Welcome to our Transformational Business Success Story where I interview one of our very successful clients. One of three partners with i.d.e.a.s. pty ltd shares his story of how using innovative processes and techniques has assisted his business to clarify, attract and retain ideal employees and to create a harmonious and productive culture that supports business growth.
Please tell us about your business.
i.d.e.a.s. pty ltd was established about 15 years ago and specialises in developing out of the box manufacturing and technology solutions. Originally the focus of the business was engineering and machinery design, with the focus now more on consulting to CEOs and operations managers of large corporates and helping them to push the boundaries around their current projects. Early on in the business, there were 1 or 2 staff who came and went. Over the past 4 years, the business has grown from 3 employees to 12.
How was business prior to your transformation?
We used a very subjective, one dimensional recruitment process, where if someone interviewed well they got the job. The biggest obstacle we needed to overcome was fluctuating demand for our work and how we handle that. In the old days we used contractors, however the quality of the people was not there. Our positioning is high quality, high end engineering operations and we need quality people. We now hire new university graduates and we train them, therefore we want to hold onto them.
You have made significant changes to the way you select and retain employees, can you tell us about your transformation.
We are now not taking on contractors because the quality is not there. Initially we did the new employee selection ourselves. Working with Qt has assisted us to broaden how we assess people, to go beyond the “old school” recruitment process and to look more at the potential of people. Vesna and Qt gave us a better handle on what to look for and the type of people we wanted. When you are selecting graduates from university without much work experience, being able to assess their underlying drivers, personality, skills and their potential is important.
An employee can have alright output, however can be disruptive on the people side. What drives results isn’t always traditional factors. A CV and interview are important however not as important as other keys. Several years ago one employee interviewed well and initially was really good. Later we discovered that the personality was not a good fit with the rest of the team. Their attitude impacted on the new team that we put in place at the time. Once that person left, there has been a significant turnaround in the team.
To what extent has working with Qt helped you to align your team and to grow your business more effectively? Has it been a lasting change?
Qt assisted us in changing our mindset and to go beyond traditional criteria for selection and outside of just looking at people’s experience and technical skills. A lot of engineering graduates are very good, however do not show that through the traditional selection process, so Qt’s techniques assisted us in assessing their underlying potential. The process we learnt definitely also helped us in selecting our new partner last year.
The key thing has been opening our eyes and showing us that there is another level beyond what we were looking at with traditional recruitment and selection processes. The traditional recruitment and selection processes are not designed for quality, with the focus on someone you like rather than necessarily getting the best person.
There has been a long term change in our thinking and our selection processes and our staff retention is very high. Since working with Qt three years ago, we have retained all, except for one, staff member.
Having now made this change, what do you now enjoy most about business?
The business is moving forward and growing. We have now created a really good environment and the other guys in the business are all developing and growing. There has also been a cultural change and in how we all interact. We have been able to work through any conflict effectively and openly, which has been a significant change. We now manage people’s expectations in an open way and have a process that the team can understand. We are also putting in place a system to reward performance.
What tips would you give to others in business thinking about growing their business and improving their business success?
Getting good quality people is the key. You need to get a system to develop people, good models for thinking outside the square and not just relying on recruiters because then you are getting all the same people as everyone else. Make sure you devote some time, on an ongoing basis, to HR once you have people on board.
How would you sum up your transformation?
We have changed our point of view and introduced other factors critical to whether an employee is good or not. It has changed the way we work and it has improved the culture and the business. We definitely received a long tem payoff from working with Qt. The value of a good employee versus a bad one is just huge!