will have a greater impact on your business than your employees. And yet, so many of us have trouble building a high-performing, joyous team, no matter how many superstars we aim to hire. What is the missing element?
My experience—as well as plenty of research—points to inclusivity. I struggle with the word diversity, because as a woman, I am considered diverse yet I represent 50% of the population. Unfortunately, I am often one of the only women at the boardroom table.
Sometimes I feel incredibly alone. It can be really challenging feeling alone. I don’t want anyone to feel alone. I want people to feel included and to know that they belong in organizations, that we need different perspectives in organizations (the current model isn’t working—over 75% of businesses fail in their first 9 years).
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to building an inclusive team is unconscious bias. It leads us to hire people that align with our predisposed notions of who would be a fit, and most often favours candidates that are similar to ourselves.
The best technique for avoiding unconscious bias and evaluating a candidate effectively is mindful awakened hiring. That means checking in with your gut, heart, and head when hiring and being very present in interviews. It enables you to be cognizant of your unconscious bias, and truly gain an understanding of who the person is and how they can uniquely fit in the organization.
As the co-founder of BluEra, I’ve conducted countless interviews over the years for some of the largest organizations in the world and for serial entrepreneurs—but you don’t need to own an executive search firm to successfully select your next hire. Use these steps to guide you through a mindful interview with a potential candidate (and know that the interview is only one form of hiring; we also suggest case studies, lunches, and reference checks):
Before the Interview
Be clear what character, capabilities, and competencies you are looking for (we call this a Search Profile). Know what the successful factors are for the role, experience required, and most importantly personal characteristics, including values. In defining personal characteristics, remember that have differing perspectives and backgrounds will be advantageous for your organization.
Leave technology at your desk. Having your smartphone beeping with every incoming email—or even just sitting in sight reminding you of all the emails you have waiting—will keep you from being fully engaged in the interview process.
Before you begin, centre yourself. You could try a breathing exercise, drawing air into your belly, focusing your attention on the inhale and exhale. Simply observing your breath for a few minutes can help to clear your head.
Take a pause to review the candidate’s resume. This doesn’t mean skim through to find the key points you included in the job posting. Ideally, the candidate is prescreened for you in advance of an in-person interview either by phone or Skype.
During the Interview
Use the first few minutes to put the candidate at ease. They will often be nervous, so it’s best to start out with a little small talk rather than jumping into the serious questions. Put yourselves in their shoes and be compassionate.
Use the rest of the time to really get to know them, using your Search Profile as a guide. The more data points you get on candidates, the more likely you will be successful with that candidate. Ensure you know enough about their experience and personal characteristics. And as you conduct the interview, challenge yourself to be aware of your own unconscious bias.
Finally, always express gratitude for someone taking the time to come and meet you.
After the interview
Rate every candidate objectively on the Search Profile—that includes character, capabilities, and competencies. Rank and weight all criteria, and remember my mantra: people are often hired for technical skills and fired for personality.
If you need more evidence, get it in the follow up. You should follow up with every candidate to let them know next steps, and if they aren’t chosen, let them know why.
Inclusivity means a greater collective ability, and therefore increased profitability. Balanced companies have an open, energetic, merging quality to them, where all colours of the rainbow can manifest and be expressed. A multitude of perspectives come out, and right action emerges as a result of seeing all these perspectives. That’s definitely something to be grateful for.
Ready to awaken your own business? Get your copy of The Awakened Company, enlist The Awakened Company’s services and learn how companies are achieving a new standard of success. A best-seller within a week, one of Eight of the Best Business Books of 2015, and a Nautilus Silver Medal Winner for Best Business Book for 2015, it explores a new way of doing business: incorporating mindfulness and wisdom traditions to ultimately benefit companies, those involved in them, and the planet itself. It has earned praise from business leaders and industry experts, and is the blueprint for the successful executive search and team transformation company, BluEra.