During a meeting with a growing business last week, the CEO said he was sick of dealing with ‘people drama’. He wanted some advice to build a strong culture within his growing teams so he could focus on running the business instead of dealing with HR issues. Sound familiar? This is one of the top business pains we hear, with many of you talking about problems with company culture and hiring, how hard it is to attract A Players (super productive staff members who walk the talk of the business) and how B and C players are dragging your business down.
Company Culture and Hiring
Often the number one thing hindering business growth is ‘people problems’. Not strategy or cash! To tackle this, it’s important to understand that company culture and hiring are intrinsically linked. To attract and keep A Players, not only do you need to advertise the job, but you also need to showcase your company culture.
We spoke to a number of mid-market growth companies and asked them how they hire with company culture in mind.
Cultural Fit Doesn’t Mean Hiring Your Reflection
Firstly, all agreed that it’s the business leader or manager’s responsibility to hire the right people and create a culture in your business where you honestly say you’d enthusiastically re-hire all your staff. But don’t mistake ‘cultural fit’ with ‘I’d be happy to have a drink with this person’. A strong company culture is directly linked to the strength of a company’s core values – and this is where you are looking for alignment. Hiring based on core values encourages diversity, hiring your reflection does not.
Job Advertisements Should Promote Your Core Values
All agree the next step is to get your marketing people involved. They spend their time figuring out how to communicate your company values to your core customer market, so they are in the best position to communicate the core values to the marketplace. If they can communicate your core purpose clearly, that will attract the people you want to hire and who believe in what you believe.
Many businesses are now also using their networks to attract talent. Referrals are an amazing source of unexpected contenders. What better way to find out about someone’s performance and attitude than by hearing about it from a trusted source? LinkedIn is a great asset here to spread the word.
Create a Scorecard
A business tool that many use (and I always recommend) when hiring based on core values, is the scorecard developed by Dr. Geoff Smart. This is an excellent tool and you should never interview without this document. The scorecard states clearly the productivity level, the competencies required and the company core values.
Get Prospects to Respond to your Company Values
Many of my clients often send out their core values to their top prospects. They do this before the first phone interview or face to face interview. They ask their prospects to describe how they live their professional or personal life according to company core values. This is generally done to eliminate prospects right up front, saving everyone’s time. However, every now and then, you’ll find that a good potential employee will answer those questions in a way that gives you a shiver up your spine. Take notice of answers like this. This may be your intuitive recognition of a good or bad fit for your team.
In the face to face interview process, my clients recommend going deep with your questions about behaviours. The trick is to link the competencies with the values and to ask behavioural questions. The STAR system of asking behavioural questions is a great way to help you structure questions around the values and behaviours you are looking for. You want to make sure they align with your culture and your performance expectations.
Include Your Teams
One of my clients has a whole team of A Players…and you can feel it as soon as you enter their office. I describe it as a kind of peaceful, focused, productive joy. The company values are displayed in every room, along with their brand promise for all to see. Everyone is aligned, working toward the same goals.
One tip they gave me was that they would introduce each top candidate to the team by inviting everyone to a morning tea, where each team member would informally interview the applicant over a coffee and a sticky bun. The whole team would be involved in choosing who they would like to work with. This they said, was an important part of hiring the right person. They had on their team value document – plastered on the wall, stated simply, in true Kiwi fashion: “No Dickheads”, letting you know up front that the business did not tolerate drama or politics in their work environment.
This client had four other interesting tips to share:
- Be patient – avoiding a bad hire is worth the wait!
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Bad fits will eventually self-select – they won’t last long.
- Company values first. Skills second.
- Develop a professional development plan for each of your top three candidates with due by dates, that can be included in their contract when you make your choice. You’ll be able to make your decision with another dimension of data to compare.
So, in conclusion, be loud and proud about what you stand for and who you are looking for. Get your whole team and network involved and make sure you are hiring on core values, not merely skills. You can always develop skills, but you can’t train values.
I wish you all the best for developing your company culture and hiring great staff. If you’d like some support to help your business grow, give me a call or sign-up to our eNewsletter for monthly business growth tips, tools, and expert advice, direct to your inbox.