Problem Number 1 – Hiring the Right Person

So many companies add a key hire without ensuring a cultural fit. Each time you hire a new employee, you’re not only hiring someone to fill a job category or position but also making a decision to bring another potential leader into your organization. You’re not just hiring an employee; you’re hiring a businessperson—someone who can understand the company’s operating model, how the company makes money, and how the success of the company is tied to her personal success. You’re hiring someone who can embrace your principles and values. That is, every person you hire must embrace your culture.

As organizations build internal processes and mature, they often succumb to the temptation of allowing someone else to build their teams. In the business fable “The Five Temptations of a CEO”, author Patrick Lencioni warns leaders about abdicating their responsibility of hiring; instead, they must place an empha­sis on building and eventually trusting their teams.

Use the following test when adding a person to your team. Does the candidate have the ability and desire to do the following:

  • Learn your operating model?
  • Execute your operating model?
  • Teach your operating model?

If you can answer yes to these questions during the hiring process, you are thinking in terms of attracting people with the right attitude.

A candidate’s willingness to spend the time and effort to learn your operating model sets the stage for his ability to make sound business decisions once hired. If each employee understands what the company does and how the company does it, everyday actions are translated directly into top­line revenue gains or bottom­line profits. Employees will understand how they can affect key management indicators. When executing your operating model as a part of their daily activities, they will understand the direct relationship of their actions to the success of the company. They know the decisions they make every day can materially affect the profitability of the company. Finally, when employees develop the ability to teach the operating model to new employees, your way of doing business is reinforced. One generation of employees sees to it that the next generation of employees understands the operating model, thus beginning the never­ending cycle of learning, executing, and teaching your way of doing business.

Also, ask yourself, does the candidate have the ability and desire to take these actions:

  • Challenge your operating model?
  • Improve your operating model?

Your competitive position is destined to change. There is certainly no sign that competition is lessening or that your products and services will succeed without changing. Customers continue to ask, “What have you done for me lately?” This necessitates constant change and improvement in your company’s operating model. Just ask BP or any Wall Street bank about the need to adapt and change.

Spending most of your time asking candidates probing, open­ ended, leading questions will help you assess their ability to fit into your culture. Consider using small teams when interview­ing candidates and strive toward a conversation rather than an inquisition; people relate differently in group sessions than they do one­ on ­one. Ask candidates questions about their experiences working closely with customers. Determine if they are motivated to help customers. Request that they tell you stories about their experiences working in teams. Have them discuss the innova­tive ways they have improved their current company’s ability to perform. Focus on their goals and aspirations. Are they interested in learning how your business runs? Do they take accountability for their actions? Their answers to these questions indicate how well they will fit into the business.

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