If you are an employer, you need to get the right people on the bus and get them sitting in the right seats. Easily said! So how do you achieve this? Internationally, the use of assessing a person’s core values is widely used to drive employment decisions. In New Zealand, we are finally cottoning onto the practice.
What is a Core Value?
Core values are all about people and how they conduct themselves. In any business, it’s essential to have a team where everyone lives effortlessly by your values. Your core values are your essential and enduring beliefs. They are a handful of rules within a business, which are clearly defined, and your team live by regularly. It’s what your people should and shouldn’t do. When an entire team is clear about the core values, it improves the culture within the business, and it’s easier to move the organisation from good to great.
When you hire people that fit, who have the same core values and are aligned to where you are going, a large number of the people issues disappear. When it is clear how someone should act, they have the permission and ability to perform better, which also provides managers more time to manage. When an organisation is in the process of hiring staff, the core values should be visible to applicants.
The questions a business asks right at the start of the interview process should be questions to draw out a person’s core values. Always design your interview questions and assessments to test a candidate’s alignment with your core values. Then rate the person in terms of their perceived alignment with each core value. If an applicant’s values do not align with your business values, stop. They are not going to fit in your organisation and will cost you time and money.
Simply put – the questions about core values are the most vital you should be asking up front. Questions about the candidate’s ability, qualifications and skills come second.
Core values equal good decision-making when hiring
Core values help manage performance expectations of all employees, including new staff that may become acquainted with core values as part of their induction process. Clarify the behaviours that everyone is expected to uphold at work. Provide a framework for decision-making and agreements about how people are expected to interact with each other.
There is the common misconception that if you hire on core values, you will end up with a team of people all alike; and if everyone has the same values, there will be no diversity.
Not true; when thinking about values, think behaviour and decisions. A handful of rules mean autonomy and less management. They put the power in the hands of the employee to make the right decisions. The employer needs to get out of the way and allow the team to get on with business, but this will not happen unless there is confidence each person on the team acts as a good ambassador and makes solid decisions based on your core values.
Lead By Example
Remember, core values are not who you want to be as a business, they are who you are today. And, core values do not add value if the behaviour of those who typically have the most power in a business do not demonstrate them at work.
I often see companies post core values that define who they want to be, but then live quite differently. This will turn off team members and create a gap of credibility between leadership and team members. It is also obvious to clients, suppliers and can create the wrong perception or a distrust of your company, damaging your ability to grow…and potentially your reputation.
For a core value to stand, it must withstand some important criteria and tests. When looking at these tests take your time and really think through this situation in your company.
The three simple tests of a core value:
- Would you fire a team member who consistently or blatantly violated one of your core values?
- Would your company be willing to take a financial hit (lose money) to maintain the integrity of a core value?
- Is this core value alive among your team today? Can you identify the name of a team member that is living out the core values?
Core values should not be kept a secret; they should be visible to employees (and potential employees), customers, partners, etc. Sharing core values internally and externally in a visible way manages the expectations of how work should be conducted and accomplished.
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By Leigh Paulden
As an internationally certified Gazelles Business and Executive growth facilitator Leigh works with businesses serious about growth. As director of Scalable Sustainable Business Growth, he brings proven tools, world-class intellectual property, and time-tested growth concepts to reduce your business pains.