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Whether you run a start-up that focuses on a single market or have a large company that operates globally, defining the company’s mission and values is the fundamental necessary to communicate the company’s raison d’être, connect with customers and organize the group of people who will work towards a common business goal.
This is what the “First Who, Then What” concept presented by Jim Collins in his book Good to great refers to. It also encourages entrepreneurs at the helm of building successful organizations to “get the right people on the bus” – in the most important seats – and only then decide where to steer the bus. My company quickly became convinced of the correctness of this idea, and I’m willing to share how we make sure there are no “random passengers” on board.
Related: How Establishing Core Values Leads to Success
People come first
When we saw our business grow 10x in the first three months after launch, we understood that this increase would most likely continue in the same direction. And now, after 10 months of operation, monthly revenue from scratch is over $3 million, which is an even better performance, which means our assumptions were correct. So we needed a more sophisticated approach to business to keep pace.
After consulting with some highly skilled entrepreneurs from various niches, we summarized our research and concluded that the number one and most important criterion of any major organization was quality recruitment.
Company values that let staff know the essentials of doing business are the foundation of the hiring processes. They serve as a reliable guideline for an employer who strives for long-term and productive cooperation.
While hard skills can be corrected or improved over time, a potential employee’s values are usually unchanging. If a candidate’s inner culture goes against your company’s principles, do the following:
- threatens to waste time and energy on training;
- could cost you thousands of dollars — our HR department calculated the losses to be six months’ salary from a bad hire plus indirect costs from organizational inefficiency;
- will ultimately require more effort to revive the search for a better employee.
By establishing your company’s core values, you can prevent these outcomes, systematize the qualities your staff should have, and better understand which workforce needs to be laid off. If after a month of work, employees quickly become discouraged by what they do, don’t learn from their failures or don’t want to grow, they won’t be with us for long. Our bus passengers never give up and always strive for more.
Related: Standing for Something: Establishing Authentic Core Values
Only true values have power
As you work on your company’s culture, think about the values that are important to you. Don’t motivate your employees to a moderate and frugal lifestyle if you buy a luxury handbag every time you walk past an expensive boutique. Otherwise, your employees will soon notice the difference and communication with the team will become a lot more challenging.
If multiple entrepreneurs run a company, all co-founders should agree on the company’s values to avoid future misunderstandings and conflicts. As three co-founders, we came to common opinions about our company. Among them, we believe that we should be first in everything. So we are waiting for an applicant who is not only a good employee, but also a top performer. Also, we do not tolerate gossip and rumours, so we cannot proceed with those who demonstrate that they are prone to backstabbing.
Related: 7 Traits You Should Find in a Co-Founder
Implementing your values in business
Based on our experience, the best solution is to integrate your values into all your employee development activities, which requires excellent internal communication. We started by presenting the company’s mission and values to our C-level executives to assess whether they could settle into the team. Once some positive progress was made, we designed our own culture-appropriate scoring system, which includes:
- Have an additional interview with a competent expert to determine whether the candidate’s values correlate with the company’s fundamental beliefs. In cases involving C-level managers and team leaders, the co-founders often fill this role themselves. Ideally, you involve an impartial specialist who has not previously participated in the recruitment process and will never even encounter a candidate on this job. This is how you manage to avoid the bias, because people subconsciously sympathize with those they already invest time and energy in. This tactic is a good hedge against the risks – third party opinions have already saved us from several bad hires.
- Including introduction of new employees to the core values in the list of onboarding activities so that every specialist knows which qualities you value in addition to hard skills;
- Launching individual training plans and performance appraisals for employees who perform well overall, but lack a number of essential qualities. For example, say that people are afraid to make decisions. Managers then gradually delegate relevant tasks to them. Then the discussion of the results takes place.
In conclusion, I would like to share a good method my company uses as part of the culture fit when selecting suitable candidates during job interviews: appeal to your senses. This means being diligent and attentive to details for the first part of the interview, but after that you step back from what you hear, focus on your inner thoughts, and try to feel the candidate in front of you. Sometimes employers get too excited about the process and ignore their doubts when doubts should be an important signal for refusal.
Creating the corporate culture is more important than strategizing because strategies are executed by people who are genuinely inspired by your mission and values. Setting up the right scoring system for an appropriate culture can significantly increase the effectiveness of your recruiting and ensure the long-term success of your company.
Related: Having a work-life balance sucks. Take a different approach to achieving your goals