“Interviewing is like dating”, says Colin Dickinson, CEO of Altus Dynamics and AceTech Ontario CEO member, “anyone can fake their way through the first date, but the real test is if you can make it to the third date, and let’s face it, the really good stuff happens on the third date”.
Altus Dynamics was recently pleased and honoured to be awarded the number five Best Small Workplace in Canada (up to 50 employees). We had a chance to sit down with Colin and talk about Altus Dynamics’ “secret sauce”. Ultimately, there’s a handful of factors that makes his company stand out from the crowd, however, he attributes a considerable amount of their success to their ability to find the right people.
“We are in a war for talent. I’m certain that everyone in my position who’s a part of AceTech Ontario understands this”, says Colin, “If you can get better people, that is the number one way that you can be better than everyone else. In fact, probably the only sustainable advantage today is to have good people”. As a result of this, Colin has spent the last 13 years perfecting their hiring process and having a corporate culture that fits their business. Colin ensures that his employees are not simply punching a clock in and out, but are bringing their full selves to work every single day.
A number of years ago, Colin read an article on knowledge work in Harvard Business Review that stated that a high performing knowledge worker is seven (!) times more productive than his or her intermediate co worker. This statistic has motivated Colin and his executive team to find those high performing knowledge workers who fit with Altus Dynamics’ corporate culture. Throughout the years, they have been able to greatly improve their hiring process and ensure that they take their time with each hire that they make. Colin has learned to avoid getting “happy eyes”.
What are “happy eyes”? In sales, there’s a term called “happy ears” where a prospect might tell a salesperson that they are seriously considering their product or service. Some salespeople will take that at face value without realizing that they are getting brushed aside. When hiring, “happy eyes” happens when a company will look at a CV, see what they want to see, become enamored and not look beyond that. This is why Altus Dynamics has a very involved hiring process. “Google has a great approach where they involve a lot of people in their hiring process, which we do as well”, explains Colin, “Everyone has a vote, up or down and if one person has a down vote, we are no longer interested in that candidate. Google’s perspective is on this is that they would rather forgo good talent then hire bad talent”.
Lastly, Colin stresses that finding the right fit is a two-way street. When interviewing, Altus encourages candidates to ask them difficult questions. This is because ultimately at the end of the day, despite having a strong candidate in mind, if your company does not have the culture they are looking for or the job is not the direction they are looking to take their career, this will also result in them not being the right fit for your company, and neither of you will be happy or engaged.
As a number of mentors have shared these words with Colin – and as these words have been famously spoken throughout AceTech Ontario – “I’ve made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to”.