What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects 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 Asher Primrose.
Asher Primrose is the Director of Human Resources for LaCalle Group, the parent company of Continued and Simucase. She offers more than 20 years of human resources experience in small and medium-sized companies. She previously led global performance management strategy and programs at Hitachi Consulting. She has a BA in Sociology from UCLA and is a Certified Birkman Method consultant. Primrose was named a “For All Leader” by Great Place to WorkⓇ in 2020.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?
I had strong administrative and organizational skills almost at birth and took a temporary role supporting an HR team right out of college before I even knew what HR did. My degree in Sociology fostered my interest in social relationships and patterns, but I found that I was really drawn to developing tools, programs, and processes to support the people that make an organization run. I landed my first role as an HR administrator and steadily grew into higher-level HR roles. My core strength in the process has allowed me to develop and implement highly impactful programs that enhance company culture and attract and retain great talent. However, being organized and process-driven is just one piece of it. You need to have a great sense of people and what makes them tick to be successful in a strategic HR role, so I have continued to hone these essential skills.
Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?
What I’ve found most interesting throughout my years in the HR profession is that in order to have a positive workplace culture, everyone in your company must be a keeper of your culture. The key is to hire people who will not only enhance your culture but will feel a sense of ownership for it. When you have people who really understand and buy-in to the culture, they, in turn, care about bringing other people who will enhance the culture as well. HR cannot solely own culture — there needs to be shared ownership across the company.
Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?
Hiring can be difficult in any work environment, but as head of human resources for a completely virtual company, I’m often met with intrigue and even skepticism over the concept of a 100% remote workforce. How do we recruit qualified, talented, and committed team members, and what makes them successful in a remote environment? How can we ensure the people we hire will be reliable, productive, and collaborative without on-site supervision? We assess candidates in the following ways:
First and foremost, we assess a potential candidate for culture fit from the very beginning of the application process. I have consistently seen how accurately you can determine a candidate’s fit and set them up for success when you keep the company’s culture and core values at the forefront of every hiring decision.
To that end, it is crucial that candidates do their homework. If a candidate doesn’t know what we do when I call them or have any idea about our story or culture, it is a clear indicator that they won’t be a fit. They should also have an understanding of remote work in general. Virtual work isn’t for everyone, but 100% remote work is life-changing for many of our team members and is part of the formula for our company’s success.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS — STOCK COVER LETTERS NEED NOT APPLY!
First impressions are key, and this starts with the cover letter. How a person communicates in their cover letter gives us our first clue about fit. We look for strong written communication skills, a demonstrated passion for what they do, a clear interest in our company, a warm personality, and a sense of humor. Candidates should also be sure to demonstrate that they have fully read and understood the job as posted.
EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Ideal candidates are great on the phone/video and can emote warmth, expertise, humility, and a good sense of humor when not face-to-face. They are also clear and succinct communicators and strong listeners. Since we are a 100% remote team, this ability is a key indicator of fit.
MULTI-LAYER, MULTI-PERSON INTERVIEW PROCESS
If a candidate advances to the interview process, our standard vetting practice includes two to three phone interviews with a variety of team members, a reference check with two to three former managers or colleagues, and a final in-person interview. This multi-layer, the multi-person approach has been extremely successful, as evidenced by our less than 3% annual voluntary turnover.
Before a position is offered, we conduct a thorough behavioral assessment to determine the strengths, needs, motivations, and interests of the potential team member. Once on board, this information provides a much better understanding of one another, which helps to foster productive conversations and daily interactions, with the larger goal of improving the overall performance of the company. The tool we use for this is The Birkman Method, an instrument to better understand interpersonal dynamics and achieve higher performance through positive psychology. New team members learn how to interpret their Birkman results in their first month by reviewing them with me — a Certified Birkman Method Consultant — and also their manager.
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?
There is so much data out there now for people to research both the good and the bad about potential employers. People are seeking companies that treat their employees well and have great company values and cultures, so we spend time promoting our culture to attract the best.
One way we’ve done this is applying to be a Great Place to Work-certified company, a designation we’ve sought and received two years in a row. This certification, based on anonymous surveys from our team members, recognizes our company as an elite workplace for culture and business practices.
Another thing we’ve come to rely on is Glassdoor, as a large percentage of candidates find us through our consistently positive reviews from employees and candidates, and our 5-star rating. These reviews provide honest insight into what it’s like to work here.
A recent addition to our recruitment strategy is the development of a company blog to highlight the people and programs that make our company unique. Prior to the blog launch, it was difficult for many applicants to fully understand what it’s like to work for a 100% remote company and get a sense of our commitment to company culture and work-life balance. The blog helps convey this in a natural way and it is often mentioned, and even quoted, in interviews with applicants. The blog has had an amazing impact on candidates’ interest in our company and helps us attract great talent and people who will continue to enhance our culture.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would love to inspire more organizations to offer remote work options for their team members. Many job roles can be performed from anywhere, and virtual work can have huge benefits to both the employee and employer. Remote work allows team members to shed lengthy commutes, work in an environment that is comfortable for them, and have more time for family or for other activities they enjoy outside of work. For the employer, allowing team members to work remotely can be cost-saving and have a positive impact on the environment. Plus, happy employees = more productive employees!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life?
I love the quote “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
I’ve always felt it’s important to move forward and not get stuck worrying about making the wrong decision. You can always adjust, but make a decision and go for it!
We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC, 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?
It would be a tremendous honor to meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I admire her tremendously for the many ways she’s persevered in adversity, advanced equality, broken barriers, and paved the way for future generations.
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!