Building Your Dream Team - Executive Roundtable

Or, when was the last time you felt joy at work?
Sep 19, 2019
Matt Massucci
Matt Massucci
Founder and Managing Partner
three women smiling at a table

Share This Blog

This month we’re focused on building your dream team. So far you’ve heard our own dream team extol the virtues and challenges of hiring entry level people and bringing in leaders from the outside. Now hear directly from some of the companies we work with about how they’ve built their dream teams. 

We spoke with Elisabeth Duncan, director of Human Resources at Evive; Jen Meza, vice president of People at Yello; and Jane Price, director of Talent Acquisition at VillageMD. They each share what’s worked, the challenges they’ve faced and what they’re most proud of. 

What has worked best for you in building your team? 

Jane shared that leveraging VillageMd’s current employees for recruiting has been really helpful. She works with an amazing team of people who live and breathe VillageMD’s core values. She added that they don’t even have a formal program to utilize employee support for recruiting the best candidates. There’s nothing to incentivize employees for this support. It’s just a formal thank you. Employees play a role because they feel strongly about the mission of the company.

For Jen it’s about bringing on what you don’t already have. At Yello, individual teams take the Myers-Briggs, and assess which skills already exist. For example, if someone has a whole team of introverts or extroverts, they can look for other skills when recruiting new members to achieve balance. 

Jen rigorously focuses on what’s important to the role she’s looking to fill, but also what’s important to the candidate. Just because someone can do the job doesn’t mean they can be successful. Jen stresses that companies don’t spend enough time on this. They don’t look to explore people’s motivations and drivers. What will light a fire? She also likes to ask candidates what drove them to leave any jobs they’ve left. And when was the last time they felt joy at work? 

At Yello, it’s not just about when a candidate was successful or accomplishments they were proud of. It’s about core values and being authentic. If a candidate won’t share something negative in an interview, how will they share something negative when they work with you?

Elisabeth talked about Evive’s focus on hiring for cultural fit and how they involve the team that the candidate would potentially work with in the interview process. Involving the team in the interview process brings a different point of view and ownership. The team knows what skills they currently have, so now, how do they get the skills they want? Elisabeth added that crafting the proper job description brings clarity to market so the candidates are clear as to what the company wants. Bottom line: you want to get the right talent. 

Evive also utilizes behavioral interviewing as a way to assess which candidates are going to be cohesive and enhance the team. When they ask a candidate a question, they ask about why they did something, focusing less on the technical aspects of the work and more on how the candidate went about problem-solving. They also look at how the candidate articulates their approach to their work. They explore what the candidate went through and how they achieved it, picking a topic and then drilling down. They assess what the candidate chooses to share and how they share it.

What kinds of challenges and failures have you faced? 

At Yello, Jen discussed rushing a group of hires a couple of years ago; a year later, most of them weren’t there. She felt that Yello didn’t do their job, that the company had lacked alignment between what they asked the hires to do and what they needed them to do. These were entry-level positions, but it would have been better to take an extra month to make the best hires. It’s hard to sacrifice time when it’s one of the most valuable assets you have, but the company needed to do just that. Now they’re more rigorous. For example, they’ll debrief on the candidates, and if there’s a warning sign, they’ll pump the breaks. They also do competency-based interviews and afterwards ask the team for a thumbs up, down or middle on the candidates. If the team is all middle, Jen knows they’ve done something wrong with the interview plan. It means the Hiring Managers were not prepared. Hiring is a skill, and if you don’t work on it, you don’t get better.

Jane’s response was less about failure and more about decisions that led to a learning experience for VillageMD. She joined the company to build a campus recruiting program after the company had hired a group of analysts right out of undergrad. VillageMD was still small and didn’t have the resources or structure in place to formally support the development of these entry-level hires, but didn’t learn this until after the company was well underway with hiring its second group of campus hires. When analysts started leaving, the company honed in on why – analyzing their exit feedback for trends to see what they could learn and how they could better support this employee population. These fresh hires were seeking guidance, mentorship and professional development. VillageMD came to the realization that they didn’t have the infrastructure or resources in place to successfully integrate the hires into the company and support their ongoing development. The company pushed pause on their formal campus recruiting program, but know that they’ll likely be back on campus soon to support the organic growth of the organization and be poised to foster the new hires professional development from the onset.

At start-up Evive, Elisabeth has to be sure they’re hiring smart. If it’s the right cultural fit, the candidates will work, but the company has had  to learn how to use assessments appropriately. The company doesn’t need a copywriter assessment if they’re hiring a developer. All developers do a coding assessment, but the company doesn’t use those for leadership positions. Leadership candidates undergo a logic assessment, focusing on reason. 

What have been your greatest successes? 

At VillageMD, the talent acquisition function initially was comprised of small team and focused on hiring people quickly to staff-up the company. Once they had more bandwidth, they put in a framework and structure, building out the talent acquisition platform and driving value for their partners. For Jane, driving value involves building a trusting relationship. They’re not just order takers, they’re actively listening, coming-up with solutions and suggestions. They’re about more than just the transactional nature of recruiting.

Yello focuses on making data-driven decisions. Human Resources as a field has been behind the ball with people analytics, but that’s changed in the last six to seven years. Yes, Jen said, it’s possible to look at hiring holistically, while also diving into the data. Working with Holistic has been really great because they are a partner in crunching the numbers, analyzing results and landing on data-driven solutions.

Elisabeth says that teaming with Hirewell has made all the difference at Evive—especially in knowing the talent pool for Tech. Chicago is a passive environment, where candidates are not proactively chasing opportunities, and she couldn’t wait for people to apply for open positions. Evive has put dollars towards proactively sourcing. Also though, people aren’t necessarily aware of small organizations, so Elisabeth has been focused on making people aware of the brand. Her team has been highlighting things within Evive’s environment on social media, posting content about the organization, talking about major events or culture and ensuring content is aligned with the Evive way. They also partner with Built In Chicago, an online community for Chicago startups and tech companies. There they post jobs and articles, engage in networking and attend events. 

Evive also benefits from the general fact that Millennials care about the products on which they work. Evive is focused on utilization of benefits, something that impacts people’s well-being—an issue that drives Millennials and that they want to be part of.

Final Thoughts

What can you learn from how these HR leaders built their dream teams?

Take your time.

Put the proper interview processes in place and ensure your team is trained to execute them.

Determine which skills you’re missing, seek clarity in the role and job description you’re looking to fill, and focus on alignment with your company’s core values.

Make data-driven decisions.

Provide professional development opportunities to your hires once they’re on board.

And when you need support identifying the best talent available to you, give us a shout, because we’re happy to help.    

Matt Massucci
Matt Massucci
Founder and Managing Partner

More Blogs Written by Matt

Sign-up for the latest recruiting insights because you need to know what you don't know.