Master coach instructor, creator of Metacognitive Programming, a coaching and therapeutic technique. Founder and CEO of Think Meta.
As coaching professionals, we tend to think of our work as a living creature that must be constantly nurtured to develop and progress. Thus, it’s of fundamental importance to find viable, sustainable solutions and management models that will help our business thrive. One of the challenging questions that comes with this is “How do we choose future employees and be sure we made the right choice?”
When my partners and I founded Think Meta, we did what most companies do. We advertised open positions, thoroughly reviewed hundreds of applications, conducted interviews and discussed our team’s impressions about each candidate before making final decisions. But this recruitment and hiring standard is time-consuming and costly, and it doesn’t guarantee choosing the best fit for a company. After all, reviewing applications and interviewing prospects offers only a brief insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
So one day, we decided to try a new method for hiring. Specifically, we decided to focus on our clients.
The Case For Recruiting Your Clients
Several factors contributed to our decision to recruit new hires from among our coaching clients, First, we realized that the standard selection process is more about past experiences and already acquired skills. It focuses more on what one knows to do and has done in the past, rather than on one’s capabilities and what one might be able to do in the future. But as coaching organizations, we shouldn’t seek mastery from our employees. We need people who love what they do and can grow with us. Because working with coaching clients is inherently about their capacity to grow, recruiters can have a clearer picture of the value that these prospective hires could bring to the organization. We do not seek mastery but obsession—we search for people who love what they do and who want to and can grow together with us.
Secondly, skills aren’t the only important thing when considering job candidates. Their personalities matter as well. It’s not always possible to get to know someone thoroughly through just a handful of interviews. But as coaches, when we’re training a client, we become well acquainted with who they are as people. We become aware of their values, communication style and ability to work individually and as team members. This process also allows clients to get to know us and our companies, including their values, mission, philosophy, culture and rules. So they know the environment they’d step into if they were hired.
Finally, choosing to recruit clients means having a selection of strong talent that you can trust with the autonomy to do their best work. Even if it means putting some egos aside, you’re agreeing to believe in their capacity and open space for their new, daring ideas and decisions. When you bring on experienced professionals, you start creating innovative products and services, entering new markets and making more profit.
How To Begin Looking At Clients For Open Roles
If your coaching organization is interested in recruiting from among your clients, I would suggest taking the following steps.
1. Express your intent from the start. When you begin working with clients, be open about how you consider hiring those who show to be a good fit. Be transparent about your values, goals, work ethic or whatever you consider important for potential hires to know.
2. Observe how your clients work. When training clients, pay close attention to how they work individually and within a team, as well as how they communicate. Notice whether they enjoy what they do and engage thoroughly in the learning process. These are some of the things that matter most when it comes to the talent you hire.
3. Encourage your clients to evaluate your value as an employer. Hiring clients is a two-way process. During your initial, coach-coachee relationship, they need the freedom to assess the company. That way, if you approach them later to fill a role, they’ll know if they could see themselves as a part of your story. As you might have noticed, I always emphasize mutual growth. Employees should want to grow alongside your company, so it’s vital that any candidate—even former clients—can see that possibility.
Since we first started recruiting employees this way at Think Meta, we’ve established successful long-term cooperation with more than 80 former clients. If you want to access talent from this pool, remember to learn from and get to know each other well. Once you identify people who want to and can grow with you, as well as ones whose values and philosophies align with yours, don’t let them go! Find the position within your company that will allow them to thrive. It will be a win-win situation.
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