Capitalist Note: This post is part of a series on Building/Reinforcing Company Culture Through Great Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Practices.
Let's face it people, "company culture" is a loaded phrase. Some of it is real, some of it is aspirational, but one thing on my mind recently is that as we try to build the culture we want at our companies, we forget about the messages we send in our recruiting process.
So you're proud of your culture - cool! Let's dig in and see if you're reinforcing that culture in all the gritty details of your talent acquisition/recruiting process. Remember - if your TA/Recruiting process doesn't match and promote your culture, you're not going to get the fit/matches you need in the candidate marketplace.
Do you have a mission statement or company values? (which we'll combine and simply call "values" or "company values" from here on out)
More importantly, do you have values that can actually be a net positive in your recruiting process? With the job market hotter than ever, lame values won't cut it - candidates can smell phony or inactive company values that aren't real a mile away.
Why have candidates become so adept at calling bullshit on our aspirational value statements? It's because so many companies claim items like "integrity" and "communication" to be part of their value structure. Those are great values to have (and the need for them is real), but when everyone is claiming the same broad set of values, it's hard to stand out.
So how do you create company values that reinforce the culture you have and make candidates view you as an employer of choice? Here's 4 keys from our experience with our many recruiting clients at Kinetix:
1--Make sure your company values invoke a sense of broader purpose and reflect the current challenges/mission you have. Candidates are increasingly seeking a sense of purpose in their work, so it makes sense to embed purpose in your values through connection to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) themes. Companies like Unilever have gone all in on this approach and even mandated executives assign a purpose to every product in the company's portfolio. An examination of how Uber's company values changed after a period of turmoil show a transition from focusing on winning to working with others, serving community and valuing differences. Intent of your messaging matters.
2--Consider Potential Factors as an alternative to values when communicating culture. Some companies have made the decision to replace or supplement company values with Potential Factors. Potential Factors (and their related cousin, competencies) are designed to identify what a company values most in talent and as such, serve as a guide in how that company hires, promotes, rewards, and at times, fires. Your process for determining Potential Factors at your company revolves around what makes high performers at your company (regardless of position) successful.
3--Consider swinging for the fence by activating audacious goals/themes across your mission, value statements and cultural collateral. Nothing activates candidate interest like big goals that stand out from the crowd called BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals). What are you chasing that's big? Are you brave enough to say it? Nike used a BHAG in the 1960's when their cultural goal was to "crush Adidas". Elon Musk is using BHAGs at SpaceX today by pledging to put humans on Mars by 2024. For a more subtle approach, revisit the Netflix Culture Deck, which states that the goal of the streaming giant is to build a team that resembles a pro sports team rather than a traditional workforce.
4--For true cultural activation, your values should appear across the recruit/perform/succession continuum. When it comes to communicating values, potential factors and BHAGs, most companies develop company values, print some posters, add pages to the intranet and call it a day. While developing an attractive set of values can help you on the recruiting trail if communicated properly, to truly unlock the cultural potential of values, companies must ensure values appear across the recruit/perform/succession continuum. That means once you develop values, you have to measure your people on their effectiveness in displaying those stated values to get results (regardless of their job) and ensure they impact promotion/succession decisions as well.
If your values and other cultural tools aren't a part of your performance/succession process, you've got some work to do, either by incorporating what you have in those tools or starting your values/potential factors process from scratch.
Ideas matter when it comes to getting your share of great talent. Of course, you have to back that up with operational excellence in your people practice once you onboard candidates.
Views expressed are the product of the school of hard knocks, which includes watching my team at Kinetix represent great companies and brands on the RPO recruiting trail. Reach out if you ever need recruiting help while you build something great.