Failed recruitment kills your culture, but how do companies get this wrong?


[London] – You know what long weekend means, come back to a full inbox you can never expect to clear on your first day back. As I distract myself with some Linkedin readings, I am anguished.

We talk about how some companies emphasize on getting their culture right using employee benefits such as “Birthday day off, Options scheme, Yoga retreats etc. etc….We boast. True; All of these form part of your retention plans because let’s face it, if things stayed the same since you joined the company x years ago, you would be thinking of leaving now, wouldn’t you?

We also talk about how failed recruitment costs your company money, here

One-third (33%) believe that hiring mistakes cost their business nothing, when in fact, a poor hire at mid-manager level with a salary of £42,000 can cost a business more than £132,000.

But what bothers me the most is how so very little of us understood just how important this acquisition (recruitment) phase is for a company to form the right culture from the get go.

Can we take a second to talk about the elephant in the room please?

The culture of your company is not what your Founders want (hoped) it to be, its formed by the attitude of people you bring in and that attitude is the byproduct of the beliefs they found during this recruitment phase. If you’re not currently part of this phase, this is how it looks like:

  1. Candidate sees Job advert
  2. Candidate reads job advert, resonates to his/her belief, applies for job
  3. Candidate interviews with Recruiter, sold on the role, sold on the expectation of the role – expectations aligned
  4. Candidate interviews with Hiring Manager, sold on the role once more, sold on the expectation of the role, sold on career growth pathway – expectations aligned
  5. Candidate interviews with Leadership team, sold on the role once more, sold on the expectation of the role, sold on career growth pathway, sold on company’s vision and beliefs – expectations aligned
  6. Candidate accepts offer
  7. New Hire goes through on boarding process, hiring team keeps in touch – on boarding perfection
  8. New Hire starts – Expectations, Beliefs, Vision, Missions, Goals aligned
  9. Retention plan comes into play……

Since my rapid growth journeys, I’m often asked, “What’s the secret to balancing hyper growth and the right culture?” Well, there’s no such as a secret sauce! There’s no easy way to achieving this. If you had asked my leadership now, we’re in agreement that it is a damn hard job to do, the world’s most difficult balancing act to date.

What did we do then?

We mastered this: [To compromise Time over Quality].

Some will call us “picky” but most will have the time to learn we are the right choice. If Rome wasn’t built overnight, so isn’t forging a ‘real’ relationship with your potential hire. A Wrong hire affects business, the Right one brings added value. When you are forced to hire within a limited time-frame, jumping the gun on someone who long-term would not be the right fit is suicidal. As the hiring manager, you (we) have the responsibility not to cost your company money and someone’s (candidate’s) career. And this is what some managers actually do, they spend their day doing their day jobs, and nights being part of this recruitment process.

So why do so many companies get this wrong? Good intentions, wrong execution.

Classic Exhibit A: Company hires a HR team with a Talent only Focus (hire, hire, hire, hire!) – Fail

Classic Exhibit B: Company splits the HR team into People versus Talent, with no shared values – Fail

Classic Exhibit C: Company hires and empowers a People team with a single focus, bring in the right cultural fit.

My advise?

Put the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th action plan aside, get your basics right, get your recruitment goals right.

“Founders, managers, business owners, your talent team is your first step to establishing the culture you had hoped for. Take the time, put in the effort to find the right team that shares your beliefs, your company’s vision because they are going to be the first taste of your brand.”

And you ever wondered why so many recruiters end up in HR and stay for eternity? Because they found joy in the passion for people, and unfairly, the experience they have in this acquisition phase makes it just a little bit easier to reach this target. [Recruiting peeps] So if you’re in recruitment pitched for a People role, forget the whole Internal vs External pros and cons list. Just have a little faith next time and remember this,

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will – Karim Sedikki

Okay, Tuesday night rant over.

Is this the end of my career?


Your career has a lifecycle, and your job right now has a shelf life. Ouch.

Part of what I do is to career-coach, no not really. What I do instead is to tell them, “This is what I think, and you need to figure this out yourself”. Again, ouch.

I know what you’re thinking, there are career coaches, there’s HR, there’s L&D, they are all there to help me find 1. Satisfaction in work 2. Satisfaction in life 3. Satisfaction in work life balance.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

It is not your employers responsibility to give you all of the above. 9 out of the 10 times I came across this ‘form’ of employee, they don’t know what they want, they had these festered up frustrations and finally, there was no ONE root cause to it. Imagine you being in my seat, how mind boggling was that conversation.

“So how can I help?”

“I don’t know, maybe a career path program? Maybe a pay rise? Maybe a promotion? Maybe enrol in a skilled course?”

Luckily, this isn’t the end of the world because reality is, you can’t know what you don’t know. And that’s when YOU come in, help your employer help you. Simple. Start by reverse engineering your thought process from the last time you felt “stuck” at work. I say, it’s a four phases journey.

Suddenly, there is SPACE in my day to day, am I not doing enough?

Humans; when we get some free space, we fill it up. Maybe I’m kenophobic? We all are.

Look at it this way, we fill our physical space with furniture and clothes and everything else. We fill our time space with busy work, day tasks, emails. We fill our mental space with news and information and other things sometimes we don’t need to know. Then, we fill our emotional space with toxic emotions that eventually drains our energy and more importantly our focus on what’s really important.

This is what kenophobia means.

We are not Okay with space around us for a long time.

