Being a fast growth business and named a best employer for the last five years means that clearly recruitment is at the core of everything we do.
As the founding director and the entrepreneur who started RedBalloon and grew it to a significant sized business, the hardest hire ever was the person I had to recruit to replace myself – and knowing when the right time to do that was.
In the early days I was very much involved with every recruitment decision. In our sixth year, it was brought to my attention by then-marketing manager that this was not necessarily a good thing. The people we were beginning to bring into the organization did not necessarily have the best values fit for the business – nor the best experience to build a rigorous enterprise.
It takes something to look in the mirror and say: “I am no longer the best person to run the recruiting process.” Quite frankly as an enthusiastic (understatement) entrepreneur, I was too busy talking and “selling” the virtues of RedBalloon to ask hard questions and listen to the answers of the candidates.
It was time to bring in a professional. The most strategic hire I ever made was the HR professional – known to RedBalloon as Head of Employee Experience – to own the onboarding program. And one thing I am immensely proud of is that she completely flipped not only the recruitment program but also everything surrounding the “HR pillars” at RedBalloon, so much so that in 2011 she won the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) HR practitioner of the year.
The thing that I did learn about hiring is that it is absolutely a two-way street – the recruitment process is just as much about the candidate getting to know RedBalloon as it is us getting to know them. Ultimately it does need to be a perfect melding of shared values and vision for a deep connected relationship to be created.
I had, had a long corporate career before starting RedBalloon – and if there is one thing that I had learned it is that we are only ever custodian’s of a brand. In fact our job is to nurture, grow and that ultimately a businesses success can not be dependent on any personality – especially not the founder.
RedBalloon at its core wants a team of people who know what they stand for. The RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan had a big career in fast-moving consumer goods before joining us. This all changed when her identical twin sister had a medical diagnosis. It made her wonder: “where am I spending my life?” She began to take control of her destiny; she wanted to deeply believe in what she was doing, to use her talents for good and to make the world a better place.
The below diagram is her musings as she set out to answer the question: “Whom do I want to work for?”
Kristie joined RedBalloon close to six years ago as a marketing manager – she was formerly appointed as CEO at the beginning of this year
The hardest hire is the one that replaces you. People wonder how I achieved this and it simply comes down to one word – Trust.
I can deeply and without question trust Kristie because at the very core of our relationship is a shared vision, a deep and committed living of our values, and we are completely aligned.
We are on a journey together (I have no day to day operational duties apart from my role as a director on the board), we understand each other and we believe in each other. It took time, but this transition to replace myself has not been tough at all.