How do you hire for values? Should you?


There are varying reports about the availability of workers in certain industries and functional areas. From developing homegrown talent to bringing in skilled people, there appears to be a tremendous effort to help hire for the vacancies and growth opportunities.

At the same time we hear that young workers can expect to have over 10 different jobs in their careers. Various 2017 studies by CareerBuilder, Robert Half, and Cornerstone indicate that millennials are now the hiring managers and they expect that people will job hop.

Interesting sidebar, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers job hopped in their 20’s as well.

Young workers are increasingly looking for companies with the same value mix as they have. My point is to look at some different approaches to determining how this values-based assessment can be more synchronized than it typically is. I mean, if companies truly hired for the values they purport to maintain, no one should theoretically be looking to change jobs.

The reality is that most companies talk about how great they are to work for, yet they do not consistently look for triggers to determine if they are actually hiring for a fit into their great environment. Over the years, I have seen people get hired in different organizations, only to leave within a few months. The “square peg in a round hole” scenario.

If you are an organization that claims “ethical behaviour” as a corporate value, how do you test for this?

  • Do you ask the candidate to define ethical behaviour?
  • What type of behavioural-based questions do you ask:
    • “How have you demonstrated ethical behaviour?” This is direct and can tell you how someone thinks about such an important topic.
    • More than just asking for definitions you can be quite specific:
      • “What did you tell your employer about why you needed this time off?” If the person answers with, “I said I had a doctor’s appointment” then I suggest you hire someone else.
      • “Have you ever ran a stop sign or red light?” Most people have at least rolled through once in their driving careers. Especially when no other car was around. However, “that which you do in the dark, comes out in the light.” If you do only small things when no one is around, you are starting habits of cutting corners or selectively applying the rules. Do you want someone who claims they have never done this, and who might not be telling the truth. Or do you want someone who does these small indiscretions to work for you when they might do worse things working for you?

Once you have the right people, are you using everyone to create the type of value-driven organization you need? I was speaking with a business owner who knows his employees can now smoke marijuana. As we talked, I suggested that he really needs to have his work crews self-police their use during off hours. By this I mean that small use would be acceptable during the week because they have a job to do each day and they want to build accountability with each other. When the leaders are clear on the overall objectives, strategies and values, then others know what they are signing up for.

As I understand it, owners must be very careful about how they tell employees about smoking marijuana. Please consult legal expertise for proper guidance.

When you have your employees taking ownership  like this you are well on your way to truly living the right type of values. This becomes employees’ intrinsic motivation and accountability. It is what Dan Pink describes in his book, “Drive.” He states there are the three elements of autonomy, mastery, and purpose that research shows are the true drivers of motivation.

I maintain that it is always easier to steer the rocket, rather than light it, when speaking of directing employees. You cannot consistently motivate someone for a long period of time. People have free will and can make their choices. You need to find those people who will make the best choices for each other, the organization, and especially for all your customers with their internal drive.

Think of the great Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970’s. The leaders in the clubhouse knew exactly what behaviour was required to become and remain champions. The coaches did not have to manage and deal with a lot of the day-to-day locker room issues. The players could do that because they all bought into what was required to be a champion on and off the football field.

When you have this culture, that is when you win. Consistently.

Post Dedication: RIP Duane – a good teammate, friend and coach. We miss you.

About the Author
Tim Kist is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC), whose certification was obtained through a combination of experience, examination and continuous professional development. With over 20 years of senior industry management, combined with nearly 8 years in management consulting with national firms, Tim brings together extensive experience, objectivity, and front line leadership. As a national athlete and current university football coach, Tim lives and understands the evaluation, preparation and game planning required for successful high level individual and team performance. He has successfully brought this coaching approach to his work teams throughout his leadership career. Read More
A version of this post was first published here.