The article The importance of hiring for culture in growth originally appeared in Dialogue Review
For any business – large or small, local or global – growth is a welcome opportunity. However, it comes with its challenges – cash flow, planning ahead and, most critically, resource.
Growing businesses need people. They need existing employees to adopt new, and perhaps more senior, roles. And they need to attract talented individuals who align with the organisational culture and values; and are ready to take the business to the next level.
In our opinion, cultural fit must be the focus of any growth strategy. You can create the most detailed plan – how many people you need, where you will look for talent, prioritising the roles – yet in our experience of growing businesses, the fundamental difference between those who succeed and those who fail, always falls to how well their people live and breathe their culture and values when things are continually changing around them.
‘Hire for culture. Train for skill’
The old adage goes ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’. Whilst this stands true it’s time things changed to reflect the fundamental importance of cultural fit. It goes without saying that if you hire someone who fits your culture then they will have the attitude required to succeed in your business.
Culture and values are the DNA of the organisation. No two businesses have the same cultural make-up and so this provides real, and sustainable, competitive advantage. The companies that know this excel in the success stakes – think Apple, John Lewis and Virgin.
American business consultant, Jim Collins, was once quoted as saying “You absolutely must have the discipline not to hire until you find the right people” and we wholeheartedly agree. When a business is growing it must go far beyond lip service when it comes to ‘living the values’. Everything must be underpinned with your culture as it’s very easy for this to erode; especially when the growth is rapid. And it must start at recruitment.
Here’s our top tips to help you:
- Know what you’re all about – to avoid a mismatch, anyone with recruitment responsibility must be able to articulate and demonstrate what you stand for and what your core values are. If you don’t know, now is the time to invest in defining your culture. Time spent here will be worth the investment as your values become the guiding compass for everyone to follow.
- Feed through your recruitment communications – to recruit people who fit your culture, you must first attract them. Use your values in your recruitment campaigns, on your careers website and throughout the job advertisements / specifications. If you speak your cultural language then those who are fluent in it will respond.
- Ask out right – growing business don’t have time for lengthy interview processes so cut out the to-ing and fro-ing and ask candidates from the off if they “Can fully commit to the values?”. If they can’t, unless there is a very good reason for employing that person, don’t take them on. It’s unusual someone can thrive and survive if they don’t ‘get’ what you’re about.