Hiring for culture fit as you grow: Game of Thrones lessons.
By Martha Karimi
For the sake of all GoT fans out there (If you are not a fan, you are probably already fed up with the unfamiliar spoilers and endless chit chats in your office lately): All factors held constant, regarding the script changes, the unlikely surprises and twists and the drama we anticipate that we are not getting, what really does it take to conceptualize and create a show that makes working professionals wake up at 4 am to stream live? Because they just can’t live with the anxiousness of not knowing? Can we take a moment of silence to admire the minds who dream of creating movements that inspire generations across the world? It’s the same spirit we see in groundbreaking movies, politicians, music artists and so on.
And yet sometimes this spirit may not always be replicable or sustainable as a show grows, as an artist evolves, as the interests of the consumers evolve. Why?
Now think about your company, what would it take to build a workplace that staff can call their 2nd home? And actually mean it? A place of shared values, enthusiasm and aspirations? A place where your staff can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow? And how do you make sure that each and every new member of this movement adds value and aligns with the same spirit? And when things evolve you all evolve together?
Hiring for culture as your company grows is probably going to be one of the toughest team battles you’ve encountered yet. Without caution, the temptation to compromise hoping to develop the missing values in the future in exchange for rising business demands slowly becomes your daily choice. And before you know it, everyone is asking; ‘What happened to this place?’’ ‘’We used to love working here back then’’.
So what can you do to ensure every single new hire is a gem to the team?
Build a strong value based recruiting process.
Your culture is defined by the key values that need to be lived every second for business success. Do you know what these are? If not here is a cheat sheet. It’s ok if your list has 20, now narrow it down to the 5 main ones that your business needs to thrive then inculcate this in your hiring process.
Some best practices out there:
- Assess for culture fit/values at application stage!
You can share your values deck at application stage and ask candidates to clearly illustrate how they have lived these values in their past working experiences. We did this once, and believe me or not, some candidates innovated their own values, did not bother to read the deck!
- Run value based interviews.
Here you want to assess how candidates engage with your values. How do they connect these to business outcomes? What personal challenges do they foresee in them living those values? What will hold them back? What about these values spark their curiosity? Listen for depth and breadth in everything. The higher the level of introspection and engagement the closer you are to the right fit.
- Cross check with your background checks.
Does your background checklist of topics include how the candidate has lived certain values? You know what to do. Also, ask for concrete examples!
Your management team breathes and lives your values.
If you can get this right, you are halfway there. As you grow, your managers become your default employer brand ambassadors, thus staying aligned is key.
- Monthly chats revolving around topics such as – how have you been living XYZ value this month? What was challenging about this value? You will be surprised how these conversations can be a foundation for deep team conversations, learning from each other and even evolving and re-defining your values as business evolves.
- Every opportunity matters! Something not going well with the team? What about that could be pointing out to your value system? Use every moment to bring your management team back to the big picture of your values and why they matter for business.
- Mid and annual management team reviews. Spend half a day talking about your company culture, what is changing for good and for worse. Then, iterate!
- Use Reward and Recognition to acknowledge individuals who have demonstrated certain values in the most significant ways.
- Define your management team spirit and brand. How do you want the world out there to speak of your management team? Are your values ingrained in there?
Decentralize hiring – now this is CRUCIAL!
First, it’s necessary. If you are hiring frequently and in high numbers, your HR and managers are obviously overwhelmed, and right there is a significant loophole.
If your whole team including junior staff has already been having enough culture and value conversations, then they are quite accurate on what it takes to thrive in your organization.
How about you consider building an internal hiring team that truly understands your culture? They could be from any department and they fully understand your culture fit criteria. Plug them in as key players and informants in the recruiting process and watch magic happen! In addition, they also get to feel the ownership of growing with you!
Why don’t you block some weekly time in your calendar for culture? Try out some of these tips and let us know how it goes. We want to feature your success story in the next blog. And your failure story as well!
The author is a co-founder and partner at edge which supports innovative entrepreneurs across East Africa in building high-performing teams for business growth through recruitment and designing great workplaces. Visit our website: http://www.edgeperformance.co.ke/