Hire based on value fit

If you’ve had an opportunity to engage in a discussion about culture with me then you know what this month’s blog is about.  The word CULTURE as it relates to a company may be one of the most misunderstood words.  It’s a big squishy word with as many meanings as the word Aloha.  Culture, in its defined form, takes generations to cultivate.  It’s not a statement that you put on your website and then automagically everyone agrees with, stands behind and practices.

This is especially important for entrepreneurs to understand because startups don’t have history and haven’t been around long enough to “cultivate.” So, when we meet with a new client we ask the founders to describe the personality of their company.  Personality is an easier word to digest.  Companies, teams and departments all have unique personalities.  That’s where we start to gain insight for growing the team.

If hiring for culture fit doesn’t work then how to you assess character and competence?  Hire for value alignment!

  1. What are the values that guide you? – As a founder, you have beliefs that are central to your being. What are they?  This is a great place to start.  Hiring people who align with your values is important in the early days of company evolution.
  2. Identifying company values - As you emerge and mature organizationally the company values will likely be an extension of the founder’s values. Values are not personality traits or work styles.  Values are the essential beliefs that guide you and everyone else on your team.  For instance, if one of your company values is “winning is everything,” then hiring someone who values “making a positive impact on society,” might result in a misalignment of strategy or objectives.
  3. Build values into your brand - Assuming that you live and breathe your values as an organization, then they also become part of your employment brand. As a result, you will attract candidates who align with your values and hopefully repel candidates whose beliefs are in conflict with yours. 
  4. Incorporate values into your selection process – You already interview for personality fit and technical competency. Expand your evaluation to include values alignment.  By asking situational or behavioral questions that draw out values, your new team members will be in sync with the rest of your group. 
  5. Don’t excuse lack of values alignment for anyone – Sales and engineering are two of the hardest positions to hire in this competitive market. Founders tend to lighten the “requirements” for these functions.  By letting even one misaligned person into your organization, you risk breaking then entire group.  This is especially true for startups – every individual has a significant impact on the team. 

Shifting your thinking away from “culture” and toward values isn’t difficult, but it does need to be intentional.  For more information on hiring for values visit us here!

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