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Employee Retention Tactics to Reduce Talent Waste, with Lee McQueen

The world of hybrid and remote work and interviews has revealed major flaws in the standard employee retention handbook. Most organizations can fall into the trap of treating the symptoms of high levels of churn and being reactive, rather than focusing on fixing the root cause of turnover. There’s a dangerous cycle of investing time and resources into hiring, onboarding, and training only for an employee to leave after the first year. Are you stuck in that cycle?

Joining us on The Shortlist this week was Lee McQueen, who calls this cycle “talent waste.” Lee is an entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Phoenix51, a winner of The Apprentice, and host of “The Talent Waste Show”. Together, we discuss what talent waste is, how to mitigate this with proactive retention strategies, and how aligning candidates with the culture and values of a company can make the biggest difference in hiring and retention.

Employee retention

In this episode:

  • What is talent waste?
  • What leads to employee retention problems?
  • Understanding the importance of potential in candidates
  • Data vs. gut feelings – where is the balance?

Key takeaways:

Talent waste doesn’t just impact the bottom line. According to Lee, talent waste is another pandemic and it exists in every single organization. Hiring people but failing to retain them is one of the most expensive and wasteful things a company can do. And not just in terms of money (which Lee indicated could be anywhere between $12 –30k per bad hire) but it also in terms of time, team morale, training, and onboarding. It impacts so much more than just visible numbers. By fixing talent waste, you enable your people, your business, and your culture to grow and develop.

What are the main factors that lead to retention issues? When a disaster occurs, it’s usually as the result of an amalgamation of issues. But for Lee, the primary root of attrition can be traced back to your company’s core values. Or more specifically, whether you hire against these or not. If your employees all share this common thread of understanding, it gives the best possible chance that a person will stay and a culture can flourish. Core values should be like your North Star when hiring.

How data can help you make better hiring decisions. There needs to be structure placed around the interview – a form of automation (not AI) that still champions human interaction but also gives hard data to help make the right hiring decision. This is exactly what Lee’s talent assessment platform, Phoenix51, does. Armed with metrics from the hiring process, it can give organizations quantifiable insights into who the best candidates are and how they can potentially develop. Data can also help with accountability and give you more than just a gut-feeling when it comes to the right fit.

Our guest’s final piece of advice:

“Have a look at what you want to be as a business, what type of people you want in your company. Start with the culture and values and work down from there. Most organizations that are successful will have a successful value or cultures at their core.”



  • [1.59] Guest introduction
  • [4.20] The impact of The Apprentice on Lee’s career
  • [9.58] What is talent waste?
  • [14.10] What leads to retention issues?
  • [20.37] Organizations looking at the potential of employees
  • [26.10] The battle between gut reactions vs. data
  • [30.37] Internal mobility and retention
  • [37.29] How we use data to monitor and make choices.


Holly Fawcett:

Hello everybody and you are very welcome to this week’s episode of SocialTalent’s, The Shortlist. Today we are talking about employee retention tactics to reduce talent waste. As we know, the world of hybrid and remote work and interviews has revealed pretty major flaws in the standard employee retention handbook because most organizations, they fall into either the trap of treating the symptoms of high levels of churn and being reactive rather than focusing on fixing the root cause of turnover. And then that causes a dangerous cycle of investing time and resources in hiring, onboarding, training only for that employee to leave again after the first year.

I want to know, are you stuck inside that cycle? Joining us on The Shortlist this week is none other than Lee McQueen who calls this cycle talent waste. Lee is an entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Phoenix51. He’s also a previous winner of BBC’s The Apprentice and he’s the host of the Talent Waste Show. So joining me on this podcast and in the next couple of seconds together we’re going to discuss what talent waste is, how to mitigate this with proactive retention strategies, and how aligning candidates with the culture and the values of a company can make the biggest difference in hiring and retention. So Lee, you are very, very welcome. Thank you for joining me.

Lee McQueen:

Hello Holly. Thanks for having me. And thank you to all of your listeners as well. Appreciate you having me on today.

