48: Hiring in Support with Craig Stoss

48: Hiring in Support with Craig Stoss

Craig Stoss agrees that “culture-fit” is a questionable ideal.  We talk about how we can hire differently.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, welcome to Episode 48 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. The theme for this week is hiring. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. Today I’d like to welcome back Craig Stoss. So Craig, the topic for this week is hiring in customer support. I’d love to know how you approach this.

Craig Stoss 0:45
I focus a lot on what I call cultural addition. You know, we quite that kind of a theme you heard over the past couple years was cultural fit. And I’m someone that disagrees with the idea of cultural fit.

Charlotte Ward 0:57
Yeah, and me too. I’m with you on that.

Craig Stoss 1:00
Yeah, I think that fit is just this idea of everyone has to be this cookie cutter. And usually, it’s defined by a small subset of executives or leaders within the company that may not even understand the business part that the organisation that you’re trying to build. And so cultural addition to me inherently helps foster career progression. If I hire someone that is super technical, and then I hire someone that’s maybe less technical, but super customer experience focussed, they can learn inherently from each other because they’re sitting next to each other doing similar work. So that’s step one, when you’re building a team is to think about what is the gap? What am I missing, you know, if you’re, if you’re supporting a software product, where there is, you know, technical components, there’s maybe business side components, and then there’s obviously the always the customer experience components, you need to have a mix of those skill sets in order to foster that that conversation and growth inherently built into that mechanism. But secondly, the other thing that you can do with that, that I have found very useful If you start to pinpoint, oh, so this person really likes technical writing on my team, why not let them be more involved in the knowledge base system knowledge management programme? This person over here is very technical, well, maybe that person could come up with some interesting scripts or, or interesting technical solutions to help make the support agents job more effective. Start to pinpoint what each person is interested in and build the role around them. Often we try to take a person and fit them into a job description where I would say, why don’t we build the job description around the person, because that is, again, inherently going to be more engaging to the individual, they’re going to strengthen skills that they want to strengthen, so they’re gonna be more interested in the work. And it gives them the chance to advance in the areas that are most interesting to them forwarding their career progression.

Charlotte Ward 2:50
And it benefits the business as well because you don’t have to necessarily hire your homogenised cookie cutter agents and then a technical writer, when you decide you finally need a technical writer, or somebody to do something else, or something, you know, some QA or whatever, it’s, you end up blurring the edges of your team into other parts of the business, which is, as you say, more engaging and more challenging, but also more beneficial for them and the business as well. It’s a brave decision, though, isn’t it? Don’t you think? I think it’s as a leader to say I am going to foster a hiring process where I will actively decide to try and hire people that are different from me and everyone else in my team.

Craig Stoss 3:37
I think it’s considered brave. I don’t know that it is should be brave because they’re brave, I think. Yeah, I feel like you know, I have been in organisations where I have found someone that I think would be a perfect cultural addition to my team. I feel like the problem that I would like that person to solve is something that’s very clear to me, and then they would go to the second round of interview and someone would disagree with me and say no That person isn’t a technical support Rep. But it’s like, yeah, you know, I agree with you. That’s not the problem I’m trying to solve here. One way to achieve that, that I have not done in my career, but I’ve seen done with other companies is to, as opposed to listing a job description as a series of bullet points of tasks list it as a series of bullet points of problems. So here are the 10 problems that we are attempting to solve. If you think you can solve one or more of these please apply and I’ve never done it myself, but I think that that’s a really interesting idea is to say, Do you think you can solve this problem, the job title might say, escalation manager, but really, it’s project management. It’s relationship building, it’s gap analysis, because we need to prevent escalations. There’s a tonne of these problems that I love that person to solve that the job title escalation manager probably doesn’t indicate.

Charlotte Ward 4:52
I’ve seen that kind of job post. I’ve never used it either. I think the job post formula I’m seeing slightly more of as well is the kind of vague list of things that you might be good at if you want to come and apply for this position type role rather than this is the job. And these are our requirements, which is helpful to nobody except the hiring manager and the HR department who usually between them come to some kind of compromise on how many bullet points they want to shoehorn into the thing, right. But those kind of posts which are you might be suited to this role, if you are good at this, you know, you might be suited to this role if you like doing this. Much the same thing, but really from the point of view of the applicants. So yeah, encouraging people to think of things differently and encouraging people to apply more with a growth mindset actually, and I think that shows in the leadership,

Craig Stoss 5:46
And it’s actually harder to game that type of posting, right because you have to prove that I can do those those types of things. I remember when I in high school when I was kind of taught how to build a resume and doing my first summer job. You know, one of the things that was kind of taught to us was if they use term x on the job description, you need to use term x in your resume, because they’re going to literally go and do a word search match of, you know, does this person have this set of words in the resume? And yeah, I think that’s, I mean, that makes it easy. And I feel like that’s where these, these companies that claim they can recruit through AI are playing. I think that’s an awful solution. But it’s something that I think if you start to talk about tangible actions and tangible types of projects, it’s a lot harder to game that, you need to have someone talk to you about that.

Charlotte Ward 6:40
That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/48 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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