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The secret to hiring for culture fit (hint: it’s not rocket science)

(OPINION EDITORIAL) The two things that most companies still can’t figure out how to do to make an efficient and effective hire for the company’s culture.

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millennial generations

Finding “your people”

According to the 2016 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey, nearly two thirds of respondents say it’s hard to find a cultural fit when hiring. And when there isn’t a good fit, we often end up losing people fairly quickly, and that’s expensive and inefficient.

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So given what’s at stake here, why are we finding it so hard to align who we’re hiring with what our culture truly is?

You sit on a thrones of lies

In short, because the hiring process is fundamentally dishonest.

I don’t mean recruiters and candidates are lying outright (though that does happen too).

I mean that the entire system is built on the premise that neither side in the process is going to be speaking the whole truth.

Let’s be real

On the employee side, candidates obviously want the job, so it is in their interest to present a picture of themselves that best matches what the employer wants to see.

The truth is, they are not presenting the picture that reflects their own greatest strengths, potential, or aspirations in an authentic way—instead, they are telling the employer what they want to hear. It is in their interest to do so.

The (kinda) truth, the (almost)whole truth, and nothing but the (sorta) truth

And on the employer side, organizations are in the middle of a “war” for talent, so we’re not about to tell the whole truth of what it’s like to work here.

We’ll stress how great our culture is, and share our cool core values (Integrity! Excellence! Fun! Work-life-balance!).

To get the best talent to say yes, we’re going to present an attractive picture, even if that means not sharing the whole truth of what it’s really like here. It is in our interest to do so.

It is in all of our interests to NOT speak the truth. Hmmm, and we’re finding culture fit hard to do? Imagine that.

So how do we break this pattern?

On the employee side, organizations have been making efforts. There are more holistic assessments of candidates to get a more complete picture—for example several of the companies we found in our research are including short-term work assignments as part of their interviewing process.

There’s a lot more to assess when watching people getting their hand dirty trying out doing the job and interacting with others, compared to just asking them questions about doing the job.

But what’s happening on the employer side?

Why are we not working harder to present a more holistic and authentic picture of what it’s like to work at our organizations?

The candidates should be able to see that information, just like we employers want to see the whole picture of who they are.

The only way you get true culture fit is if the honest picture is painted on both sides of the equation.

Here’s the rub

Most employers don’t even know what their culture is. They know what their recruiting and marketing collateral SAYS their culture is, and they know about all of their efforts to create a culture that the business literature says you SHOULD have, but they don’t know what it’s really like to work there.

They don’t know the actual genetic code that determines what employees will, in fact, experience when they work there.

Let’s say you discover that you are a fairly hierarchical place. You may think that you should perhaps hide that trait in your hiring process, given today’s “culture cool kids” emphasis on flattening hierarchies and the growth of emerging systems of self-management, like Holacracy.

But here’s the catch: what if the way you emphasize hierarchy actually drives your success in your unique environment?Click To Tweet

If you got clear on that, you’d be smart to advertise the hierarchical nature of your culture. Because then you could attract the people want that, people who know they will thrive in that environment.

Suddenly you’re hiring people who naturally connect to what you already know drives your success. That’s cultural fit – NOT just hiring people “just like us”.

Play for keeps

But it starts with knowing what is, and then connecting that to what drives your success— two steps that most organizations today are ignoring. The ones who figure this out are winning the war for talent.

#HireForCulture

Maddie Grant is author of Humanize and When Millennials Take Over, and is Founding Partner at WorkXO, a culture startup that helps forward thinking leaders in growth oriented organizations activate their workplace culture to attract the right talent, increase engagement, and unleash human potential through the Workplace Genome™ Project.

Business Finance

How to survive a recession in the modern economy

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Advice about surviving a recession is common these days, but its intended audience can leave a large gap in application.

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There’s no question of whether or not we’re in a recession right now, and while some may debate the severity of this recession in comparison to the last major one, there are undoubtedly some parallels–something Next Avenue’s Elizabeth White highlights in her advice on planning for the next few months (or years).

Among White’s musings are actionable strategies that involve forecasting for future layoffs, anticipating age discrimination, and swallowing one’s ego in regards to labor worth and government benefits like unemployment.

White isn’t wrong. It’s exceptionally important to plan for the future as much as possible–even when that plan undergoes major paradigm shifts a few times a week, at best–and if you can reduce your spending at all, that’s a pretty major part of your planning that doesn’t necessarily have to be subjected to those weekly changes.

However, White also approaches the issue of a recession from an angle that assumes a few things about the audience–that they’re middle-aged, relatively established in their occupation, and about to be unemployed for years at a time. These are, of course, completely reasonable assumptions to make…but they don’t apply to a pretty large subset of the current workforce.

We’d like to look at a different angle, one from which everything is a gig, unemployment benefits aren’t guaranteed, and long-term savings are a laughable concept at best.

White’s advice vis-a-vis spending is spot-on–cancelling literally everything you can to avoid recurring charges, pausing all non-essential memberships (yes, that includes Netflix), and downgrading your phone plan–it’s something that transcends generational boundaries.

In fact, it’s even more important for this generation than White’s because of how frail our savings accounts really are. This means that some of White’s advice–i.e., plan for being unemployed for years–isn’t really feasible for a lot of us.

It means that taking literally any job, benefit, handout, or circumstantial support that we can find is mandatory, regardless of setbacks. It means that White’s point of “getting off the throne” isn’t extreme enough–the throne needs to be abolished entirely, and survival mode needs to be implemented immediately.

We’re not a generation that’s flying all over the place for work, investing in real estate because it’s there, and taking an appropriate amount of paid time off because we can; we’re a generation of scrappy, gig economy-based, paycheck-to-paycheck-living, student debt-encumbered individuals who were, are, and will continue to be woefully unprepared for the parameters of a post-COVID world.

If you’re preparing to be unemployed, you’re recently unemployed, or you even think you might undergo unemployment at some point in your life, start scrapping your expenses and adopt as many healthy habits as possible. Anything goes.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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