Never stop working on your culture. This is very hard to do when there is other work to be done in leadership. Just look around—every part of your business needs culture work. If you need a way to evaluate this just stand at your office entrance and work backwards. Here is a hint—culture is everywhere. Culture shows up in how you hire, retain, recognize, reward, and even let go of talent! Let’s start at the front door. You need to hire employees to maintain a business. Hiring employees is the perfect place to work on culture! Think about it.
A business and its leaders work very hard to know what skills and experiences are needed for an open position. This is not easy and getting it right takes time. Who has it? Does your job description or profile speak to how someone must behave? What values matter to all of your employees?
A business also works hard to attract quality talent. These are the basics of talent acquisition. Companies hire recruiters internally, outsource to companies like mine, and hire temps. There are many strategies to produce the work that is need to find talent, identify the sources for talent, and to get the work done. However, getting the work done has nothing to do with how your organization presents itself to the marketplace. You know you’re a great place to work and there are unique and extraordinary reasons why someone would want to choose your company over another. If you’re not clear about your culture and your values how can you screen talent and know if they are a fit in your world?
You post on a job board for an opening. Does the posting simply tell about the role or does it culturally sell your company?
During the interview process we ask behavioral questions and leaders screen for technical competence. However, there is a real opportunity to screen for culture. The questions depend on your values (common theme) and how you will frame them. If you’re a small business you probably want to ask questions about working independently or how applicants go about making decisions. If your culture is one of structure and compliance or safety then build your questions accordingly. Companies screen and hire for technical fit, however, our hiring failures often relate to fit on the team or in the work environment! Try hiring someone fiercely independent in a team culture. Good Luck.
Make sure you keep the sofa full. This is a cultural Burkhardism that has been written about and is a whole chapter in books on hiring right! Do you look for talent all of the time? Do you have your next hire sitting on the sofa in your lobby? This is a metaphor of course. Hiring takes time, money, energy, and resources. Committing to these things in a structured, proactive way enables us to hire cultural fits.
When the sofa is not full, we hire fast and we hire wrong. Hiring the wrong person is costly—slow the process down. Consider six or nine months of a person’s salary as the cost of turnover. When we cut corners and just hire to fill a seat we fail and cost the company money!
Finally, consider hiring for culture over technical abilities. This is coming from the Outside-In® Guy who runs an entire company based on values. This could be considered radical and I hope so. Hiring for attitude and behaviors (the real source of culture) is a sure fire way to build talent that fits. Many or most roles can teach the rest.
Need a culture hiring review? Can you afford not to? Can you ever stop working on culture? I say no!