Holly Fawcett:

Lee, can you give the folks listening or watching you, those who are watching live, a quick background as to who you are. I’m sure I butchered most of your CV here or skirted past some key moments.

Lee McQueen:

Not at all. Let’s not worry about the CV! That’s irrelevant. But yeah, so for me, I’ve got, oh, show my age now. 22, 21, 22 years of recruitment experience. I’ve been in the recruitment industry for that long period of time. I worked for one of the big business process outsourcing companies, Capita for about eight years. I ended up being the managing director of their IT recruitment division, turned over 32 million pound at the time when I was operating there. And one day some of my team put an application form across my desk. I looked at it and thought, what’s this? And it was an application form for the Apprentice and I thought, why not? So I filled out the application form, a few phone calls and a few interviews later I ended up beating 20,000 candidates to get onto the show at the time and 12 weeks later I ended up winning it.

So yeah, I won the Apprentice back in 2008, which is an amazing experience. So worked for Lord Sugar and his son Simon for two and a half years. We built a digital media business called Amscreen from the ground up, which was an amazing experience for me. But one of my key drivers was to start my own company, Holly. I always wanted to run my own business and although I’m a bit of a late comer to be in that entrepreneurial spirit, if you like, 11 years ago I left and I set up Raw Talent. Raw Talent was my second business that I set up. It was a recruitment business focused specifically on early careers. And what we wanted to do is, we wanted to bring a bit more diversity into the sales aspect. So the major players at the time were graduate focused recruitment businesses.

So anybody that was looking for early talent was grad, grad, grad. So I said, no, let’s open the talent pool and look for grads and non grads and let’s hire based on behaviors and competencies and rip up the CV. And that journey’s been a fantastic one and it really lent us to two years ago during a global pandemic, stupidly or brilliantly, we decided to set up Phoenix 51, which is a technology platform that digitalizes and virtualizes people assessment. And that came out of the work that we’ve done globally with my recruitment business, so that’s where we are today. So yeah, it’s been quite a whirlwind journey to be fair Holly.

Holly Fawcett:

It sounds like it actually. I think starting a business with Lord Sugar can be, shall we say intimidating. Do you mind me asking, is it really 12 weeks? It literally is week on week or is it more like five weeks?

Lee McQueen:

It’s seven actually or to be completely exact, it was six weeks and four days. So the process is actually quite condensed, which if you think about it makes it even harder. One of the hardest things I’ve done in my career is go on The Apprentice and win The Apprentice, there’s no doubt about it. The Apprentice alumni or the winners of the Apprentice will probably come on and say the same thing if you had them on onto The Shortlist for example, because you are giving up everything, you’re giving up your job, you’re giving up a career, you’re going into the unknown and then you are under pressure from the minute you walk through the house if you like, from the minute you walk into the boardroom. And that was tough. It was a tough scenario, but I’ve always been the sort of person that kind of wants to challenge myself.

I work hard, so that’s one of my core kind of inner beliefs is you have to work hard. So I had a strong work ethic but I didn’t know if I was good enough to beat other people, to pit my woods against other people. So that’s why I done it. I wanted to go and learn from the best. So Alan, he is probably arguably one of the best entrepreneurs the UK’s seen for, certainly over the last 50 years. So why not go learn from the man that’s been there and done it? And that was my journey really.

Holly Fawcett:

Yeah. And did you feel that it was an effective way of assessing your and everybody else, all the other participants’ skills and abilities in order to get that job? That kind of…

Lee McQueen:

100%. Yeah. Yeah, 100%. And I think that if you think about what my idea for Raw Talent a couple years after I won, what I set my own business up was to not reinvent observational assessment, because that’s been around for years. But actually the gold standard of assessment is to do a competency based interview, to do a role play, to do a presentation, to do some sort of group activity or group task. And actually if you think about The Apprentice, that’s what it is. It’s watching every single week has these individuals got the right behaviors and competencies that I want in my organization, in Lord Sugar’s case.

