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6 lessons from our Masterclass on talent acquisition and developing organizational culture

Last Wednesday, session.vc held its first Masterclass on talent acquisition and developing organizational culture. Our guest was Noa Perry-Reifer, Global Head of Talent at On-Running. Since joining On-Running four years ago, Noa helped scale On from 100 to 1'200 employees, including hiring over 500 people in a remote environment.

Noa described the most significant challenge that On faced over the last four years as keeping the balance between rapid growth and maintaining a unique culture.

Here are the top six lessons from our Masterclass with Noa:

1. Overinvest in culture and team:

Culture development is the responsibility of the entire leadership team. The number one lesson here is to never compromise on touchpoints with your employees, especially not in a virtual environment. Examples include:

  • Regular (bi-weekly) town halls.
  • Storytelling - sharing stories of founders and early employees across teams.
  • Involving senior leadership in onboarding new employees.

Even at On's scale today, two out of three founders participate in every onboarding of new employees!

2. Objectivize the hiring process:

Testing objectively for culture fit is hard, especially in a virtual environment. To objectivize the hiring process, you need to first develop a company-specific set of core values together with the behaviors that every value stands for. With this, employees can develop a shared understanding of your company's culture and create a common language within the organization, which potential hires can be tested against. Another recommendation is to use interview scorecards as a quantitative basis for comparison between interviewers.

3. Hire for potential, not for experience:

As a young company, you cannot (and probably should not) hire the most experienced people for the job. You have to go for people that are underqualified on paper but whom you believe can grow into their roles. Hire people that have less experience but lots of potential!

4. Evaluate along the lines of both performance and values

Develop a framework to measure your employees not just based on performance but also cultural values and behavioral alignment. On uses a 9 box grid, where the top right box reflects an employee who delivers results above expectations and who is a role model for the culture of the organization.

5. Do case study interviews

Using good case studies in interviews requires a lot of work. Still, they are an essential tool to evaluate a person's ability to contribute to their potential role in the organization. On still uses case study interviews for every single hiring process.

6. Build relationships with people that could fit your future organization

As a young company, you often meet senior people who are too early to join your organization. Invest in these relationships! While they might not be the right fit today, they will help you in your future war for talent once the company has grown to the next level.

In summary, the importance of corporate values and the culture they engender cannot be overstated. Put simply, a company's values, and the culture they create, can spell the difference between success and failure.

Stay tuned for more. The next session.vc Masterclass is scheduled for 17.02.2022 on the topic of B2B Sales.

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