In the late 90’s and early 2000’s companies, non-profit organizations and businesses were busily going through team exercises designed to identify their core values. Leadership gurus and consultants were raking it in as they counseled clients to get their values nailed down as the next holy grail of organizational culture and leadership. The problem? Once created, posted on the organizations website, brochures, and signage on-site most team members couldn’t recall their corporate values.
Most values are so basic that you want to say, “Well shouldn’t that be a given?” For example, let’s say you are a cartoonist and you are interviewing with a production company that has 10 cartoonists on staff. During the interview process the person interviewing you states that creativity is a corporate value. Isn’t that a given? Cartoonists are artists and artists are creative by default. Why do you have to say it? Or, a CPA firm proclaims integrity/character as a value. That’s nice, but shouldn’t all accounting firms be honest and extol integrity by the very nature of what they do? Who hires an accountant with no integrity? Who hires a cartoonist with zero creativity?
Many of us from a very diverse palate of industry bought into this for a long time and some of us with multiple companies. I actually worked for a European automotive company that had a stated value: We Get Sh_t Done! You can’t make this stuff up!
An aside, when it came out I was astounded and thought about our clients were complaining about performance in another area and wondered could we really declare that value, let alone the lack of professionalism it portrayed.
I’m a writer. Not the best by a longshot, but if my company had told me when I interviewed that they value creative and compelling writing, I would have laughed. Of course they do! Why else would they be interviewing writers?
I’m not so much interested in your values as I am your mission/vision. Where is your company going? What do you want to do? What problem, or concern are you helping to address? Your mission is far more important than your values. What if every single employee in your company could passionately describe the company’s mission? Wouldn’t that be way more important than identifying the company’s values?
When you interview and hire you remove all doubt about values. A DISC profile, Enneagram, or Meyers Briggs can help you weed through people who don’t share your corporate values. But what are they fired up about? What excites them and motivates them to keep going? What is the fire in their belly? That’s your mission/vision. Can they buy-in, affirm and fit into the vision/mission of the company, or organization?
Discovering values is easy, interview them! Ask deep probing and penetrating questions. Ask 1-3 of non-management staff to meet them and ask questions. Your people can determine a “fit” for the organization more than any exercise, or instrument. Spend your time on the vision and mission of your organization. Again, can they buy-in? If not, thank them and move on. If they can and are qualified, hire them!
I’m not advocating you trash your corporate values. I’m simply saying that your corporate mission/vision is far more important. If you are doing your due diligence in the hiring process you are going to hire people with shared values, and those who don’t won’t want to be there. Let’s say you value a clean, professional appearance and the prospective hire comes to the interview in bluejeans, a t-shirt and tats all over. Duh!
But if you are a company that craves individuality, self-expression and creativity this person may be the best for you! Neither is right, or wrong. Simply hone in on your vision/mission. And yes, allow room for the occasional exception because they are out there and they are great team players.
If you focus on your vision/mission you can’t miss. People want to hitch their wagon to like-minded companies whose vision/mission they can embrace. How compelling is your vision?
Monty Carter, Storyteller
102 Trade Street
Greer, SC 29651