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  • Writer's pictureMark Harbottle

Learning from successes

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

As I'm coming to the end of my first calendar year as Head of Talent at Cronofy, I've reflected on the successes and lessons. TL;DR, it's been an eye opening (almost) 12 months, I've learnt more than I hoped to, and I'm looking forward to building on the achievements of 2021.


When I started out at Cronofy, it was new territory for me. An internal role, in an industry which I was hugely passionate about, but I had so much to learn. My real aim for the year was to soak it all up, understand how this function works and what value I could add. I hoped to make positive, incremental changes and slowly build a longer term strategy that grew as the business did. Over the year I feel my influence towards positive change has grown, and the things I've worked on have been of increasing long term importance.


Here are some of the highlights and achievements of the year...


We've done loads of recruitment


I'm responsible for attracting, developing and retaining our Talent. During the first half of the year the business priorities were very much on the attracting part. I chose and implemented an ATS (props to Personio) and put some structure into our recruitment and selection process. We're a pretty well oiled machine now, our Time to Hire (the period from application to acceptance) is more than 50% ahead of the market average and our selection process is consistent across all our departments.


We've managed to double our headcount this year, and I also designed our onboarding process so that new starters have the same positive experience when joining Cronofy. I feel the need to emphasise the phrase positive experience because this is paramount. My aim is, and always will be, from first contact with our business there is a positive impression - all interactions need to reflect that we really do care (because we do).


Here is a list of some of the things we're doing to ensure a positive candidate experience:

  • Our amazing Scheduling tool has allowed us to give candidates the opportunity to choose an interview time that fits with their availability. This flexibility means they don't have to worry about their job or family. It fits around what works for them. This is probably the point that gets recognised the most

  • Everyone who applies for a role receives feedback - whether we proceed with their application or not. If we've spoken to someone (any interview) we provide more detailed feedback. I believe this common courtesy goes a long way.

  • Our careers page details our benefits, salary bands and the full interview process for every role. We don't want to surprise anyone or catch someone out unfairly

  • Our evaluation form (AKA interview matrix, scorecard) is used across all departments - we're able to objectively and equally compare applicants, trying to remove opportunities for bias. It also means that when we feedback we can be clear and provide evidence to back it up

  • We all approach interviews seriously, and try to act quickly for applicants who we want to progress with. We hired a Senior Engineer in less than two weeks, and they had four interviews

  • Our ATS is full service, from application through to onboarding and employing. Keeping this in one place makes things easier and quicker to manage

  • When we email candidates about next stages, we tell them what we want to talk to them about. Links to our careers page, our Principles, how long an interview will be, who will be involved, what we're looking for in a task... it's not rocket science, but it means we're getting value out of every conversation

It's astonishing how many people comment on their experience interviewing at Cronofy. I'll never get tired of getting positive feedback, even from applications that we sadly don't progress with - I take a lot of pride in this. Equally, I still think we can do better. That being said, we've hired some wonderful people this year, all of which bring a broad range of experiences and all add to our culture. We're so lucky to have them. To those reading this, you know who you are.


Cronofy now has a proper Careers page


A little later into the year we designed a careers page to give more transparency on our business, recruitment process and what it's like working at Cronofy. It's given us a source to refer back to, and a perfect starting point for anyone curious about working here. I've also settled on sources for advertising, how and where we advertise our roles.


I'm making sure I'm doing it right


Recruitment this year hasn't been without its challenges. There were times when I thought we were't going to hire, when candidate pools were so small that I questioned my ability to find the right people. Sticking to our Principles, doing things the right way, and finding the balance between pragmatism and perfection eventually led to a positive outcome. I persevered with our advertising when I knew it was the best. Not reacting to market demands (oh hello [another recruitment tool] what can I do for you today?) and maintaining consistent employer branding across the right places was the right thing to do.


