From the Desk of Paul:

If the headline were “Hiring for Value”, you would probably know exactly what this blog is about…but it’s not and you probably don’t.  Don’t be offended that I would make such an assumption, but my assumption is based on 30 years in the workforce.  My observation is that many companies hire today for value; in other words, they hire for what value the prospective employee might bring to the company.  But what if I said, we’ve gotten it backwards?  What if, as business owners and managers, we hired employees who truly fit our company’s values and as a result the focus is shifted to what value the company can bring to the prospective employee?  Would we see less employee turnover?  Would we see greater productivity?  Would we attract better prospective employees?  See higher revenue?  Make more profit?

The answer to all of those questions is “YES!”  Making such a shift in hiring philosophies would, in most cases, create more destination employers – the companies where everyone wants to work.  Here is a newsflash, your company doesn’t have to be Google or Zappos to be a destination employer!  Before you get too excited, in full disclosure, let me also say, implementing such a strategy seems simple but is much more difficult in practice.  It also takes a significant amount of time to experience the benefits of such a monumental change.

So, what are the basic tenets of “Hiring for Values”?  Well, first, the core values of your company must be identified.  Second, current employees may need to be evaluated to see how they align with each of the core values identified.  Third, the interview process should be tailored to identify core value alignment with each prospective employment candidate.  Finally, continued periodic and regular evaluation must occur to ensure core value alignment is maintained with each employee.  Wow, that was easy!  Now that we have the easy part completed, I can use this space each month to do a deeper dive into each of these four basic principals for “Hiring for Values”, starting with the first one today.

Identifying your core values – where to start?  Sometimes this can feel like an overwhelming task.  And sometimes we may have a tendency to just pick core values that we have seen on posters and websites of many businesses.  You know, things like “Honesty”, “Integrity” and “Customer Service”.  I would warn you to not do that!  If that is your idea of core values, then your company will be no different than those with offices decorated with $49.99 posters with such inspiring words on every wall.  The point is to pick real core values, not marketing slogans and not aspirational values.  If your company regularly works its employees 50-60 hours per week, then Work-Life Balance as a core value may be pretty aspirational!

One method of identifying your company’s true core values that I have found effective is to gather your leadership team and have them identify your top 4-6 employees in the company (excluding members of the leadership team, of course).  Once your team has been able to narrow the list down to the top 4-6 employees, next list out the character traits that your team appreciates most about each of those employees.  The end result will be a long list of character traits, some of which are repeated.  Those that are regularly repeated are the core values that your company truly espouses.  Now that you have an idea of what those values are, all that is left to do is to word those values in a way that will be memorable to your entire staff.  Why?  Because you are going to ask them to live by those core values.  They cannot live by them if they can’t even remember them.  Here is an example.  My team arrived at the conclusion that we really appreciated people who were respectful, kind and caring for others.  Rather than just list those words, we came up with “Act with the Golden Rule in mind” which basically implies that we want to respect and care for others the way we would want them to respect and care for us.

Now you are armed with some practical first steps towards “Hiring for Values”.  Next month, evaluating your current employees for core value alignment.  Time to be honest with ourselves!

Paul Meadows,