And I took that idea and said, well hang on, why can’t we give that to our clients? Can’t we build a service that we would start to drive sales academies for organizations that were looking and watching and seeing has Holly got the right behaviors? Has Lee got the right behaviors, has John got the right behaviors? And if we see them, if we can test them, then we hire them and it gives us that better retention rate. And that’s what we found over the last 11 years. We’ve got some amazing data points that we now have obviously in our platform around what worked well, what doesn’t work well in certain sectors and certain industries.

Holly Fawcett:

So that’s fascinating actually. It’s really, it’s lovely that that’s such an experience, such a pivotal moment in your early career shall we say, because I know you’re 22 years in recruitment there at this stage, but you’re still a young man. But that very pivotal moment having such a monumental impact on your entrepreneurial journey and then on the potential assessment and opportunities that now talent more broadly has been able to get, so that’s amazing. Congratulations.

Lee McQueen:

Thank you. And I think with that as well is that, so I didn’t go to university, so my background is I grew up in a council house. My dad’s a milkman for 42 years, mom’s a receptionist. Wow. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. But the reason why it’s relevant is because they’re workers, they are grafters, so that’s where I get the work ethic from. But I didn’t create the opportunities during my education to be able to go on to do A levels and to do universities, totally on me, no one’s fault but didn’t have a bad thing. It was just I was the class jokester at school, I didn’t get on with school. And there’d be people out there watching or parents that are watching with their children and so forth that have the similar situation. And back then apprenticeships for example weren’t as sexy as they are today.

I mean apprenticeship now you can do most things. It’s brilliant. You can do apprenticeship in dev, you can do apprenticeship in marketing, you could do, back then you couldn’t, it was more kind of carpentry.

Holly Fawcett:

Or trade.

Lee McQueen:

Electrician, trade, that sort of stuff. Which again, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just that wasn’t, I wasn’t interested in that type of thing. So for me at that point, if you didn’t go to university, you’d already failed. So I was walking out of school going, oh right, okay, so I’m on the back foot already and I just think that if you fast forward like 20 years, that’s now completely changed and now there’s people, there is different alternatives to university. Not that university’s bad, I’m not saying that at all either, don’t get me wrong. But it is opening up opportunities for people that learn differently or are different in other ways that still can showcase their behaviors or their competence to do a role for your organization. And that’s what Phoenix, for example, is all about.

Holly Fawcett:

Yeah, I think it’s probably one of the most pivotal shifts in British policy because it’s not universal across other countries, particularly across Europe. There’s only some small pockets within Europe, especially within the United States where it’s basically university or nothing for professional careers. But being able to, incentivizing apprentices, apprenticeship programs for professional type of careers, like you say you can do an apprenticeship at marketing, you can do an apprenticeship at accountancy rather than having to go to college and do a four year degree and then go on to do graduate studies in order to get those things. It’s really, the avenues to get to professional careers now have broadened so much. So talk to me about talent waste in particular because I think this is really interesting. Definitely as you keep, as you’ve referred to ripping up that CV, the traditional avenues like going in from university are no longer the only way there. So talk, what is talent waste, why you’re so passionate about this?

Lee McQueen:

Well I think talent waste is another pandemic if I’m honest, but people just don’t realize it is there. Talent waste exists in businesses globally. The premise really of talent waste is that if you are hiring a bunch of people, one person, 5,000 people, doesn’t really matter the number. If you are hiring people but you fail to retain them, you are wasting talent. You’ve done all that hard work on, I’ve identified Holly, we’ve interviewed Holly, we’ve put Holly for an assessment, we’ve onboarded Holly, we’ve given all of things and brought you into us and you’ve had a fantastic experience and all of that. And then seven months later Holly leaves. That’s really expensive, it’s expensive for Holly, it’s expensive in terms of didn’t work out, you’ve got to go and do your job search again, it’s expensive for your team internally because they’re like, okay, this, another one’s gone this, another one’s come, there’s another one’s gone.

