How to Ensure People Alignment: The Candidate Thrive Guide

We’ve done a lot of work at Corner Alliance to figure out how to recruit and retain people who will thrive in our business.  Years ago we started using the idea of a Wanted Poster to get real – be seriously authentic – about what it’s like to work in our organization.  We were committed to making sure we found candidates who could navigate the realities of what our Wanted Poster laid out.  This was a great step for us, and we started to feel like we’d uncovered some of those elusive “it factors” that can be what makes or breaks relationships of any kind (in our case finding candidates who would thrive at Corner Alliance). And then, some hiccups.

During a conversation one day with one of the owners he said:  “some of our folks still don’t seem to understand how our business works.”  In consulting, everything is about doing the best possible work we can do for our clients.  It’s what pays our salaries, keeps the lights on, allows us to invest in new offerings for the clients we serve, etc.  Client focus is paramount.  If we don’t serve our clients we a) don’t generate revenue b) they won’t keep us around very long and c) they won’t recommend us to others.  Not a very sustainable business model.

It could have been easy to point fingers and say “so and so can’t cut it or isn’t a good fit or whatever” and blame our employees for not “getting it.”  Instead, we asked:  “what have we failed to let them know about who we really are?”  Digging beyond the Wanted Poster, we asked:  what are the things that someone must know about working at Corner Alliance BEFORE they join us so that, should they come on board, they can’t say “no one told me about x” or “I didn’t know I would need to do y.”  Sort of like navigating a relationship with a significant other:  after you’ve inked the deal (gotten married, or whatever) one of the pair discovers something untenable about the other that had they been authentic would have been surfaced prior to commitments being made. I guess the big thing here is in life, relationships, organizations, getting real and avoiding surprises is key to thriving.

Born from our commitment to keep digging for that seemingly elusive formula that allows people and organizations to really, truly get real and be authentic, we incubated and gave birth to our Candidate Thrive Guide.

The Candidate Thrive Guide has become a powerful tool in our human capital arsenal.  We:

  • Make sure critical pieces of information are communicated, explicitly, in writing about the reality of our business.
  • Share - in the words of our employees - what people love about working at Corner Alliance and what is really hard.
  • Ask candidates to read the Candidate Guide and respond in writing to two questions:  how they see themselves thriving and what they think will be difficult.  While the response doubles as a writing sample (not at all a relic of the past - writing is a critical skill in our business) what we are really trying to get at is the extent to which we feel there is a true, authentic fit:  us for the candidate and the candidate for us.
  • Look for the candidate to demonstrate that they understand what they are getting into, so there is as much alignment as possible (should they become an employee) between what we said during the interview process and what they experience once they are on board.

How do you make sure people will thrive in your organization?