BY Ryan Smith
It’s the question that every company seems to be asking: How do you find and keep top talent?
One of the biggest mistakes made by growing companies is rushing to hire someone without making certain that he or she is the right cultural fit. The next mistake is not taking the time to engage and develop employees once they’re on board.
By cultural fit, I don’t mean a candidate’s sense of humor or sparkling personality. I’m talking about whether or not this individual understands your organization’s values and practices them on a daily basis. And most important, do they have the potential to enhance the trajectory of co-workers and the business alike?
Ready, set, row. Imagine a team of out-of-sync rowers. The moment the race starts they’ll already be lagging behind the competition. If a team doesn’t quickly address errors, then success becomes more and more elusive as the boat falls further and further behind.
It’s the same in business. If you have team members who don’t truly believe in your company’s vision and principles, then your organization will suffer. It’s that simple.
At Qualtrics, we have an offer-review team, made up of department leaders in many departments, to help ensure that every person hired is aligned with our core values. Some of these principles involve deeply rooted morals, such as having integrity and being trustworthy. Others are more specific, such as being able to dive deeply into complex issues without losing sight of the bigger picture. Then there’s probably the most important characteristic: being customer obsessed.
The group’s sole purpose is to evaluate feedback about job candidates that is captured by each interviewer. Based on this, we decide whether to make an offer or take a pass. All team members evaluate candidates through the same lens and only send the best candidates to the hiring committee. At first, a third of the candidates didn’t make the cut. Today, due to a broader understanding of the leadership attributes that we consider important, less than 10 percent are rejected.
Continuing to set the right course. Having a person measure up to a company’s core principles doesn’t stop at the hiring phase. It should continue throughout their employment. To reinforce these leadership traits, we rely on employee training initiatives, one-on-one and frequent feedback from managers, mentorships, employee-engagement surveys and 360-degree employee assessments.
This allows us to identify strengths and weaknesses at the individual, team and company level, and lets us make strategic decisions based on the data that we uncover. By doing this, we can determine when someone is starting to drift away from our core tenets and use this insight to re-engage and work with the employee to grow in areas in need of development. It also allows us to recognize employees in areas where they have excelled.
For organizations seeking to follow a similar path, here are four key steps to ensure that members of your team are aligned:
1. Define your principles and values. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t recognize it when you see it. Make sure that everyone you bring on can adopt your corporate values and is someone you want to be in the trenches with.
2. Commit to a culture of growth. Your company culture should evolve as the team grows. If committed to this type of change, your organization will only grow stronger.
3. Be transparent. Organizations that thrive are the ones that communicate. Whether you’re hiring or conducting employee reviews, clear communication is key to ensuring that each team member is set on his or her path to success and also has clarity about the actions needed to improve as well as areas where he or she is already hitting the mark.
4. Measuring and tracking employee feedback. High levels of employee engagement can lead to greater productivity, revenue and customer satisfaction. Trust me, you want to know who is engaged and who isn’t. So regularly survey your employees so that you can quickly see pockets of high or low engagement and discover what’s driving them. This activity tells managers the levers they need to pull to create a stronger, more engaged workforce.
As a company grows, it’s imperative that its core ethos evolves with it and smart organizations understand that their workers can be an asset or a huge liability. Companies struggling in this area need to take the time to establish a set of clear company-wide principles and evaluate current and prospective employees against them. It’s then important to reinforce these tenets through frequent, consistent and thoughtful performance feedback initiatives.
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