Do You Hire For Culture-Fit or Skills?

Having your work life disrupted causes the wheels to turn about what job and work environments should look like! Finding good employees is hard, right?

I find most work environments to be narrow and restrictive. I believe in everyone having their roles, but pigeon-holing people is a huge mistake a lot of organizations make. On more than one occasion I’ve had an employer who totally lost sight of my background. I am a writer at my core, and being in a position where that skill can be utilized is a bonus for anyone I’ve worked for.

But most of the time we’re told to stay in our lane (like being told writing “wasn’t my job” in the past). If you look at my career holistically, you’ll see I have many lanes. Someone introduced me for a speaking engagement recently, and she created my bio from my Website homepage… It sounded ridiculous when read all at once, the variety of things I do, but it’s reality.

Part of the reason I absolutely love owning my own business is because I’m not limited. I was referred to teach an association management company about social media, and they asked for a photographer referral so they could get their headshots also that day… Well, you’re in luck – I can do that too!

Why do employers do this? While I fully understand having job descriptions makes the Human Resources element of owning and running a business easier, I think more companies should be open to allowing their staff to color outside the lines.

People Matter

This is also why I believe companies should hire for the PERSON. If you meet a person who fits your company culture, but you don’t have a position they “fit within” at the time, why let that person get away? Hiring for a culture fit should be a priority because so often someone checks the boxes for appearing to be right for a job, but if they don’t fit in, you probably shouldn’t hire them.

Hire for the Person

When I interviewed for my first “real job” out of college they included a personality assessment. I made it through the in-person interviews well, and was told there was “this one more step.” If the assessment determined I wasn’t a fit for the group I’d be working with and around, I likely wouldn’t get the job… I was told it had happened before.

At the time I thought – wow, that’s harsh! I did get the job, and ultimately, I was given a copy of my results — they were fascinating. I still have that assessment many years later! I love to go backand read it, along with my performance reviews over the years, because they show a couple of things. First, they show how I haven’t changed personally, but it also shows how consistent I’ve been over the years. I now fully believe that assessment was a great tool because personal compatibility is crucial for teams to work well with each other, which ultimately makes for greatness in the organizations we work within.

I’ve also been on the end of the “didn’t get the job” after some pretty intense testing (think SATs all over again, but more cerebral than academic), and an interview with an occupational psychiatrist. Is that taking it a bit too far? Maybe. And I was crushed at the time because I felt like everything else in the process went well. Perhaps I wasn’t a good cultural fit for them, and I’m more understanding of that now.

Flying Solo

I consider from time-to-time whether I would like to work for someone else again. In fact, I got to thinking so much about it I started making a wish list of what would have to happen for me to take that step… it’s a pretty lofty list. The people I’ve had work for me over the years were hired because they were competent, but more than anything because we are compatible, and I know I can trust them.

Trust. That’s a big word in business, right? People do business with those they trust… and when we hire people we’re also trusting they will do a great job for us. What if you got that trust first, and then figured out how they could make a huge impact on your organization? Sounds like a great direction to go as far as hiring is concerned.

Finding good help is HARD. I’d love to see more organizations make it easier on themselves!

Just Jump

It’s been a really interesting seven months for me both personally and professionally. In September I was struck with the sudden reality that my parents will not always be in my life. Of course, I knew this already, but when you learn your Mom is being tested for lung cancer, it puts that reality right in front of you. And it sparks a whole current of change.

Then learning she’s terminal, and that Dad’s dementia is worse than we knew? Devastating. Of course, the weeks and months that followed have been really, really hard, with a ton of change for everyone in the family. A tremendous amount of loss.

Concurrently, my business has been doing really well. For more than 2.5 years I’ve had a marketing consulting business — a sole proprietorship that’s been steady. I’ve had a couple of peaks, but it’s mostly been consistent. Then suddenly in the span of four weeks this spring I had four separate inquiries and referrals for new business. Now, there are only so many hours in a day, so this pushed me to decide whether to take on new business and hire (previous contractors) to work for me on a regular basis.