So it doesn’t really breed the right values or culture and it’s definitely expensive from a monetary perspective for the business that’s hiring. Because it costs between £12,000 and £30,000 pounds for every bad hire. So CIPD stated it’s around £12,000 to £30,000 per bad hire and Harvard business review states that there’s 80% of the issues that we face in our businesses are around bad hires. So when you look at them two stats together, you’re thinking, wow, there’s some big numbers here when you put it into a number. Let’s just quantify that a little bit. So say for example, let’s take the minimum value there, £12,000 pounds to hire. So I’m not talking about recruitment agency fees, I’m talking about time, resource, onboarding, technology, staff training, all of that entire process. So that’s 12,000. If you are hiring a hundred people this year and you’re only going to retain 50% of them or 60% of them, that is a huge amount of money, 460 grand for example, that is literally walking off your bottom line if you can’t retain them people.

So there’s business we’ve been involved in some of our clients before they were clients, of course people that we speak to during the podcast as well that are sitting in board meetings saying, how can we generate more revenue? How can we get more on our bottom line for our shareholders? Yet they are wasting talent every year. A hundred hires only retaining 60% of them in year one, 40% of them are leaving, £360,000 pound of cost that they don’t see because it’s not a cost that’s visible. Does that make sense Holly?

So there’s so much that comes around with that talent waste piece and if we could fix it, if we could say, let’s improve our retention rates from 60% to 70% to 70% to 80%, not only does that have an effect on our monetary, the crude way of looking at it, we’ve saved money. But the other thing that it’s doing is creating pathways for individuals within the business. So therefore Holly doesn’t leave, so therefore Lee’s happier as Holly’s teammate and now we can start to see a team bonding and a culture growing within our organization. And that for me is the key point.

Holly Fawcett:

Oh definitely. I think I probably have a hundred questions now for you off the back of that, but certainly there’s, yeah, there’s so many more positive wins to retention than just simply as you say, the saving of having to do recruitment costs all over again, but also, I mean especially in one of the organizations that you founded with regards to Raw talent for sales organizations. When your account manager is constantly changing because they’re churning out, your customer is less likely to actually stay with you as a client. Yeah, exactly right. All of your retention both for your customers and your employees is really important.

Do you think though that retention, particularly after that kind of the first six month honeymoon period of your new job or even maybe the first two years of your new job, we kind of think two years, oh yeah, that’s a chore duty, okay, we were allowed to go off and leave while the certainly are allowed to go off and leave, we do want them to stay, but what are the things that is leading to retention problems? Is it that assessment piece? Is that the interview failed? Is it the onboarding thing that failed? Did we not do by them at some point during the transition to career mobility? What’s the factors for churn?

Lee McQueen:

Yeah, it is a brilliant question. I think that if we dissect it a little bit, it’s probably all of the above or aspects of all of the above. So I’ve got a philosophy that when a disaster happens or something happens that you don’t want, it’s not just one thing that causes it, it’s an amalgamation of a few things. And it might only be that 1% of the problem is the interview process, but 10% of the problem is the assessment process. So it’s an amalgamation of all the things, if we break that down, where it really starts for us or for me is your core values. So as a business, if you’ve got say four core values and you’re hiring against them core values, regardless of the job role, regardless of the people that you are bringing into your organization, they should all share the same core values because then you are giving yourself the best possible chance for people to stay culturally in your business.

Most people, when you do an exit interview with people, most people don’t say I’m leaving because I don’t get paid enough. Most people don’t say that, I am, they do leave because of their reasons, but most people don’t. Most people leave because of their leader or because of their boss or because of ultimately their team around them. And what we’re talking about here, you can talk about it saying it’s a bit, it’s a weird, it’s a bit fluffy, you can talk about that, but it’s culture. We’re talking about the culture of the business. And so these are our core values and you might stick them up on the wall and they’re great. But do we live and breathe by our core values? Because if we do, that means that we’re hiring people into the business.

I’ll give you an example. So when we started to build Raw Talent. Raw Talent’s, core cultural value or core why if you like, was that we don’t hire based on CV, it’s wrong. We hire based on behaviors and competencies. That was our metaphor and our mantra and ultimately we’ve taken that into the Phoenix51 business. But why that’s relevant is, if somebody who is absolutely brilliant, really, really good, great standard on LinkedIn, great standard in the industry, come for an interview at Raw talent, but they firmly believed that we should be hiring on a CV, we wouldn’t hire them because they go completely against our core value. So your face is quite surprised there in a sense, but that’s the bit that people, oh, it won’t make much difference. We can change Holly. You can’t, if it’s a core belief, Holly won’t change or Lee won’t change.

