How To Attract Great People and Hire for Culture Fit
Changing the rules of how you hire? Good for you. It’s the name of the game in the next 10 years. Freelance status is exploding, average job tenure for Millennials is 2.6 years, and organizational culture is the difference between whether or not you can attract and retain talented and engaged employees in such a way so as to beat out your competition. But knowing that organizational culture is important is not enough. Leaders need practical tools to hire for culture fit while at the same time attracting, wooing, and keeping great employees who have increased expectations of mobile, flexible and virtual work options.
Companies need creative ways to meet and develop ongoing relationships with the talent they need. Inflexible, old school hiring practices will be the kiss of death for any business in the next decade. In part an outcome of low unemployment, in-demand skills will increasingly require employers to sell their culture. This is not just about attracting the best talent available, but also about securing the right talent for your team or company.
Modern hiring practices must show innovation and courage. Keeping great people starts with how you approach hiring. The highest performing teams and companies got this way by placing great focus on intentionally attracting, selecting, and retaining people with shared values and diverse skills.
Do You Know Why Great Candidates Do or Don’t Choose to Join Your Company?
In this short “How To” video, culture consultant and keynote speaker Lisa Jackson shares 4 ways you can up the odds of landing the best employees.
Did you know that more than one-third of workers surveyed reported that they would pass on the perfect job if the company’s corporate culture wasn’t a good fit? Why is this problematic?
For one, a majority of workers across North America report that their ideal corporate culture is supportive and team-oriented. Yet, the same study found that most organizations are practicing the opposite. The predominant culture in today’s corporate world is still traditional taking the forms of hierarchy, bureaucracy, and a lack of true collaboration across the business. Does this sound like the culture at your company or has your organization been taking forward-thinking steps to create a polarizing culture that gets people excited about working for your business?
Second, a McKinsey study conducted a couple of years back showed that the number one concern of CEOs across the world is building the workplace of the future. Despite this, less than 40% of organizations are actually doing the work necessary to change and modernize their corporate cultures. Do bureaucracy and hierarchy sound like the culture at your company or has your organization been taking the forward-thinking steps necessary to create a polarizing culture which gets people excited about working for your business?
Here are 4 ways that you as an organization can improve upon the connectivity between the people that you hire and their sense of good fit with your culture.
#1 Hire For The Tribe
Hiring for the tribe is not about a cookie cutter talent strategy, but rather about understanding that like attracts like. In fact, the number 1 reason that people cite for why they stay with a company or in a job is that they like the people they work with. This finding comes through across multiple studies as well as in my own experience over two decades of doing this work. This should not be surprising. The majority of people spend huge chunks of their lives in the presence of coworkers. It goes to reason that everyone values enjoying the time they spend with their teams rather than hating it. So, as you seek to create more skill diversity within your workforce, don’t lose focus of the “tribal element.” Hire people who share similar core values to both your organization and their peers, so that they can easily fit into the larger group while themselves experiencing a sense of belonging and camaraderie with your business.
#2 Know What You Stand For
If you can’t articulate your corporate culture to someone in three words or a short sentence why should any employee want to marry themselves to your company?
Jeff Bezos famously said that the culture at Amazon “is fun and intense and if push came to shove I’d choose intense.” That is clearly articulated, you know what you’re in for when you work for Amazon.
Can you do that for your company? Do you have the 2 or 3 words that really articulate your culture? Does the CEO know how to tell people in one sentence that this is the type of culture you’re going to be working in here and is this the type of culture that your ideal employees will thrive in?
#3 Two-Way Street
The two-way street is really important and many of you are already doing this. Many, however, are not. The team they’re joining deserves every new hire to be a “great fit.” Because a new team member is going to be disruptive to the flow of the team no matter how wonderful and welcome, it’s imperative that the hiring process includes some “naturalization” time during which the team experiences a casual conversation or meal together as opposed to formal interviews. The mesh factor happens when you take the pressure off and allow people the chance to get to know each other under regular circumstances. This does not mean that the hiring manager does not have the final say, but rather that the hiring process is an inclusive one which both respects and takes into account the opinions of all stakeholders. Hiring for culture fit means testing the individual you think will fit outside of the formal interviewing environment.
Give prospective new hires a preview of the mission should they choose to accept it. Create a sneak peek of what it’s going to be like to work with the team they are joining, and let it be a window to the big reason that you’re all together is. It’s important that both potential and existing employees have a clear sense of the “why” behind what they are doing. What is the big ultimate goal that the team is striving to accomplish and what makes it interesting or exciting for the stakeholders? To garner interest in your company and its culture, give your new hire something tangible that they can sink their teeth into.
Modern Hiring Practices Must Show Innovation and Courage
Does your organization have systems for effective remote work? Do you offer flexible schedules or allow job-sharing? Are you able to create freelance assignments during life stages that require it? Are you fostering an alumni network for those great people who might return or refer? Do you choose people for culture fit and then follow through by providing the cultural experiences you sold them on?
We are entering a Seller’s Market for good talent and the Tribal Era of workplace connectivity. The people you want to work for your company rightfully believe that they have greater choice and more options now than ever before. If they don’t like their job or your company and are unable to find meaning in their work, they will simply quit. People of all ages want both their work and their workplaces and to be purpose-driven, inspiring, challenging, and full of great people. Don’t we all deserve this?
