Your company culture is only as strong as your team's belief in it, so here's how to hire the right people

Company culture is becoming increasingly important in the millennial market

In my last column for The Drum I talked about how you had to live and breath your company values for them to be effective and meaningful. It’s a real bugbear of mine when chief executives, founders and managing directors blithely ignore the values they proudly place on their walls and websites.

The article picked up pace online and provoked a lot of comment so I thought I would expand on the topic and share with you how we as recruiters work to a values driven recruitment plan.

There are countless surveys that will show you how important company culture is to candidates when looking for a new role. Its increasingly a factor for the millennial market and bear in mind that by 2020, they will be the dominant demographic in the employment market.

An organisation’s culture needs to be both transparent and very importantly must be directly tied to its employment brand. We’ve worked with some great companies who have taken the time to consciously cultivate and proactively manage their culture. This also means that they work hard to turn it into a competitive advantage in the marketplace. As every recruiter both in house and in consultancy will tell you recruiting staff is a competitive process at the moment with the very best candidates being a hugely sought after commodity. So why wouldn't you make your culture part of the package that’s on offer?

Some companies understand this better than others. Have you ever wondered why certain companies make those amazing hires, have a great management team ,are always leading the way in their market sector and generate consistent growth, while others always seem to be reinventing themselves and have a high staff turnover?

That’s because the best companies really understand their culture, where it comes from and how important is to live and breath it from the chief executive to the shop floor. It’s no coincidence that trust in leadership, transparency with employees and a shared vision are prevalent traits in the best companies.

This can be very evident when it comes to recruiting staff. Great companies will give you a detailed breakdown of their values and the sort of behaviours they like to see in the staff. On the other hand, I’m always amazed and frankly disappointed when we take a brief from a company when they don’t talk about their values and how that will help them and us select the right candidate.

We’ve all worked somewhere when the management hired completely the wrong person, someone who caused disruption, division and disaffection with the existing staff. They might have had a great CV and track record at other companies with differing values to yours but couldn't or wouldn't adapt to your way of working.

So to help avoid hiring the wrong person, I’ve come up with this six-stage process we recommend using to ensure hiring the right sort of candidate.

  1. Identification: What values are we looking for? Understand your values and how they work in the team you are recruiting for. Whilst companies work to shared values, the nuances will be different from say the commercial team to the legal team.
  2. Elimination: Take the time to understand what sort of person will definitely not work well in your environment. You should ask the team what they think. The team is the molecular unit where real production happens, where innovative ideas are conceived and tested, and where employees experience most of their work. But it’s also where interpersonal issues, ill-suited skill sets, and unclear group goals can hinder productivity and cause friction. The wrong person can cause chaos. It is also important recruiters need to engage with the senior management team on this point. Past experience is often the best guide to future success.
  3. Dissemination: Make sure every single person involved in the hiring process knows exactly the sort of person you want and especially the values you are recruiting to .This needs to include all hiring and interviewing managers and its very important to involve the recruiters and consultancies you might be using.
  4. Interrogation: Make sure your interview questions reflect the values you are looking for. Work with your recruiter on designing the questions to ensure that you get the right information and give the candidates the best chance to be able to show you that they fit. Many studies suggest that they is to look for behaviours rather than ask the candidate about their values. The fact that company values are often very visible online also increases the likelihood of a candidate telling you what you want to hear. Therefore We advise focusing on getting insights into the candidates behaviours, which may or may not be a reflection of their deeper value set, but give a good idea of how they might behave on the job.
  5. Investigation: Be sure to take references and talk discretely to your network about anybody you are thinking of hiring.
  6. Reflection: Don't hire on the spur of the moment. It is always worth taking time to think through the process. A days extra thought can save months of pain.

Remember your culture and values are only as strong as you and your team's belief in them and your strength in applying them. Stay strong as it will be worth it in the end.

Melina Jacovou is chief executive and co-founder of digital recruitment business Propel

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