And that’s why it starts at your core values. So once you’ve got your core values set, you can get a real strong set of competencies out of what them core values are. So in other words, if one of your core values is team and to be team centric, then communication might be one of your core competencies that goes with that value. And therefore one of your core competencies running through all of your hires, regardless of your business should be communication. And then of course from that competency, you’ve then got set of behaviors. So how do we then measure whether or not Lee or Holly is good in communication? And that’s where the interviewing the assessment comes in where you’re really starting to test and show and see and observe. Have we got them core behaviors that essentially roll up to competency that essentially roll up to values?

Does that make sense?

So that’s the bit that really starts. And then once you’ve found that, and a lot of people, Holly organizations, sorry I should say they’re scared probably seems too long, a bigger word, but they’re a bit apprehensive because it means that you’re screening people in and not screening people out. And most organizations from a recruitment perspective screen people out, let’s have a look at their CV, have they got a degree? No, let’s screen them out. Okay, let’s have a look at their CV. Have they got five years experience? No, let’s screen them out. But what we are doing is saying, okay, let’s not worry about your degree or let’s not worry about your experience per se. Let’s worry about has Holly got the core competencies that fit into our values? Yes, she has. Right now let’s have a conversation about has she got the skill set, has you see what I mean?

So there’s a fundamental difference between screening in and screening out and for some businesses that is impossible. For some businesses that doesn’t work when you are hiring for tens of thousands of people that maybe over the Christmas period in retail you just need people to come in and temp for that Christmas period and for that demand, maybe you don’t need to go into this detail, but from a permanent perspective, when you’re looking to grow people within your company over a long period of time, that’s when this method works really, really well.

Holly Fawcett:

Yeah, I would argue to say even for a temp positions for a 13 week Christmas peak period for example, or over the summer period, if you’re doing summer jobs or any of those kinds of things, those individuals will still have an impact on the customers, especially if their customer facing. So your values have to be lived through, right? They’re definitely not something that, let’s lower our bar in order to get people in the door, but ultimately making sure that we’re still aligned the whole way. I think that piece around employee and company culture, there is a propensity, I think for organizations obviously to match past behaviors as in past experience.

And tell me about a time you did X, Y, Z versus learning agility and that core competency of learning agility and being able to demonstrate potential. How does any organization, particularly something like Phoenix51, which is trying to digitize this service for organizations to do this at scale, really look at the potential of an employee where they may not have had the best training, they may not have been terribly well prepared, they may not have had access to this particular skill building or even the mindset to understand that the CV is no longer relevant and they just have never been exposed from an argument as to what could be the alternative.

How do you educate somebody or how do you decipher the potential of an employee at an early talent or even mid experience kind of level as well in order to see whether or not they’re going to be right for our culture?

Lee McQueen:

Yeah, I mean again, even that mid side, even that senior side of things as well, it is relevant across them key areas. It’s interesting actually because my business partner, my co-founder for Phoenix51 is Chris Winters he’s a business psychologist and that’s important because he brings the science wrapped behind how we do certain things and how we score the gold standard of, or the platinum if you like. The top step of that assessment piece is around competency based interviewing. So competency based questions we haven’t reinvented then they’ve been around for a long, long time. But actually scoring them against them key competencies and values and then having a data set to be able to say, actually this is Holly and this is what Holly scored against them key competencies and behaviors. This is Lee and this is what Lee scored. A lot of businesses Holly, you might be surprised this or not, I don’t know the watching audience and the listeners, but so many people still use a pen and paper, they still write things down, they still interview even on Teams today.