Next level. I didn’t intend on having a corporation, but helping new businesses tackle their marketing and communication challenges, and growing my company, became a really interesting concept! I love a challenge, and new clients bring with them new opportunities to grow both mentally and financially.

43 Meter Jump… 141+ Feet!

So I jumped. There’s irony in the timing, too, because I just realized today is the one year anniversary of my first bungy jump off the Kawarau Bridge in New Zealand — the birthplace of the bungy. A metaphor for how I’ve chosen to approach life in general, and now also in business. With the bungy decision I didn’t think about “what if something goes wrong?” I just knew it would be exhilarating, and that would be the payoff.

I’ve filed incorporation papers! I’ve hired a graphic designer to create a real logo and assets for me! I’m putting all the pieces in place that will support a successful business, including hiring staff, and shopping for admin tools we should be using. This. Is. Real.

Exciting times! And terrifying. And exhilarating! And uncertain. But that’s all part of the adventure–if I don’t jump, I’ll never know. I’ve written before about being a “doer”… Which is a touch different than jumping into the unknown. The only way to stretch ourselves, and see where it will take us is to jump.

It’s not about having no fear, but considering “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” It might not work out the way I’m envisioning, but if I don’t try I’ll never know. It’s important to own the fear, but to do it anyway. Because it might just be the best choice I’ve ever made.

I’ve para-glided in Switzerland. I’ve skydived in San Diego. I’ve bungy-jumped in New Zealand. And now I’ve incorporated. Mom would be really proud. Let’s do this!!!

In case you’d like to see the jump video (complete w/gleeful scream)… CLICK HERE

Small Biz is Big Biz

Growing up the youngest of nine children, the value of a dollar was very strongly impressed upon me over the years. Any item of clothing I wanted my Mom would ask “What else do you have that goes with it?” I wore a uniform five days per week for seven years, so as far as she was concerned I didn’t really need many other clothes anyway (tell that to a 12-year-old these days!). We drank powdered milk, and so on. Because of this I admit I truly do enjoy saving a dime, but as I grow older I’m realizing the value of good service and good business (and a really great vacation!) even more.

I also joke that I’m an anti-wal-mart-ite. That is one store I’ve never been able to get on board with, especially after learning how they force their vendors to lower their prices to such a level that they’re then forced to manufacture overseas. The lure (the volume) is too much to turn down, but then it forces businesses into a place they don’t want to be. I read an article in Fast Company in 2003 called The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know and it stuck with me. It doesn’t even speak of the labor and low-wage issues that come with the monolith, but sheds light on the business, and it’s a must-read.

I’ve come to understand this Wal-Mart way is capitalism in the highest form, and that I’d prefer to patronize smaller businesses. Small business owners might need to charge more than the Wal-Marts and Amazons of the world, but I’m willing to pay it to do even a small part to keep the little guy in business. Today I bought two real-life books with paper pages and all—in an actual bookstore! Upstart Crow is a bookstore & coffee shop located in a tourism-rich area called Seaport Village in San Diego. It’s beyond charming, and evokes feelings of how bookstores used to be, much like “The Shop Around the Corner” in the movie You’ve Got Mail. Most of the stores and restaurants in the Village are owned by small-business owners, and I love it.

According to the Small Business Association (SBA), in 2014 28.5 million small businesses were in operation in the US, 22.7 million of which were single-owner ventures (like my own). It goes on to say that small businesses have been touted as having a huge part in ending the U.S. recession, and that 58% of business owners expected growth in 2015, further encouraging us that the economy is solid.

Do you have small businesses in your community? Show them some love! Buy a book. Buy your flip-flops from the corner surf shop. Hire an independent consultant or a small agency to help you with your marketing… You’ll be helping the economy, in addition to helping individuals vs. the big box corporations.