Hiring Practices & Catalytic Thinking: Summary of Meeting #2

At the March meeting of Creating the Future’s Integrity Board, we continued applying Catalytic Thinking to the critical conversation around hiring and contracting processes and practices.

At our first meeting about this topic in February, we had already addressed the first two questions of Catalytic Thinking – the question of who would be affected by our hiring practices, and the question of why this topic is important. You can see a summary of that discussion here.

During the March meeting, we started dissecting every aspect of the hiring process, asking the high-potential question: What would good look like for this part of the process? What could this aspect of hiring make possible for all those individuals who will be affected?

The following is a summary of that conversation. We are deeply grateful to this month’s documentarian, John Epps, for capturing these notes.

If you want to watch or listen to the meeting in full, head to this link.

What does good look like in the interview process for potential employees or contractors? What would the experience make possible for everyone who will be affected by that process?

  • Better hiring would be about hiring people who are really qualified and well-suited for the job and not just the most credentialed candidate.
  • Good hiring would enable people to bring their best foot forward in the process.
  • There are too many short-cuts and proxies that obscure the process. The process needs to be more transparent and clearer.
  • We would focus on the actual skills the candidate needs to do the job rather than asking for a particular degree or credential.
  • The process will honor the lived experience of people and look for indicators of the qualities we want in the candidates.
  • Candidates are looking for equity and a fair exchange of information. Candidates would know the relevance of a request. Why are we doing a reference check?
  • We need to get rid of the code language between hirers that we often use to protect ourselves from litigation.
  • Candidates and references need to know the context of the job to make meaningful comments and responses.
  • Candidates need to get feedback from their interviews that help them make better choices.
  • Introduce humanity into the process by making it people centered.

What would make the process more comfortable for the candidate? What would allow us to get to know candidates better? What would help candidates feel more welcome?

  • Can we document the process and share it with the candidates? Inform the candidate about the hiring process. What are the next steps? How many people will the candidate interview with? Will the interviews be individual or groups? How long do they need to wait for a response? Can we develop a video that explains the process and welcomes the candidate’s questions?
  • Allow the candidates to ask questions about the process and set timelines and next steps that work for them.
  • What are the values we are looking for in our candidates? We can teach skills easier than we can reset values. What would it take to explore the alignment of our values and their values? What would ensure that our values are evident in the hiring process?
  • Consider practices like having peers interview candidates and take them to lunch to allow both candidates and peers to get to know one another better prior to coming to the job. Allow peers to be honest about the joys and the challenges they find day to day at work so he candidates get an accurate feel for the work environment.

What does good look like in the job description? What would a 10-star job description look like? What would a job description look like that would blow your socks off?

  • Can we get away from a four to six-page job description with words like “Required Skills” and “Desired Skills”?
  • The job description would have super inclusive language rather than language which creates bias or eliminates consideration for the position.
  • We could offer ways to negotiate the job description details to help determine what tasks are the most important parts of the job and what the candidate would bring to the position if hired.
  • How much of what we do in the hiring process is driven by fear of litigation? Too often, to cover all of the checkboxes we may actually miss some of the most important points for finding the right candidate for the work. We need to challenge the orthodoxies and restrictions to try to get the job description right over trying to comply with the status quo or trying to avoid accusations of not treating everyone the same.
  • We need to be aware of becoming idea-driven versus remaining causality-driven by remaining mindful of the need to maintain humanity throughout the process of developing the job description.
  • “Let’s Build This Together!” Be explicit about what is the obligation of the company to the incoming employee or consultant and be clear about the expected contributions of the employee or consultant to the company. This position forces both sides to define the essential values and processes for the job.
  • We are not only professionals we are also people and want to be treated with humanity.
  • We want people to know what they are getting into. There is often a disparity (dishonesty) about what candidates are told that they will be doing before they are hired and what they find themselves doing when they start working. Too often starting a new job almost feels like joining a cult where much is hidden.
  • Radical Transparency –The job description would be up front about everything including benefits, leave policies, staff makeup (who’s there already), who will be interviewing them, what phase or stage is the business at (Are they in a growth stage? What does this mean?), are they looking for a creative to drive innovation or for someone to be sure they are compliant? Our books are open to you.
  • There would be links embedded in the job description allowing candidates to launch short videos with details for each area of the job and the company.
  • Consider innovative policies like “unlimited leave” to customize the work to prioritize the needs of the candidate.