There’ll be people around the world that have gone on to teams. Hi Holly, how you getting on? Let’s do a 40 minute interview, throw some questions at each other, write some stuff down. Yeah, I think that’s quite good yeah that’s… And I’m not being derogatory, I’m just saying that that is what some people are doing. So to put a structure around that and digitalize that structure, we don’t use AI. We’re not asking the computer to say yes or the computer to say no, this is still human interaction, but it’s human interaction for an automated platform that enables you to see data analysis on strengths and weaknesses, where they could improve on certain areas, which gives you the tool kit for want of that expression to be able to develop that individual. Like you mentioned before, Holly, if you’ve got a mid, I don’t know, a mid person coming in, somebody’s got a few years experience and they’re in their kind of, I don’t know, third or forth role, it might be, they still need to be able to develop, they still need to be able to learn.

So how are we deciding where their areas of development are using the tool such as ours? But there’s other tools out there of course, but using a tool such as ours enables you to have a better data driven decision. But ultimately it’s still your decision as a human. You still make the decision in the end to say, do you know what? I can see Holly’s data set and I can see that she’s scoring brilliantly here and here in a commercial awareness is maybe a little bit lower, but that’s okay. I know that no I’m going to train develop her, but I’m still going to hire Holly into the organization. Just think about what that breeds as a culture. All of a sudden now you’ve created a career pathway for Holly. Holly now knows that the learning development before she’s in gets into post is that commercial aspect.

So you’ll probably come on when you do come on board and start your onboarding period with us as a new organization, you’ve probably downloaded work in the back end to work on your commerciality. So there’s so many positives that comes with that. And what we found over time, especially in their early careers piece as well, is over time people want knowledge. That’s what retains people in the organization. It’s not necessarily just a monetary piece. Even in sales, 20 years ago, if you said to a sales person, what’s the most important thing to you? They’d say money and everyone would be like, yeah, it’s all about the money.

It’s not about that anymore. It’s about development. It’s about how do I get better, how do I learn? I want to be around good people and if you integrate me into a team and half the team in six months leaves, what do you think I’m going to do? And that’s the bit, it is the byproduct of, I don’t want to say buns on seed, but it’s the byproduct of hiring that individual into the business and then losing them so quickly because of them key things that we’ve talked about aren’t happening.

Holly Fawcett:

Yeah, I think I would argue that some other, a lot of sales people out there who definitely want the money and who are hired because they want the money! If you want to, you’ll go after it. But on that better around the data piece, right, because that’s definitely an area where we see an awful lot, in our unconscious bias slash very conscious bias. When you make a pros and cons list about anything like a decision on who you’re going to, you’re deciding between whether or not to go out with this person more long term after a couple of dates or whatever else, you’re making that pros and cons list. Ultimately if after whitening that all your pros and cons, the cons start outweighing the pros, but ultimately your heart, your gut feel is like, oh I do actually really like this person. You’ll start kind of saying actually that con isn’t really that important and this one isn’t really, you’ll start, you’ll actively start justifying your decision.

So how do you prevent that when the data is fairly obvious and fairly clear and pointing you towards, we think this person will be a good employee for the business based on their assessment. We think this person probably wouldn’t be a good employee for the business based on their assessment. But ultimately that system one kind of gut feel, they had a great interview, they made me laugh, we got on great. Those are really powerful emotions that people feel and they can and do override the system. How do you prevent that? Or is it possible even to prevent it?

Lee McQueen:

That’s a really good question Holly. I think that gut feel is important in the world, for people in the world of business as well. I do think it’s important. I think that we’ve come a long way probably in the last five years, maybe 10 years around that cancel culture and canceling certain things out and making sure that everything has to be, and actually the old way never worked at all. And that old way was gut feel. I’m somewhere in between. I think that science should be there to help make the decisions, but ultimately that’s why the computer’s not saying yes or no because it is ultimately the human decision. All we can do as a platform is show you, hold the mirror up with us, I suppose, and show to you these are the key areas that are needed development. These are the reds, these are the ambers, these are the red flags.