You start to fill your mental space with doubts if you’re doing enough at work. You auto response is filling your schedules up with meaningless clutter and tasks that don’t serve us because it shows the presumed status of being “busy”, but really, you’re just masking the emptiness you feel inside. All this being busy, have left you with no space for connecting with the nature, other humans and especially yourself in a meaningful way. Because soon enough, you don’t know what you’re doing and who you’re doing this for. You’re ‘lost’.

The “I don’t belong here” syndrome.

You’re lost, and so you feel that everyone around you knows what they’re doing, what they’re capable of, except you. Everything in your box is moving but you. Truth is, the great things in our world is a byproduct of very brave people doing, failing, failing, failing, failing and then succeeding once in a while. If you don’t know what’s next, you can’t possibly predict success with magic. Realise that nobody actually knows what they’re doing. How they seem to have it more together than you do right now, is because they didn’t bail at the first taste of failure.

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” Colin R. Davis

Be one of them.

Have you lost sight of your values and drivers?

Managing your career is a long term job itself. It’s long ranged and so every once in a while we need a refresher to bring us back to course. You’ve hit an inertia in your career because you’ve been in the role for a long time and your surroundings became mundane, unattractive, unchallenging, bland. It’s okay. I will advise that you take an exercise today, to list down what’s really important you; our deal breakers, our non negotiable, things we must avoid. If you are answering these questions truthfully to yourself, you will quickly find that familiar path again.

Finally, take the “Grass is greener on the other side” mentality out of the equation.

Life is not about looking for an escape route ALL.THE.TIME. Knock some sense into yourself. Ask yourself, “Why did I leave my last company?”. You’ve read a thousand articles about “Staff leaving managers, not companies” and so you thought, this isn’t my fault, it’s my managers. Reality is, the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it. So today, learn to stop blaming someone else, stop pretending that you’re doing this NOT to escape and pick up the damn watering can and water your relationship with your employer.

Communicate with your employer. Ask for help.

Make a list. I love doing this, it helps me organize my thoughts, and they provide a nice outline for tough discussions. No manager likes to hear a laundry list of what’s wrong with your role or the company. Don’t start your well earned conversation of negativity or complaints. Tell them exactly what you need, and what your goals and aspirations are. So, take the time to reflect, think about what you want. Bring in your big guns, and go for it.

You’ve been nothing but honest to yourself so far.

Don’t escape, don’t fill the space with other’s presence, notice where you are, and be OK with it. If you’re really not, then we both know it’s time to move on and start counting backwards, 4….3….2….1.

Start again, because its never too late to feel great about yourself again. You deserve it.

Let me empower YOU, not sugar coat the reality because YOU can change this ending.

So let’s recap, what do you do the next time?

  1. Get some space, be honest with yourself, and think about what you want to achieve.
  2. Define success to yourself.
  3. Speak to your employer about how they can help you.
  4. The grass is not greener on the other side.
  5. If they can’t, Move on, to better things. Work with someone who deserves you, because you are worth it.

How do you Retain your Talent the right way? Being Human.


Question for the start up world.

When you walk into a start up and the first thing they say to HR is “we want a sustainable culture yet, the hyper growth that Facebook or Google went through”. Red flag alert. As the expert, you should already know that these two elements do not happen at the same time. You need to ask them, “Is it Acqusition or Retention?”

This is a conscious effort from your leadership, you simply cannot do this alone. One thing we need to get right is the people in your company defines the future, and this means EVERY SINGLE HIRE you have brought in, and retained.


You start off with acquisition. Take a company through hyper growth. Hire for headcount show, not for PURPOSE. Your leadership tells you, “hiring slow affects business”. And so, you make it the only agenda in your job to Hire, Hire, Hire, because yes, you were told you can and should do so. They know that it is the talent they have who build their product. It is the talent they have who connects the product to their customers. They know that it is the talent they have who is going to give their customers a better world. So, THEY MUST HAVE IT.

This is the most exciting part of a start up, the expansion phase. Of course it is! You’re selling a great dream every single day. You even end up believing in it yourself. The propaganda.

So now, you think if I can hire all these great people, I can retain them too because we’re all in this together.



All these great talent, all of these great people you have just brought in to build this dream are also very smart people. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have bat an eyelid at them at the first instance. Their experiences are top notch, their technical skills are second to none. But you forgot to ask, “what is YOUR DREAM?”

Every employee has a dream, GREAT employees CHASE their dreams. If you want to retain greatness, must give them the work, life satisfaction they seek.

Because they are human, just like you.

Let’s put it this way, a satisfied employee is an engaged employee. We all know that high engagement brings profitability to the company, because losing people costs you ££. Don’t be daft, of course it does.

Losing talent is not something to be proud of.

So what do you need to do? 2 things.

Empowering your employees:

Oh, did I hate it when Steve Jobs put A,B,C players in boxes and he used to say that Apple is successful because their A players run circles around other B,C rejects from the company. I cannot help but felt how derogatory this is to the majority of people who were never given the opportunity to graduate from Stanford. Great leadership encourages self improvement instead of firing low performers. They listen intently and believe in them. I know this because I’m empowered every day and it’s not a fairytale. Man, am I lucky.

Trust and respect:

Give your employees generous boundaries. Contrary to conventional wisdom, boundaries don’t restrict team members; it means you TRUST them. Let them have autonomy, and let them prove to you they can do it too. No one was born to know exactly what to do with their lives, but they learn along the way. Credible leadership believe in their employees, and let them get on with it.

Needless to say, employees who are engaged shows better performance because they hit your happiness index right at the mark you want them to be. So leaders need to remember, their success is your greater success. Treat them how you want to be treated.

Stop making excuses. Humanise your company now.