Company Culture and Character: Find Candidates Who Create Growth Not Chaos
The world is constantly revolving— cosmically, culturally, and corporately. Heads of departments move on at spinning speeds while new hires take their place. At this rate, how are we as business leaders engaging the next generation who will one day have a seat at the conference table?
Innovations and technologies are important but so are the people behind them; how are we investing into our future by developing those in our present? I believe that our culture, even the culture in our homes, has a great influence on the trajectory of the corporate world.
As my family and I took an evening stroll, we stopped briefly to talk with a neighbor, pulling the kids to the side of the street. Every now and then, our younger one would ease out to spin their pedals and feel the wind. Our peaceful scene was disrupted as a teenager came through on a golf cart, phone in hand, not looking up and not slowing down. Alarmed for everyone’s safety, I got the driver’s attention and asked him to slow down. To which he forcefully replied, “You can't tell me what to do!
All evening I thought of this. As one who cares tremendously for company culture, whose role is to literally build teams, this vehement disregard shook me. Of course this scene is a snapshot of one person's decisions and character, it's not his whole story or the next generation’s. However, it caused me to think deeply as a parent and business leader on what behaviors we are encouraging and modeling to subsequent generations. And as the next generation starts their careers, are companies hiring for and cultivating character?
Hiring For Character
When it comes to hiring, I want to take a look at a few important character attributes that echo our core values at Brand Guarde. We have found that the below are imperative to a thriving corporate culture and indicative of distinguished leaders. Hiring for these traits we have increased employee retention, satisfaction and overall company success.
Respect + Dignity
History and nature have proven that within all successful systems there is a code. Whether it be a natural order or man made, things symbiotically thrive under clear expectations for respect and dignified conduct. If someone can't respect the rules governing a company for the greater good, they will bring harm to other employees and ultimately to the company. As Adam Grant, an organizational Psychologist, mentions in his TED Talk “Are you a giver or a taker?”, it is important to understand the behaviors of takers. Undermining the authority and dignity of others for selfish pursuits is a clear indicator of a “taker.”
Questions for Hiring:
Within our culture interview, we take time to discover a prospective hire’s ethos on dignity. We focus on questions surrounding dreams, motivations, and outlooks on life—ask something like:
“How do you like to use your time?”
“What matters most to you in life?”
Their answers often provide insights into their worldview and value system. Pretty
quickly you can tell if a person is respectful of life and sees others as valuable.
Imagination + Creativity
As Brand Guarde grows our software capabilities, there is a constant need for innovation—and behind all innovation is the imagination.
When building teams you want individuals to spur one another on to greater ideas, to build upon those ideas together and create the previously unimaginable. It’s a continual engagement, it's a form of play, really.
Questions for Hiring:
Getting into their thought processes by asking open ended questions can assist in vetting for high problem solving and critical thinking skills. Try asking:
“Can you share examples illustrating how you have generated ideas that represent thinking outside the box?”
“How were your ideas received by others? What became of the ideas?”
Collaboration + Care
You want people who seek out the good of others. “It’s a dog eat dog world out there” some may say, but really, does it have to be? Not in your company, where you get to create your culture and standards. When asking candidates what effective qualities they value in a leader, a high percentage respond that empathy and the ability to listen are crucial; to work alongside their fellow colleagues. Your team will thank you for hiring people who have these qualities. They are easier to work with and overall your team will be happier for it.
Questions for Hiring:
Try asking this, next time you host an interview:
“What suggestions and ideas have you heard from your peers lately? What was your response to the feedback?”
“Describe a time when you collaborated with a team. How did it go?”
“Tell me about a specific time when those with whom you were working could not agree upon the course of action. How did you approach the situation and what was the outcome?”
Integrity + Discipline
Make sure there is a solid work ethic in those you hire. I know this sounds like an absolute in the hiring process but many bypass this to fill a seat quickly. I promise, you will save time and money by evaluating someone's self discipline and work ethic.
“We keep our promises. Integrity, discipline, and trust form the foundation of who we are. We do what we say we will do even when it is difficult.”
This is a standard to which we all hold one another to regardless of title here at Brand Guarde.
When searching for the right candidate we look at everything: communication, messaging and video intros through LinkedIn as well as our two-part interview process. First is culture fit, an informal get to know you before moving to the second round which is a skills test. Some may think this is backwards yet we have found the opposite to be true. You can always train for a stronger skillset, but you can not change someone's character. To prove the effectiveness of our strategy, within our 5 years of growth we have only lost/let go of 4 employees total.
Questions for Hiring:
Here are some examples of questions we ask when looking for strong work ethics:
“Share with me an example of an important personal goal that you set, and explain what happened next.”
“What projects have you started on your own? Why did you start the projects? What did you learn from doing the projects? What were the results?”
“Name three things you have done in the past two years to grow in your job.”
We have the ability to shape future humanity. And honestly you already are, whether you realize it or not. The question is are you going to be a positive or negative influence. We choose to hire not just for skill and intellect but for character too. Our clients can tell the difference and so does our team. It’s a main reason why clients stay with us and it’s a leading agent to why our team members stick around so long. They sense belonging and care, a challenge to think creatively, and an expectation to take responsibility for themselves and their work.
Cultivating Character at Home
A note to leaders who are growing a culture at home:
As business leaders, mentorship is always a possibility, yet the greatest influence builds consistently over the course of many years. Insert parenthood - it is profound work. We are shaping worldviews, forming characters, and giving room to a growing and critically thinking mind. If we expect great things from the next generation we must set a nurturing and thriving environment.
Establish a family mission statement. What do you want your family to look back on? Hold fast to it. Hang it on the wall. Remember it.
Engage in the play of your children. You are allowed to play, no age cuts that off for you. “Play is the work of a child”, said educator, Maria Montessori.
Encourage the imagination. Not just theirs but let them spark yours.
Expect responsibility and hold them accountable to excellence. Do it with them, not for them. Model well and give space.
Execute together. Work on projects, collaborate on dinner, plan a trip together. Ask and answer critical thinking questions.
And for goodness sake go outside! :)
To quote Einstein once more, "Let us not forget that human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life.". So whether it’s in the office, or in our homes, let us lead humanity to a dignified life through the cultures we build by the people we choose to invest in. What will you pass on to the generations who will one day “run the world”?
Here are some pondering questions to take with you for the day:
What have you found lacking in your company culture?
What has made a positive impact in your company?
How can you influence future generations who will one day run the world?
What do you want to pass down to humanity?