If you still want to hire that person, Holly, because your gut is saying, actually I think Lee’s going to be good. I probably wouldn’t be by the way. But if that’s the case then that’s up to you. But don’t be foolish. Don’t be foolish to not use the data to train and develop in the areas that the platform is showcasing you or the process is showcasing you. So in other words, you are looking for an 80% or 85% percentile sorry, of entire scores. If you’ve got eight or nine different key competencies, you want to see 80% of that individual hitting 80% of them, that’s deemed good enough or that’s what good looks like in your business and therefore you are hiring that individual. There’s still not a hundred percent right, because no one’s perfect. So you could assess to the cows come home and you’ll never get somebody that’s going to score a hundred percent every single time.

And that’s right because there’s no one that’s perfect. There’s always room for that learning. So to eradicate some of that kind of gut feel versus that data piece or to bring them two together, set benchmarks of, we know in our business that this percentile is what good looks like. We know that because we’ve got data on hiring these people in the past or these people with these behaviors in the past typically do this. So then we can start to assess the potential of them hires coming in. And that’s how you would start to eradicate that. I mean the ability to be, for you and I to be interviewing at the same time, so you are my boss and you and I are interviewing, I don’t know Andrew and I’m looking over, oh no, what are you saying Holly? What I’m being influenced by you? Or you might make a comment and I’m being influenced by you because you are my boss.

I’m thinking all right, I better score higher, that needs to be gated, that needs to be stopped. It needs to be me scoring that individual assessing or interviewing that individual, yes at the same time as you but in a gate process. And that’s again, that’s quite important. Because that unconscious bias starts to creep in them aspects as well to actually say, all right, by running the data driven decision, we can start to see if there’s any trends in the data. Lee always hires the same sort of people or Holly always hires the same sort of people. Is there a pattern there? Is there a trend there? It’s quite powerful stuff from an overall business point of view as well. So that’s kind of some of the key things that a data driven approach would start to eliminate.

Holly Fawcett:

Yeah, definitely showcases, accountability. So if for example, you always agree with the hiring decisions that I make, that’s a big red flag from, that HR may be able to point out and go, look, we believe you’re actually, you are leading the witness so to speak and you’re not doing a great job in terms of being objective.

Lee McQueen:

Yeah, exactly that. Exactly that sort of thing.

Holly Fawcett:

Yeah, talk to me about internal mobility because we’ve obviously spoken about the filling of the bucket and now we want to stop that bucket from leaking at the bottom. But one of the big reasons that employees leave, aside from poor onboarding experience and poor value matches, they’re in the business two years, they do align with the organization’s values clearly because we’ve assessed them well and they’ve done well, but now it’s time to go the next step then it’s not going to be here for a range of reasons. And those reasons are usually down the lines of there are no opportunities that I can see. They’re not obvious to me. I don’t know how to apply to an internal position. They’re never advertised. I never see them until I look on Indeed or other job portals. They’ll not advertise internally, for example, my boss might prevent me from going, they’re hoarding me.

They’re saying, oh you’re too good for our team. What if you leave my team, we won’t be able to do anything we want. And that’s them gone. Or they are being passed over for promotion because of, not from merit, shall we say. Merit is not how people get their job. They get their next job through their network and having others advocate for their merit, which may or may not be true. So how can this or can this system be used and these similar tools and everything else be used for an internal mobility perspective rather than just the acquisition of people into the business?

Lee McQueen:

Yeah, again, thank you. Brilliant question. Yeah, absolutely. Of course. And I think what our specific platform doesn’t do is it doesn’t flag up to a hiring manager in the US that there’s, as an individual in Ireland who is perfect for that job. It doesn’t do that. But what it does do is give an opportunity to assess their current staff. And that’s really important because yes, I’m, so you are a candidate and we’ve assessed you, now you’ve come into the business, but how do we then develop your career path during your employment with our business?

And actually if I’m your line manager, why then use our assessment tool assess or your ongoing career? I’ll give you a couple of examples. One of our clients is actually using, he is in a sales environment actually, but one of our clients is using our platform to assess sales individuals in real time. So they’re going out on sales meetings or live sales calls and they’re assessing their key behaviors and competencies against what that job needs to do and feedback in real time. So what’s happening is when they’re coming back to do that again or again next week, week after, month after whatever, it continues to improve and developed your career path or business. And one of other businesses actually took a broader view, one of our other clients or a board of view, they had 150 managers that were in their business that were all at different levels. So they were probably mid managers, maybe 70k to 100k, kind of that sort of area.

