How can you measure values?
In recent years, the art and science of candidate selection has progressed dramatically due to the increasing sophistication of competency based interviewing. Where it's employed correctly and rigorously (and let’s face it, there are still plenty of instances where it is not), it has helped to eliminate the traditional, unstructured interview style which relied heavily on ‘gut reaction’ and innate presumptions or prejudices.
However the competency based approach is not infallible. Yes, it can provide valuable insights into an individual's preferred style of working and can help predict behaviours in future situations. But when an organisation is trying to build a business model founded on particular values, how do you go about measuring something so intangible and personal in any meaningful way?
Spotlight on Metro bank
When our client, Metro Bank, opened its first branch in July 2010, it became the first new entrant to the UK’s high street banking sector in more than 130 years, by 2020 it aims to have at least 200 stores. But how does it believe it can achieve this in the face of such heavily entrenched and well-established opposition?
The company’s strategy is to outflank its competition in the all-important area of customer service. For example, branches are open from 8am to 8pm during the week and from 8am to 6pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sundays and bank holidays (yes, that’s right, a bank open on a bank holiday). However if the bank is to fulfill its expansion plans it must recruit, develop and retain people, who don’t just pay lip service to the idea of good customer service, but who are genuinely committed to providing it.
Matching company & candidate
Of course, as Metro Bank's RPO partners, we realised that identifying the right people would be no easy task. While it would be feasible and logical to bring in candidates from other areas of the retail sector, a significant proportion would need current, front-line banking experience.
But, because of the traditional approach of many of the established players in high street banking, we would be fishing in a talent pool where many individuals would have had few opportunities to demonstrate a real commitment to great customer service in their careers to date. The assessment process would consequently need to be unusually rigorous if it was to find a complete match between the company and a potential employee.
Ensure the recruitment process reflects the values
To achieve this we’ve set out to communicate at every point of the recruitment process just how important customer service is. All recruitment advertising and marketing takes an up-front approach so once a candidate makes an application for a particular job, no matter at what level, the message is sustained. Assessment centres make extensive use of role-playing to get a picture of whether an individual is simply good at talking about service or has the instinct to apply it in practice.
In my view, it is therefore possible to recruit around values as effectively as it is around capabilities. But to be successful the process needs to be based, not just on conventional assessment tools, but on a very clear, consistent and simple message, which will motivate the right individuals and filter out those that do not fit with the business model.