Why trust is the most important investment in hiring
The story of a Nordic IT giant that’s building a passionate and resilient team fueled by mutual trust
Tieto utilizes the abundance of opportunities from the data-driven world to enhance value for business by creating IT tools and services that simplify everyday life for millions. Building on a strong Nordic heritage and headquartered in Espoo, Finland, Tieto employs over 13,000 experts in around 20 countries.
We spoke to Gert Port from Tieto’s Tallinn office about trust-based hiring and inspiring people to apply their passion to moving a company forward.
Finding the passion and learning to trust
Having grown quickly in the past few years, around 60% of Gert’s 180-person service department is made up of people from outside of Estonia. Hailing mostly from Nordic countries, the majority of people have been hired for their local knowledge of the company’s client countries. But not only that — as it so often is in the hiring word today, one of the biggest keywords at Tieto is passion.
Wherever they’re from and whether they’re 19 or 60 (team Tieto has both and everything in between), the main idea is — quite simply — to find good people eager to take on new challenges. “The work itself is very demanding,” says Gert. “But everything is learnable. We are not looking for certificates or diplomas.” Instead, what Tieto looks for is a person’s passion and a desire to do something with their life.
But what qualifies as passion and how do you rate it? “It’s difficult to explain,” Gert concedes. “But we’re looking for signals of passion and then we try to check with different questions whether it is actually there. Some people are a little bit closed off and it takes a little longer to find out what they might like and be ready to do.”
The reasoning behind Tieto’s endless quest for passion is fairly straightforward: a passionate person is eager to learn and adapt. “Our line of work doesn’t require years-long university training,” says Gert. What it does require in spades is adaptability to new situations and stress. Gert provides an example: “Something might have been explained in a particular way at school, but now the client wants or says something different. How do you adapt?” In the face of practical issues like that, openness and readiness to learn are vital.
If there’s another big lesson Tieto has learned from their years of international hiring, it’s the importance of trust. “Our experience shows that you have to trust people,” says Gert. Not meeting a potential hire before deciding to bring them on board doesn’t have to be a problem. In Tieto’s experience, people willing to move countries usually also take their careers seriously, and investing trust into these relationships has paid off over the years.
It doesn’t take much to start letting go of trust issues, according to Gert. “Take the risk with one person and start developing that trust,” he recommends.
Feeding the fires to keep the talent around
Along the same lines — in the spirit of fostering mutual trust — Tieto is a firm believer in making sure their fresh hires don’t feel alone in a strange city. The journey starts with mundane things like helping them find a place to live, picking them up from the airport, and showing them where the banks and police stations are. “It’s been a completely justified expense for the company,” says Gert.
Being supportive in every possible way is a worthwhile commitment to make in terms of talent retention. “Recently, one of our talented Finnish employees had his landlord tell him at the very last minute that he couldn’t move in after all,” recounts Gert. “He really didn’t have anywhere to go, so he was already contemplating just going back to Finland. Instead of risking losing that talent, we were able to, through another partner, quickly find him a place to stay.”
The trust-building, of course, continues in the office itself. “We used to have managers in a separate room,” says Gert. “But now managers sit with teams to foster team-building. We also have a lot of activities such as board game nights and paintball. These are little things, but they signal that joking around is allowed — that increases trust.”
According to Gert, people leave organizations when they discover the road they’re on leads nowhere. “It’s important to realize what that imagined road is for people.” Whether they want to leave their home country and start anew, develop new habits, or collect different skills moving from workplace to workplace, people’s motivations for relocating vary hugely. “Sometimes we get people who have done great things but now want to invest their talent into something new.” When an organization’s goals line up with an individual’s, that’s when the magic happens. “From our side, we have really tried to understand what matters to a person,” says Gert.
“What gets them going? What feeds the fire in this person?”
To make sure people feel fulfilled in their lives, Tieto creates interest-based groups, and sends employees to different kinds of training — even on subjects that might not be directly relevant to their day job. “Sometimes people are a little worried,” says Gert. “A team member might say, ‘This topic really interests me, but I’m not sure whether I can go.’ Let’s say someone might want to get a Java certification, but no-one on the team uses Java. If this is someone’s dream, we would support it.”
Tieto is looking for a product manager to join them in Tallinn. If you are looking for exceptional challenges at a company that goes the extra mile to create a culture of trust, take the plunge!