And what we did is we used the platform to actually drive some assessment around where they’re actually at within their career, what would they need to do in order to get up to the next level, which was account director I think at the time and how far away they were from that. What that essentially meant when Holly had been there for six months, who is hoping Lee, who is, when Holly got promoted, Lee wasn’t worried because I knew where I needed, I won’t be getting that promotion. And these are the key reasons why, similarly if you reverse that, the trouble with not knowing what that benchmark is that Holly’s the better individual.

Lee gets promoted because he’s been there longer than Holly. Holly then says, well there’s no point in me staying here. I might as well leave. Lee’s now in the wrong job. So he ends up leaving after six, seven months and then Holly’s team can see all this happen and said, well actually, as if this is the way the company works, then I’m going to leave. So all of a sudden just by making that again, that wrong decision, whether it’s a hiring decision or promotional decision, we’ve created a massive issue in the business. And that’s where organizations, and not all organizations of course, but a lot of organizations are not seeing that problem.

Holly Fawcett:

I can see that as being a hugely valuable piece of insight though, whether it’s in me as a learning professional or me as an individual. Because trying to be able to validate the training initiatives that we deliver to our employees, for example. So obviously in every single organization there are training initiatives, whether they are formal or informal, whether it’s like you’re sitting beside me and we’re learning through some tacit information sharing. We’re both on the same sales meetings and therefore you’re kind of learning from me for example. Or I’m going through a formal training course, whether that’s on something like social talent or if it’s something where you’re actually going off to a college or something on those lines, those kind of formal interventions, there’s very, very little, there’s very few evidence based on the job of validations of how that intervention is, has actually proven out how that has come out in the wash.

Because of course every individual will take that training and do their own ping with it. They’re going to put their own spin on things. It starts to spin off a whole load of other innovations in their own mind for some individuals of course, particularly the more creative ones or certainly the most experienced, whereas others are just going to take it root and brunch go, yep, that’s great. I’m going to do the things precisely what I’ve taught my training course and do nothing else.

And so from learning, just from a validation of training, that sounds amazing, but then it’s like it’s the data for my own performance. So I have a smart watch and I’ve used a smart watch for years and I rely on that to tell me how many steps I’ve done today, the fact that I haven’t stood up in the last 37 minutes and I need to stand up now for a minute at some point during this hour, all of those data points which says, if you do these things, you will be healthier. But without that, without somebody monitoring that performance at a reasonably un-intrusive level, I don’t know where to make good choices or good alternative choices to what my instinct would tell me.

Lee McQueen:

Completely. And again, it goes back to my crazy point right at the beginning, which is I find it completely crazy why people are still using a piece of paper and a pen to make handwritten notes and make judgments on the most important asset that you need in your business today, which is your people. We have all your devices, I have the same Apple, Whoop, anybody got a Whoop strap that talks about your health and it makes all these things that we have in our lives, most of the clients that we’re working with, most of the people that are watching this and they have data points all over their lives on their phone. They have key data points, stand up, sit down, too loud, too quiet, all these things. Yet when we go into hiring process, where’s that CV that was invented.

Oh no, you’re not good enough. Really what based on a two page CV because you’ve got a couple paragraphs, doesn’t make sense, does it Holly? To be honest, it doesn’t make sense. So to actually, to put the point around our platform, and there’s other platforms out there, of course there’s other interviewing platforms that are different to what we do and so on and so forth. But in the recruitment technology space, of course there is, a lot of them aren’t wearables. You can’t wear them and say, person’s behaving in this way, an Apple, whatever. But we can still get some really strong data points.


The Shortlist is a workplace, thought-leader focused talkshow that broadcasts every Wednesday. You can watch it live on LinkedIn and on YouTube. Or, why not stream as a podcast after?

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