If you have followed the posts in our Company Culture series, we hope you have realized that an exceptional company culture is not some abstract or academic concept. Rather, it is a living, evolving environment greatly affected by the employees and managers on your team.
It is these individuals who both help create and give substance to the culture you seek. Unfortunately, "good" employees no longer cut it. It's a competitive world out there, and you need rockstars to help your culture rise to the top of the charts. Hiring the wrong people guarantees your culture will flop.
Step 1: Recruiting and Hiring
Early in any organization’s life, the relatively small number of staff makes communications and shared insights a fairly easy endeavor. However, as noted in earlier discussions, success and growth results in the hiring of additional personnel. With those new additions, the whole process of communications becomes geometrically more difficult and challenges the existing culture.
Maintaining strong communications and balance requires you to provocatively take the issues of culture into consideration when recruiting. Today, so many companies are overwhelmed by the growth process and only discover what they have done to their culture by hiring haphazardly after the fact. This is a case where the cure to culture disease is much more challenging than taking preventive steps during the hiring process.
Step 2: Look Beyond the Resume
One of the problems and limitations of a resume is they focus primarily on skills and experiences (plus, they're real easy to fill with BS.) I'll tell anyone who interviews with us, "I don't care about your resume."
Resumes also don’t provide a test of chemistry or personality. Do not underestimate the power of your people getting along. To overcome this shortcoming, here are some ideas companies with great cultures utilize. You can choose from these and others to let your team know you care about who is being allowed to join your family.
- Use personality tests. Modern personality tests are surprisingly effective in identifying a number of individual traits and characteristics in individuals. Test your existing team and look for the common traits they share and those that are absent. You can gain a lot by comparing these results with those of a prospective hire. ROI's employees took personality tests at a workshop this year, and the results were fascinating! They really helped us understand how to communicate and collaborate with one another better.
- Avoid bullies and jerks. It is often pretty clear when an applicant has their own self-interest above any cultural realities. While these individuals may possess valuable skills and experience, the real test is the contribution they will make or the damage they will cause to your organization’s culture.
- Schedule team interviews. One of the most effective methods many companies use is to schedule informal interviews with current team members. This is especially effective when the prospective hire will be working with a small group or team for a period of time. Your people will be very effective in reading the potential of the prospect to fit in well. It's also beneficial to have several team members offer their impressions of candidates, which directly relates to Point #1 and #2. However, I advise to invite your most trusted and objective team members to interviews.
- Be open. You can weed out some bad hires simply by letting them know the culture is more than free beer and open pet policies. Explain what is expected from them as part of the team, not just what your company provides. For example, if someone indicates they’re not interested in participating in the community organization you support, that’s a strong indication of an ill-fit.
- Show you that trust your employees. There are many ways to prove you trust your employees, but one way that is popular with many modern-thinking companies is an open PTO policy. Work-life balance is very important to today's younger workforce — aka millennials. But make sure employees do not take advantage of this gift. At ROI Online, the rule is to always get your shit done before you leave.
Step 3: Don't Forget About Compliance
It’s fine to be exclusive and demanding, but make sure your hiring practices remain fully compliant with all local, state and federal laws. Protect yourself and your company by consulting with a reputable employment attorney or human resources firm in your area.
Think you have what it takes to work for ROI Online? Then what are you waiting for? Apply!
Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2015. It has been updated for freshness and accuracy.