By Bradford Rees, VP of Finance and Operations at Kenect
Just over two years ago, I attended my first company-wide standup meeting at Kenect.
As the newly hired head of finance for the company, the energy in the room was as great as I hoped. We talked about sales achievements, strong customer loyalty, and about company values.
Then at the end of the meeting, our co-founder Graham stood upfront and led the company in a unique team chant.
Just as you’ve seen in virtually any sports movie, Graham chanted a line, and then the team in unison repeated back that same line.
It went something like:
Graham: “I’m a 10!” Company: “I’m a 10!”
Graham: “I really am a 10!” Company: “I really am a 10!”
Graham: “I walk like a 10!” Company: “I walk like a 10!”
Graham: “I talk like a 10!” Company: “I talk like a 10!”
Graham: “Because I am a 10!” Company: “Because I am a 10!”
Graham & Company together: “And it SURE feels GOOD!”
Then, after a few laughs, the team dismissed and went back to their day.
After that meeting, and over the course of the next few months, I observed the Kenect team culture, and was convinced that I joined something special. Kenect really was a company of “10’s”.
This prompted some thoughtful questions for me:
What is a “10”?
With major plans for growth, how in the world can we continue to attract and hire a team of “10’s” at even greater scale than this?
I believe, that a “10” is a person that possesses the following attributes:
• Highly skilled at their individual role (sales, marketing, software development, finance…etc.)
• Exemplifies and lives by company values
• Positively impacts others within the company, their community, family, and friends
• Goes above and beyond to contribute to the company’s success, and selflessly helps other around them, including customers and other team members
A “10” is a person that is a net positive and makes every organization better. A “10” is not a perfect person but strives to be their best every day. “10” is an ideal that “10’s” strive for every day.
Fast forward 2 years since that company meeting. The team has grown over 4x. And the Kenect culture is as strong as it’s ever been.
So, how did we do it? How have we grown a team by 4x, and not lost the DNA that makes Kenect special?
I have a few thoughts. The list below is certainly not exhaustive, and each bullet point likely merits its own post altogether. Nonetheless, here is a high-level list of 9 critical ingredients in scaling a team while maintaining a culture of “10’s”:
1. Live the culture. Company values never materialize unless the highest levels of leadership lead by example. When hiring new team members, candidates can see if the values are contrived. On the other hand, when the culture is alive and engrained in team members, it’s tangible and the best candidates crave contributing to it.
2. Preach the company values. That’s right. Living the values alone isn’t enough. Repetition is key. It’s said that a message doesn’t stick until you repeat it 7 times. To build a strong company culture, you have to preach it over and over again. Teach the values. Celebrate them. Showcase team members that exemplify them. Remember, you might be tired of repeating the same message, but your newest team member, who’s been with you for only 2 weeks needs to hear it. At least 7 times.
3. Hit your revenue plan. Goes without saying. Kenect is the fastest growing company in Utah (Deloitte 500), and goodness does that help us attract top talent!
4. Design a detailed recruitment process. The devil is in the details. This is your opportunity to show off how buttoned up your company really is. It’s your first impression. From the first recruiter email to a phone screen and a visit to the office, let the candidates feel the crispness of the process. There’s a LOT to unpack here. From setting CLEAR expectations, to training hiring managers on interview etiquette and providing candidates with the materials and information necessary to nail the interview, there are multiple chances to WOW candidates. “10’s” need to be wowed. If you don’t, the next company will. The companies that attract the best candidates, nail, and scale the details.
5. Recruit for diversity and equal representation. “10’s” are represented by all groups of people. and a diverse group of “10’s” attracts even more “10’s”. “10’s” value diverse perspective and want to be part of a robust team representing various backgrounds of thought. At Kenect, we are committed to hiring a diverse workforce. We hold ourselves to a standard of interviewing a specific percentage of candidates representing all different backgrounds. We then select the best candidate for the role. Since implementing this policy, we have seen a natural increase in diverse representation across the company. As a result, our culture just gets better.
6. Evaluating candidates on cultural fit is just as critical as evaluating them for the relevant skills of the role. In advance of interviews, often, I send candidates a list of our company values with a description. I then dedicate time in the interview to dive deep into our values. We take this seriously. We want to ensure that candidates are aligned to the values we profess, and we want to ensure that we hire candidates who will naturally embody those values at Kenect.
7. Treat every candidate like a “10”. Often, when hiring a LOT of people, the interview process can get repetitive. Interviewing managers can often get lost in the monotony and forget that while it’s their 5th interview of the day, this is the candidate’s most important meeting of the day, or year! It’s a life changing decision they are making. They likely have studied company materials and brushed up on interview questions relevant to their specific discipline. The night before, they picked out just the right clothes to wear. And on their way to the interview, they received a “good luck!” text message from a loved one. As a prospective employer, don’t overlook this. Respond with the same excitement and enthusiasm as the candidate. And, for those candidates not picked for the role, disposition them with the respect their loved ones would expect.
8. Hire a world-class recruiter. At Kenect, we’ve nailed this. We have a rockstar recruiter, Justin Dedrickson. He’s building out and improving our recruitment process every day. And he holds the team accountable for all the items on this list. He’s laser focused on hiring “10’s”, and it makes all the difference.
9. Rinse and repeat. In a hyper-growth business, you are NEVER done recruiting. In fact, it becomes a growing effort, not a diminishing one. So, follow the process. Learn from each cycle and get better over time.
Just a month ago, I sat in a company meeting. It was a pretty typical company meeting for Kenect in 2022. I was surrounded by 100+ local team members, as we all faced 2 large TV screens showing the faces of about 60 more folks working remote. Our CEO stood and spoke of record-breaking sales performance, an A+ product, and customers that love us. The energy was tangible. Then at the end, our co-founder Graham, stood in front of the company and began a familiar chant…
“I’m a 10! …”
I looked around, at the team as they yelled to respond, “I’m a 10!”. This team, though much larger than before, was unequivocally composed of “10’s”. I then considered our plans for scale over the next few years, and asked, “How in the world can we continue to attract and hire “10’s” at even greater scale than this?!”
I think we’ve got our work cut out for us. And it SURE feels GOOD!