In the last post, we discussed what it means for an organization to ‘value people’. When recruiting for an organization, hiring for cultural fit is arguably the most important factor. Obviously skill vies strongly for number one, but if you’ve ever had a technically brilliant person in a wrong cultural fit, you may argue for culture (I do). If your candidates are truly great, they have options for employment and I will guarantee that they are hearing from every organization a version of “People are our number one resource,” “We value our people” and “We work hard and have fun”. Everyone says that.
Recruiting is a lot like dating. For example, suppose your idea of a perfect life is living in a secluded log cabin in the mountains, hiking and reading thought-provoking books alone with your spouse. You get online and start sifting through matches. You find someone who meets many of your requirements in a perfect spouse. Same career aspirations, income level, geographic location, attractive, and sense of humor. Sounds good, right? Then you read that their ideal life is jet setting between New York and Paris attending gala events and social soirees. Here is a quick multiple choice quiz: This match is likely to a) develop into a satisfying long term relationship because both people will change and meet in the middle and have the best life ever or b) develop into a swirling vortex of bitterness and resentment where you can’t possibly imagine hating someone as much as this person? In case you are in any doubt, the answer is likely b. Yes there are exceptions but the reality is YOU probably will not be that exception. You are only wasting your time and their time even pursuing this match. This is not to say they are not a great person, just not great for you. The same is true for recruiting. Never hide who you are to get what you think is a great candidate. A great candidate in the wrong culture is just an acrimonious termination waiting to happen.
Even if you’re a small employer, it’s important to define your ‘brand’ and to articulate your culture. Don’t worry if, when you do this, you become aware of some disconnects. At this stage the important thing is to define your culture so that you can attract the people who fit that culture. Next, and in subsequent posts, we can review what to do if your practices are out of sync with your desired culture. There are benefits to every culture and there is a perfect candidate who will find your culture engaging and stimulating (unless you have a toxic culture. If you have a toxic culture, keep on the lookout for subsequent posts).
For example, small companies are appealing because candidates can have a direct impact there. People who like to effect change and thrive on developing systems and who don’t mind (or like) lack of structure look for small companies. Large, established companies attract people confident in their ability who appreciate the opportunity to improve their skills. People who don’t mind (or like) established structures are more comfortable in large companies.
Hopefully, you believe that you value your employees. What does this mean to you? Do you pay above market level? If not, that’s okay. Do you encourage open exchanges of ideas and allow people to try new things? Do you have office events? There’s probably something you do that you think is different or better than other companies. Can people bring their pets to work? Do you let them work from home occasionally? Will you support their further education? Do you offer the chance to advance from within the company? There are literally hundreds of things a company can do that values employees. Define this and your recruiting just got much more effective. Now, when you are recruiting, you can give a very factual account of the environment and you can also ask the right question to determine whether the candidate will thrive in this environment or not. This is a critical foundation to building a great company, vs importing headaches.
Next, time, Part 3: Cultural Disconnects