If you don’t believe a good culture is important to your company’s health, it might be time to do a Google News search. It’s hard to argue the importance of company culture when a former em-ployee’s blog post exposé of a sexist culture incites the resignation of its President.
If you’re more of a numbers person, there are plenty of statistics for you, too. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Great Place to Work; the “100 Best Places to Work” experience 50 percent less voluntary turnover than their marketplace peers.
The bottom line is, company culture is a hot topic because talented people want to work for companies who place a priority on employee happiness. And with talent as an increasingly pre-cious resource, CEOs need to be focused on creating and keeping an inviting culture.
What makes a good culture – even more importantly than a foosball table in the break room and skateboarding in the hallways – is a company’s people. Finding good people is why a hiring pro-cess that considers how a candidate will fit into the culture is essential.
Finding out if a candidate is a good fit for your company’s culture goes beyond a resume and interview. The process of determining fit requires a hiring process that delves deeper into the heart of the candidate. What drives and needs do they have, at what types of jobs will they likely excel, and how is best to manage and communicate with them?
Teri Kinsella, a Senior Consultant with our Predictive Index consulting company, PI Midlantic, shared an anecdote with me to illustrate this. Names have been changed.
At a technology consulting firm in New England, a bad hire was single-handedly changing the culture for the worse. We’ll call him John and say his title was VP of Service Delivery to the cli-ents.
John was a friend of the CEO, who had only seen John’s best side. John’s resume and inter-view further showed that he was a brilliant technologist. John was hired as a top executive. When he got comfortable in his role, however, it turned out John was condescending to the peo-ple he worked with and managed. He threw people under the bus at every opportunity and point-ed out people’s mistakes in a way that was meant to be destructive to their reputations. He would make promises to coworkers to get something done and never follow through.
The CEO would receive telling complaints about John from the rest of the staff, but never could bring himself to do anything. John was his friend, he was doing good work and the clients liked him.
Unfortunately, the CEO’s lack of action was interpreted by the staff as condoning his behavior. The CEO sent an unintentional message that John was more important than other employees. Bad behavior was tolerated from some people but not from others. The previously positive com-pany culture changed for the negative as people became protective and secretive about their work. Over the next two years, four other top executives quit because of John.
John was finally let go once the CEO agonized for years over the decision as he realized being able to do the work was only part of the formula for a good employee. Communication and man-agement style and drives and needs are integral parts of the equation.
The technology consulting firm from New England could have avoided hiring a bad fit if they had included another step in their hiring process: a behavioral assessment. A behavioral assessment is a short survey that can be given to job candidates online. The assessment is simple to com-plete but provides a robust prediction of how that candidate will behave on the job. Not only does a thorough hiring process help avoid bad fits, it can find good fits that can turn the company cul-ture around for the better.
Teri Kinsella, shares a second anecdote. Names have been changed.
Joan was hired as the Chief HR Officer of a law firm after a hiring process that included a be-havioral assessment. Her resumé showed she had high education and all the right experience. Her assessment showed that she wasn’t always the most people oriented, a possible show stopper for the head of HR. However, her assessment results also showed that she was likely to generally manage in an enthusiastic and warm way.
Once Joan took the position, she proved to be a perfect balance of stern yet nurturing. She was liked and respected by employees for her hard work, transparency, and fairness. Joan seemed to always have the best interest of the organization in mind. Joan quickly earned the trust of the CEO who would back her up when she brought actions to his attention that seemed out of line with the values of the firm. She would come down hard on employees who did something they shouldn’t, and at the same time she would speak truth to power. If a partner wasn’t treating a le-gal secretary well, she wouldn’t hesitate to point it out to the partner.
Joan also did an amazing job on her own work and she held everyone around her to the same high standards to which she held herself. In response, the people around her rose to the chal-lenge because they didn’t want to disappoint her.
Law firms have a reputation for not being friendly to working mothers. Joan had observed, how-ever, that women made up a large portion of the talent at their firm. She did whatever needed to keep them on staff. Joan championed policies for working mothers like subsidized childcare, pumping rooms for new mothers, and a dry-cleaning service that picked up from the office. With Joan as Chief HR Officer, the law firm earned a place on the list of best places to work in every city where they opened a new office.
While good company culture is essential in attracting and keeping top talent, it’s important to re-member that people are the most important part of making a good culture. One hire can change the dynamics of the company either for the bad or for the good. That’s why your hiring process needs to include a measurement of what drives the candidate. What drives the candidate will predict how they act on the job.