It's All About the People

By Renie Cavallari Sep 16, 2008
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Every organization has a culture, but does that culture maximize the potential of the organization’s people, and as a result, further its business objectives?

Leadership is a key component to integrating a powerful, productive and inspiring culture. Once the leaders are committed to living and supporting the culture every day, it becomes possible for the staff to model that culture and make it come to life.

When hiring, it is essential to identify the kinds of people who will demonstrate values and behaviors that are congruent with the organization. We’ve all heard the saying, “hire for attitude, train for skill.” Yes attitude is important, but it is only one component of a person. Companies must look at potential employees’ beliefs, what they stand for and how they will interact in the “community.” This means organizations must “hire for culture, train for skill.”

Here are a few tips to help ensure companies consider cultural fit when hiring:

1. Look at each piece of the organization’s vision, mission and values statements. These are the cornerstones of fantastic culture; therefore, initial interview questions should hone in on the behaviors necessary to ensure congruence in these areas. For example, if your company works with a lot of intensity, then job applicants should display that natural intensity as well to be considered for hire. Intensity is not trainable; it is a trait or characteristic. They either have it or they don’t.

2. Start with hiring traits. Spend the first 15 minutes of an interview getting to know applicants in their hearts. This time will reveal whether another 15 minutes should be spent with them. Not everyone is right for every organization. A strong leader looks at natural characteristics and traits before proceeding. Knowing that a person can do the job is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s also necessary to know that they will enhance the workplace community and contribute to the joy of the journey.

3. Incongruent culture matches create a loss in productivity. For example, even though one salesperson delivers fabulous results, if the methods he or she uses to succeed have an adverse impact on the rest of the team, this can lead to decreased productivity for everyone else.

4. Stop telling job candidates about the company’s culture up front. Listen to what they have to say about their experiences and beliefs. This insight will reveal whether they are a fit for the organization.

5. If you want people who are passionate about taking care of people, hire onlycaring people. Remember, traits are not skills. You do not teach “caring” to a person. Either they are caring or they are not. This is a component of “hire for attitude, train for skill.”

6. Never hire anyone who shows a lack of responsibility. Once our company was in the interviewing process with a job candidate who was always late and who confirmed things at the last minute. Sure enough, when a job offer was made, he didn’t get back to the company for 48 hours, so we decided to let him go even before he was hired. Of course, we later questioned why we had even gone that far, considering that he had demonstrated on more than one occasion that he was not accountable.

7. Firing people is always more painful and expensive than hiring people. Think that open position is costing the company money? Employee turnover costs even more.

8. Make sure at least three people are involved in the hiring process. Different people will see and hear different things. These different perspectives give a clearer understanding of the person being considered for hire. Know what you are “buying”—for better or for worse.

9. Never rush.

10. Remember that culture is the heart and soul of an organization. When interviewing job candidates, look at them through their heart and soul. People affect people. Make sure new people have a positive effect. If not, then walk away. Better yet, run away.

Culture. It’s more business than you think.

Renie Cavallari is founder and director of inspiration for the Phoenix, Ariz.-based training company Aspire. Adapted with permission from Aspire. © 2008 Aspire. All rights reserved.

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