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Whether you run a start-up focused on a single market or own a large company that operates worldwide, defining the company’s mission and values is the key to communicating its raison d’être, connecting with customers and organize the group of people who will work towards a common business goal.
This is the “First Who, Then What” concept presented by Jim Collins in his book From good to excellent refers to. It also encourages entrepreneurs at the helm of building successful organizations to “put the right people on the bus” – in key posts – and only then decide where to ride the bus. My company quickly became convinced of the veracity of this idea and I am willing to share how we ensure there are no “random passengers” on board.
Related: How establishing core values drives success
People come first
When we saw our company grow 10x in the first three months after launch, we knew this growth would most likely continue along the same lines. And now, after ten months of operation, monthly revenue is over $3 million from scratch, which represents even more performance, meaning our assumptions were correct. So we needed a more advanced approach to the business to keep up with it.
After consulting with some highly skilled entrepreneurs from various niches, we have summarized our research and concluded that the first and most important criterion of any large organization is quality recruitment.
Corporate values that enable the workforce to know the essential parts of performing a particular job are what underpin hiring processes. They serve as reliable guidelines for an employer seeking long-term and productive cooperation.
While technical skills may be corrected or improved over time, a prospective employee’s values are usually unchanging. In the event that the internal culture of a candidate is against the principles of your company, making a job offer:
- threatens to waste time and energy on training;
- can cost thousands of dollars: our human resources department calculated the losses to be six monthly salaries from a bad hire plus the overhead costs of organizational inefficiency;
- it will ultimately require more effort to revitalize the search for a better employee.
Establishing your company’s core values helps avoid these outcomes, systematize the qualities you need to have for your staff, and better understand which workforce should be fired. If employees get easily discouraged by what they do after a month in the business, don’t learn from their failures, or don’t want to grow, they aren’t with us for long. Our bus passengers never give up and always try to achieve more.
Related: Stand for Something: How to Establish Authentic Core Values
Only true values have power
When working on your company culture, consider the values that matter to you. You are not motivating your employees to lead a moderate and thrifty lifestyle if you buy a luxury handbag every time you pass an expensive boutique. Otherwise, your employees will soon feel the difference and communicating with the team will be much more challenging.
If multiple entrepreneurs run a business, all co-founders must agree on the company’s values to avoid future misunderstandings and conflicts. As three co-founders, we have come to common opinions about our company. Among them, we believe that we must be the first in everything. So we are waiting for a job candidate who is not only a good employee but also a top performer. We also don’t tolerate gossip and rumours, so we can’t go any further with those who prove to be prone to backstabbing.
Related: 7 traits you need to find in a co-founder
Implement your values in business
Based on our experience, your best bet is to integrate your values into all employee development activities, which require excellent internal communication. We started by introducing the company’s mission and values to our C-level executives to evaluate if they could settle into the team. As soon as some positive progress was made, we designed our own cultural fit scoring system, which involves:
- Hold an extra interview with a knowledgeable expert to determine if the candidate’s values correlate with the company’s core beliefs. In cases with C-level managers and team leaders, the co-founders themselves often fulfill this role. Ideally, you should involve an impartial specialist who has not previously participated in the hiring process and will never even cross paths with a candidate in this job. Thus, you manage to avoid prejudice as people subconsciously sympathize with those they have already devoted their time and energy to. This tactic is a good risk hedge: third-party opinions have already saved us from multiple bad assumptions.
- Include new employee acquaintance with core values in your onboarding task list so that every specialist knows what qualities you value along with hard skills;
- Launch individual training plans and performance reviews for employees who generally perform well but lack some essential qualities. For example, suppose people are afraid to make decisions. If so, managers are gradually delegating relevant tasks to them. Then the discussion of the results takes place.
As a final note, I’d like to share a good method my company uses as part of the cultural fit when selecting suitable candidates during interviews: appeal to your senses. This means that you spend the first part of the conversation diligent and attentive to detail, but then you step away from what you hear, focus on your inner thoughts and try to hear the candidate in front of you. Sometimes employers get too enthusiastic about the process and ignore their concerns when having concerns should be a key signal for rejection.
Creating the culture of the company is more important than strategizing because the strategies are executed by people who are genuinely inspired by your mission and your values. Setting up the right cultural scoring system can significantly increase recruiting effectiveness and ensure the long-term success of your company.
Related: Having a work-life balance doesn’t make sense. To achieve your goals, take another approach
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