Stop hiring for culture fit

  • Puzzles pieces symbolizes company culture fit

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 the 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!

About the Author:

Kimberly Lucas is the Founder and Chief People Connector at Goldstone Partners, Inc., a Colorado-based search and talent advisory firm specializing in recruitment strategy and engaged search for privately-held companies. As a seasoned entrepreneur and career coach, Kimberly is committed to helping founders build strong, profitable companies that stand the test of time. As a Certified StrengthsFinder coach she works with individuals and teams to help them achieve their stated objectives. Kimberly is an active mentor for MBA students at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, serves on the board of the Rockies Venture Club, is a founding member of RVC Women and facilitates a Thinking Partner Mastermind group.

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