Stat-attack


One of the biggest things I learnt under the umbrella of recruitment was about good KPI's. Over the year, almost monthly, I was looking at more data: effectiveness of our adverts, conversion rate, time to fill, time to hire, cost per hire... the list goes on (it really does). This wasn't blindly reaching for stats, I recall Adam our CEO telling me to 'think about what KPI's you could game, how could you fix these stats to mean something else?' and that resonated. It's all about the quality. While I record a lot, now I'm looking towards 2022 and our recruitment demands with a lot more clarity. I know how I'm going to hire, what I'm going to invest, where I'm going to invest it, and what the impact needs to be. I'll know what I can rely on and I can make more accurate predictions on how long it may take to hire for certain roles.


I didn't need to reinvent the wheel when it came to recruitment, but I've certainly contributed to sanding it off and making it smoother, quicker and less likely to end up in the pit stop.


Not forgetting the People bit


Although recruitment was a consistent theme throughout the year, once we'd settled into our processes and structure, I was able to spend more time on the development and retention of our Talent. This wasn't just a learning curve, it was a learning wall. I took on some huge projects and although still room for improvement, I've been delighted with the outcome.


We created a Competency Framework


This started with a conversation with Karl, our Head of Operations, about some policies around reviews. Within 4 months we'd implemented a Performance Management tool (Lattice), created a competency framework and pillars for defining success at Cronofy. The result is much more structure around our review process and we've been able to provide so much more clarity around career development opportunities. There is still work to do here, I'm fine tuning this process for a better user experience.


My vision is to publish our Competency Framework, and I will write a blog post detailing our process in creating this.


We're building on our EVP (Employee Value Proposition)


As we started to complete our careers page, I recognised the need for more focus on our Employee Brand. In such a competitive market the demand for talent is endless, and has never been so challenging. I know how great it is working here, so how do we translate that to the market?


I've worked hard on defining our Employer Brand, thinking about who we want to hire and how. I've also looked at our content, thinking about what we want to say about us and how we want to communicate that.


One particularly important element of that was around retaining our talent. Over the last few months I've run an anonymous survey internally and this has led to us putting more focus on the delivery of information, how we communicate with people and provide feedback. We're also assessing our company benefits package.


It wasn't easy receiving feedback that we perhaps hadn't thought about, or pockets of the business that people thought could be improved. Our people are our most valuable asset, and I was so grateful for their honesty. We've taken it all on board and I'm working hard to make this great business even better.


Alongside this, we've engaged with a third party consultancy to do some salary benchmarking to give our teams the reassurance that their salary is reflective of market rates and that they don't have to be a great negotiator in order to be paid fairly.


All this effort was rewarded when we were recognised by Flexa as a Flexible Employer, and by Haystack as a Culture Champion (coming to an email signature near you!). It proves that we practice what we preach, and that this really is a place that people want to work.


ED&I is really important to us


We have a vision for equality, diversity and inclusion that we're spending a lot of time trying to define. I was responsible for rolling out D&I training for our leadership team (thanks to 50:50future for delivering), and we plan on providing further sessions for the rest of the business in the New Year.


My strategy is to create an ED&I framework that we publish. It'll provide complete transparency on who we are, our policies, how we work... everything that anyone needs to know about working here.



So that's a lot covered this year! There are loads of other things I've done, including supporting L&D goals, coaching, and personal development in my CIPD qualification. I've also made considerable contribution to our #mayo channel on Slack, fed people too much at our All Hands In Person, binged Taylor Swift on Spotify and had more laughs than I care to count. I think it's fair to say that there have been some growing pains this year, but it's how we've dealt with them that I've been most impressed with - head on, transparently, involving everyone. I've no doubt that we're in a wonderful position to make next year a roaring success.


Looking forward to 2022


As I look towards the next year, a lot of the above projects will continue, recruitment will go on (it always does), and as a business we'll take the next step in our growth. I'm excited by the launch of our Amsterdam office, and I can't wait to meet the new faces that will join Cronofy and contribute to its success.


I owe a special tribute to every member of the Cronofy team, who welcomed me with open arms and have been so supportive. Even though I wouldn't have a job without them, I definitely couldn't do my job without every single one of them.


As for me, I'm going to juggle this alongside some CIPD level 7 modules, and navigate a 2 year old through his own set of challenges. Bring it on.

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