How Companies Identify And Retain Top Talent with Tom Griffiths & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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Hone Human Resources Hiring Strategies

Take time to understand a candidate, what are their hopes, dreams and areas of development, then work with them to shape a role that is win-win for you both.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking with top experts in the field to teach you what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Tom Griffiths.

Tom Griffiths co-founded FanDuel where he grew the company from 5 to 500 employees. He is now the co-founder and CEO of Hone. Tom received his master’s degree in computer science from the University of Cambridge, and PhD in machine learning from the University of Edinburgh, where he also earned his bachelor’s degree. Originally from Wales, UK, he lives in San Francisco, CA, with his wife and daughter.

Thank you for doing this! What are 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

1. Scorecards: It’s crucial to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and distil that into a scorecard to ensure a holistic and fair process for assessing candidates…all scorecards have some dimensions in common, like “Smarts”, “Ability to get things done”, “Passion for our mission”, and others that are role-specific. They’re scored from 1–5: 1 = reason for turn down, 2 = weakness, 3 = acceptable, 4 = strength, 5 = exceptional. We look for a mix of 4s and 5s, don’t tolerate 1s, and only accept 2s or3s if there are ways to mitigate.

2. Resume clues: It’s age-old wisdom but it’s true: strong, concise, well-designed resumes make a great impression. Errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar are instant turn-offs. On the flip side, positive signals are a rapid progression, patterns of excellence, side projects and entrepreneurial ventures (even if they didn’t work out).

3. Calibrate: Sourcing talent can be hard, and sometimes it’s in an area you don’t have experience with. When you’re a young startup you have to figure that out yourself. Have conversations with experts in that function, ask for the best people they know, and have a casual conversation to map the territory of the different types of candidates that are out there and calibrate yourself on what great looks like.

4. Homework: You’ve got to check that candidates can walk the talk, regardless of seniority. While standard, it’s worth reiterating the value of homework exercises that ask candidates to complete a series of tasks to demonstrate they can actually do the job. I design them to follow a typical workflow for the function from start to finish touching on each stage.

5. Manage Bias: It’s important to be aware that unconscious bias is everywhere, particularly in hiring. We must raise our awareness to overcome it because diverse teams are good for business. Confirmation bias (I’m seeing what I thought I would) and Like-me bias (this person is like me so they must be good) are two of the most common, so catch and correct yourself.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

1. Purpose and mission: the best talent, particularly younger generations, are drawn to purpose and mission overcompensation, so ensure you have a clear and authentic purpose and mission, then evangelize them to candidates they might appeal to draw them to your cause.

2. Ambition fit: take time to understand a candidate, what are their hopes, dreams, and areas of development, then work with them to shape a role that is win-win for you both.

3. Authentic approach: as a founder, you’ll more often than not get a reply from top talent by telling your story authentically. Do so in a way specific to them to start a conversation and build a relationship., that may lead to hire down the line.

What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?

1. Great management: people join a company but leave a manager. 70% of employee engagement is due to manager performance. Training managers with the mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets to enable their team to flourish and perform is the foundation for strong retention.

2. Ambition alignment: like ambition fit in hiring, ensuring there’s continued alignment between a person’s career goals and the opportunities in front of them at your company will keep them engaged. Check-in on that at least quarterly, and reshape roles or find new opportunities that are win-win (and if that’s not possible it’s best for both to part ways).

3. Create a tribe: company culture needs to be built intentionally, with the norms and values defined and demonstrated through action. Nowhere is this more important than hiring and firing. Doing so can create a diverse tribe bound together with common purpose and culture, and a high-performing organization that people want to stay with.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Make every manager great! People spend more time at work than at home, and the quality of work time is massively impacted by the quality of your manager. Companies are more productive and people are happier when managers do a good job, and that is something that can be taught.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” — Stephen Covey.

This is powerful to remember in itself, forms the foundation for the coaching mindset (which we teach as the heart of great management) and is one of Hone’s 10 operating principles because it applies to every interaction we have with learners, customers and each other.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Mike Moritz at Sequoia. We’re both from Wales and have made the pilgrimage to Silicon Valley, where he’s a legend for working with some of the greatest companies and founders of all time. We’d have a lot to talk about!

Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights with us!

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