Like many growing tech businesses Manchester-based software development and data analytics expert Naimuri has found recruitment a challenge.

The Salford-based firm was acquired in 2020 by Qinetiq for £25m and has a mandate for growth.

Richard Fallon is the co-founder and CTO and a recognised thought leader on lean ways of working and ‘out-the-box thinking’.

However he told TechBlast’s latest Going 4 Growth roundtable that he has one golden rule of recruitment – pick character over competence every time.

He explained: “We’re a technology organisation. We need people to be able to do the job. You can pay someone to do the work but what’s it going to be like when it goes wrong? What happens when they’re in front of a customer and the system fails? Are they going to be honest? Are they going to tell the truth or are they going to try and cover their tracks and blame someone else? That type of character is not what you want in your business.”

Fallon said the recruitment process has to be structured so you’re not influenced by what he calls the ‘halo effect’.

Beware the ‘halo effect’

The halo effect is when a positive impression of a person goes on to influence your opinion in another area, like recruitment.

Fallon explained: “A good example would be if you meet someone for the first time and they’re wearing a T-shirt with a picture of your favourite band on the front.

“If you’re not careful you can create an unconscious bias that you like this person and it can really influence your decision in a one-hour job interview.

“That’s why we put a lot of thought into how we structure the interviews, so that we’re able to tick off particular things that we’re looking for.”

Fallon said a key part of their growth strategy is creating a good work environment and empowering staff to make  decisions.

“It’s really important to be comfortable with everything not always working out,” he said. “Rather than thinking about managing people, it’s more about giving them a place that when things didn’t go right, they know that things will be okay and that they’re not going to get sacked because of it.”

Power groups

The entrepreneur is a big advocate of lean working but said the same approach that worked when Naimuri had 50 staff had to change when they had 100.

He pointed to the creation of small groups of people within the company called ‘power groups’ as being a pivotal moment.

“I can’t take any credit for creating power groups because it wasn’t my idea,” he said. “A power group is a group of people within the organisation responsible for particular things like communication, sustainability and diversity. It gives people the power to come up with ideas because other people will normally have much better ideas than you can.”

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