What does good look like in terms of running ads and letting people know about the job?

  • Be aware of all the platforms that we can use to reach candidates and develop an awareness of the different audiences they attract. Identify which platforms are most like attract the people with the experience and values that we are looking for. Remain as inclusive as possible without overwhelming our resources or creating hype ads or clickbait.
  • Go beyond being welcoming, be encouraging.
  • Pass it on. Be sure whatever messages we send include a request to share this information with others that they feel may be a good match for the job.
  • What would it take for people to find us by using search (AI)? What are the important keywords to get noticed? What is in the message that would make them want to find out more about Creating the Future?
  • What would it take for our values to guide us in making these decisions? There would be a space on our website that explains in one place what is in store for the next three years and why we are looking at staffing the way we are.
  • We recognize that Catalytic Thinking does not play well in the AI Search space and that challenge needs to be included in how we approach finding people.
  • Word of Mouth may be the best approach to finding the right candidates. Do we already know some talented people who may be a great fit for what we are trying to do? We want to be authentic and inviting to the right candidates for the job.
  • Frequently organizations over hire. We need to look for people with the skills and values we want and who can grow as we go forward without being bored or overwhelmed. They may not always be the most qualified person that applies for the position, but the position fits them well today and going forward. We need to be brutally honest about salary, growth, raises, and where the job may be in three years. We want to find people who align with our values.
  • Allow people to choose the right opportunity for them and give them a chance even if they are not perfect. Look for people who think they can help us, and they feel they can learn and grow in the process. People wouldn’t feel they have to stay when they are ready to leave. There are a lot of talented people out there!
  • We want to attract amazing humans. We need to be intentional in looking for diverse candidates. There is no ubiquitous group based on race, gender, etc. so we need to look for the right person for the job not just someone who helps us check off a box. Our message would explicitly reflect that we want to collaborate with people from underserved communities, women, LGBTQ+, and people of color. This intentionality may not stop others from applying but rather may help us attract people who are looking to be part of a more diverse work environment.

Reflections: What is standing out to you from our conversation today?

  • What shows respect? Be transparent. Use our strengths. (Angie)
  • Put people at the center of the process. We are human beings. (Karl)
  • Fearless Integrity, holding values so strongly, prioritizing people, strengths. Humanity, Dignity, and Respect in a Radical and Revolutionary Way. Carry these principles forward in all our work (Chantene)
  • Integrity is self-evident in our discussions. “Have a Gracious Intolerance for Values Misalignment”. What do aligned systems look like? Demonstration of how the organization practices its values. Transparency in allowing reflection. (Justin)
  • How much of a burden COVID puts on process and how much needs to change. What would it take to create a stage where people can shine and where they can feel that they matter and that they are cared for? What is it that I want to do with my life? It is not just about work. (Beatriz)
  • Two metaphors: 1) It’s Hard or it’s Not! (Hildy) Do these actions! 2) We’re stuck in the Goo but… There is a hand reaching in (each other) …To pull us out (each other)! (Dimitri)
  • People need to do work that they like – make it human centered. We do work because we are here, not we are here because of the job. Keep focused on the Why behind the work. It is important to have fun while you are doing the work. (John)
  • If we are not laughing we are not doing it right! We need to FUG it up (Fun, Upbeat and Goofy)! (Dimitri)
  • Hopeful! We’ve made the legal minimum the standard versus understanding what it takes to actually be creating good!

This conversation will continue at our next meeting, April 8th at 10am PT / 1pm ET. We hope you will join us, because this is one of the most important discussions any employer can have.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.