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Your hiring strategy sorted...Find hybrid talent who demonstrate compassion to enable teams to work

Recruiters have a major role to play in assessing talent for the future development within a business. In the latest issue of The Brief Magazine we spoke with HR superstar and Founder of The Karuna Collective, Peta Karunaratne about strategy and hiring the best talent to facilitate your business goals.

The pursuit of a meaningful culture where there is a true sense of belonging can be difficult to find. Clever marketing, carefully shaped employer branding, solid ratings on job listing sites, they all suggest the nature of a business, but in reality, finding a company where someone can truly thrive can be an arduous task for prospective employees.

Meet the change catalyst transforming business.

Peta Karunaratne is a coach, consultant and strategic facilitator who has successfully delivered transformation projects for organisations in Australia, the UK, North America and New Zealand, and for clients including Morgans, Silver Chef, Suncorp, Optus, Thesis and AMEC Foster Wheeler.

The Brisbane-based human resources superstar has lived abroad in London, and interstate in Sydney, and her portfolio of work has seen her heralded for her disruptive work with awards including, ‘Best for the World for Workers’, (B Corporation Awards, 2018 and 2019), and was a finalist in CEO Magazine’s HR Director of the Year awards (2019).

It could be said that Peta’s success in blowing up archaic 1980s HR perspectives through her company, The Karuna Collective, was born from compassion (or Karuna) – a trait she lives and breathes in both her personal and professional life.

“I believe in compassion through action. Compassionate leaders need to understand the sacrifices people make in giving organisations eight plus hours of their day,” Peta said.

“Sharing those hours with your employees is a privilege… and it is this mindset that is fundamental to creating better businesses; if you use your time together to develop your people to be bigger and better humans, when they go home to their families and communities, they are capable of making a greater positive impact in the world.

“I remember being a little girl and watching my mum go to work each day, only to see her come home at the end of the day bruised and battered by the politics and policies of her employers.

“Those days had a profound effect on my thinking and made me realise that the best work environments were in service of the people who chose to leave their homes each day. It shouldn’t be on the households to repair the impact the workplace has inflicted, they should be the benefactors of the time they have given to their employers.

“If you can find ways to continuously develop people throughout their working day, they can handle greater challenges, be more expansive in their thinking and be more innovative. If you choose to be intentional around creating those environments your people will achieve exponential growth within themselves, and for the organisation.”

Peta said there was a common argument between CEO and CFO mindsets where a CFO would argue the expense in training and development, and CEO would say it was an investment.

“Usually only standard metrics around productivity are applied in scoping these costs, but in reality, they do not reflect the value or opportunity of a great hire,” she said.

“If you hire well, you will see exponential growth in the person and the people around them; they need to be someone interested in growth.

“There aren’t many solo operators in today’s organisations who don’t impact the work of others.

“When recruiting, the greatest positive impact is achieved when complementary skills are chosen that work within the context of the team.

“Individuals who demonstrate an interest in growing with others can increase the level of productivity, effectiveness and engagement of their team…there is no financial figure that can adequately represent that level of value.”

Peta is passionate about unearthing these compassionate and strategic thinkers – usually ‘hybrids’, and said several key values needed to be observed in choosing the best-fitting candidate.

“For businesses to be able to move away from transactional ways of working and towards stronger strategic pathways, they need to invest time in developing the collective leadership capabilities of the executive team – this is where the real transformation happens,” she said.

“When the whole executive team is aligned on direction and has deep appreciation for the complexities they must navigate together, they are more inclined to lead as a collective as they understand the collective strengths and capabilities of the team, and that no individual is capable of achieving success on their own.”

Peta adopts this belief system when advising her national network and among them, the country’s largest full-service stockbroking and wealth management firm, Morgans, where she plays an instrumental role in driving its new people strategy.

Peta said her success was owing to her ‘genius zone’ which translated strategy into transformative programs that enabled people, teams, leaders and organisations to thrive and realise new, and more effective ways of working together in delivering commercial outcomes and positive impact in the lives of the people they serve.

“Morgans is a home-grown success story, and I was immediately attracted to their values and purpose which is centred on connecting people to enrich and grow Australia. I wanted to support them in achieving that,” she said.

“Morgans identified the intrinsic need to continue building on their people-focussed culture and needed to make some key appointments with people who shared those values and presented the types of professional and personal diversity that could influence across all levels of the business.

“Their interests also needed to be of a hybrid nature – stretching beyond the typical scope of HR or ER and into different arms of the business in serving the greater strategic direction.

“We needed people with a clear set of interests. They needed to be robust about commercials and be able to bring a challenging voice around talent (and especially hybrid talent), and to be completely immersed in the business culture, strategy and organisation design.”

Peta said they were the key things she needed, and a recruiter should look for when vetting talent.

“I appreciate recruiters who don’t take a linear approach to talent progression but rather, demonstrate how a hybrid’s unique skills and personal attributes could expand out into supporting teams,” she said.

“A great recruiter to me understands the business strategy and its org structure and can visualise where hybrid talent can elevate teams and growth opportunities for them to break into more technical areas of expertise including marketing, HR, IT and innovation.”

Peta said linear thinking among some recruiters often meant missed opportunities or a wrong hire which meant significant cost to the business.

“The recruiter mindset of seeing people as a resource for sale, drives me to distraction. I know recruitment is sales-based but it’s a huge responsibility in the lives of the person being appointed,” she said.

“The cost of recruiting a bad hire can be devastating to the individual, to their team, the hiring manager and to the business strategy being enacted.

“When a new hire doesn’t fit, their confidence erodes, in it can significantly affect their mental health, and this has a flow-on effect in the recruiter/client relationship too.

“Some leaders choose not to recruit following a poor hire due to the large time expenditure and the worry of getting it wrong again, so often opt for an internal hire which isn’t always the right answer.”

Peta said recruiters had a huge role to play in assessing talent for future development within a business, and in proving that understanding, could open further recruitment opportunities down the road in supplementing the promoted positions for their successors.

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