Consider These Facts
- By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. They will have zero interest in working within traditional corporate cultures, preferring to start their own company or freelance.
- By 2020, 50% of workers will consider themselves freelancers.
- In Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital report, the most important challenge reported by executives was “creating the organization of the future.”
Hiring practices are where building a culture and subsequently, the organization of the future begins. Hiring strategy must, therefore, focus on identifying people who will rally around your mission, values, and corporate culture. It must then follow through by shaping work arrangements to keep employees connected to and motivated by your organization.
It’s Time To Courageously Innovate Hiring Practices
Here are 5 courageously innovative hiring practices to help your organization move past the outdated mindset of “you’d be lucky to work here” and towards the modern mindset of “we’d be lucky to have each other.”
Innovative Hiring Practice #1: Truth In Hiring
Truth in hiring is similar to the truth in dating. We all want to know what we’re getting ourselves into and how well we can fit into the larger picture. As in dating, if you want a good match, people need to get a real experience of the good, the bad and the ugly in your culture and the organization as a whole. No matter how desperate you are for that superhero developer or project manager, it’s important to buckle down and get real. You will gain infinitely more in long-term performance from someone who can and wants to fit into the full reality of your organization, versus “filling a seat” on false pretenses and seeing that seat empty in a few months. Building trust is the foundation of a successful working relationship and you do this by articulating both the downsides and the upsides of working in your particular business environment. Go beyond “we work hard” generalities, and get into some of the real stuff, like “we are still working on improving our meetings” or “there are long hours when we’re on deadline, and we all have to tackle these as a team.”
Innovative Hiring Practice #2: Tap Your Customers
If you have a non-negotiable deadline or a huge project that key customers rely on, consider reaching out to form a collaborative partnership between your organization and the customer’s organization, one with clear boundaries, goals, and timelines. This is a creative and effective strategy if you need the talent to deliver an end result to an important customer, if you’ve tried and failed to find the right person, or if your organization is committed to a no consultants policy.
Innovative Hiring Practice #3: Woo Versus Overwhelm
The trend towards multi-stage, team-based hiring practices can be overwhelming for applicants, especially if they’re interviewing with more than one company. Stand out from your competitors by assuring that each stage of your organization’s hiring process is fun, engaging, and interesting for the applicant. Consider how you can attract and build real connections with the right people. Make the process more personal by inviting the CEO or top leader of the division or office to come and shake the applicant’s hand, ask them if they have any questions, and explain in those 2 to 3 words the organization’s culture. Consider putting together a fun teamwork challenge for your final 2 or 3 candidates. Order a nice lunch, invite the whole team, and create engagement around brainstorming an interesting problem. Watch for culture fit and observe which applicant best gels with the whole of the team. Above all, be sure to communicate clearly, provide a memorable experience and build mutual appreciation.
Innovative Hiring Practice #4: Look For Talent In Unusual People
We all know “looking for talent in unusual places” is an accepted recruiter strategy. Too often, however, our hiring radar is tuned to ruling people out versus determining whether they might be a great culture fit, and thus worth training. It is well-accepted that values, attitude and emotional intelligence go further toward success than skills, yet the predominant mindset is still hiring based on resume. Consider every interaction with every person you meet, an opportunity to assess whether their values match your company’s mission. You never know when and where you’ll meet your next team member. It is likely to be when and where you least expect it – or aren’t even looking.
In an interview with SendGrid’s Chief People Officer Pattie Money, she described multiple ways in which their recruiters and managers are trained to look outside of the box for the talent they would not normally hire. In fact, she reports once hiring a waiter from a restaurant based on his person-ability. He ended up being a star employee in tech recruiting.
Great people are everywhere. Start looking for your tribe, not the perfect resume.
Innovative Hiring Practice #5: Transform Corporate Culture Relics
In a recent series of interviews for an upcoming project, 100% of millennials interviewed reported not wanting “to work in corporate.” They described “corporate” as the following:
- Rigid hierarchies
- Good ideas are valued less than the power structure
- Leaders with closed minds punish risk or failure
- Politics consumers more time than doing valuable work
- People “making decisions” are disconnected from the people “doing the work
- Cube farms, dead energy, 2-week old cake
- You can’t do that because…
Do these sentiments sound familiar? Can you relate?
You can’t eradicate dinosaur corporate culture practices in one fell swoop! But you can show that you’re making an effort to care about people. Showing alive energy of people who share a common mission and values, to candidates is far more important than the games and beer taps.
Consider these freshening-up Culture First Impression tips:
- Update the work environment so that it has a fresh, modern feeling. Minimally provide collaborative workspaces and good snacks.
- Deal directly and compassionately with bad leaders in people-and-innovation centered roles. They are bleeding workplace energy and profits at the expense of your employees.
- Have regular fun-at-work events to mingle multi-generations in meaningful activities and break down stereotypes and barriers to make cooperation and collaboration more natural.
- Shift to small-step promotions to reward and recognize high performance. Don’t require people to wait a year or several years to have a review or move forward.
What Hiring Practices Are Working For You?
Have you had positive experiences with hiring for culture fit and retaining great employees? We would love to hear from you!