Three Overlooked Concepts in Culture-Centric Hiring

Remember the “Telephone Game”? You know, when one person starts with a clear message, then passes it around the group, and by the time the message gets back to you it’s morphed into something completely offbeat, leaving you with a “how the hell did we get here” face? That’s the same look my daughter gave me last week when she realized we were going to the wedding for Sue, not heading to the Petting Zoo.

But seriously, when the communication of recruiting expectations goes awry, it’s no laughing matter. It’s integral to recruiting to understand the criteria for success and what ‘good’ looks like: the desired skills, ideal personalities, and non-negotiables. Miscommunications, distractions, and overlooking crucial details can derail the hiring process, wasting valuable time and resources. How can you ensure clear communication in recruiting top talent and cultural alignment?

In the quest to build strong, resilient organizations, the importance of clear expectations around hiring for cultural alignment cannot be overstated. Culture isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the daily DNA that defines how we operate, collaborate, and thrive together. As we navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, here are three key insights that separate the good outcomes from the bad in the case of hiring for culture.

Define Your Cultural North Star

To truly cultivate a culture that inspires and empowers, organizations must first define their cultural North Star – the guiding principles that illuminate the path forward. These values aren’t just words on a poster; they’re the bedrock upon which our actions and decisions are built. Before diving into the hiring process, take the time to articulate, prioritize, and clearly communicate these values. Look for candidates who not only resonate with these principles but also embody them in their everyday actions and interactions. Remember, the cultural fit isn’t about finding clones; it’s about finding individuals who share your values and bring their unique perspectives to the table.

Take Action:

Wondering how to put this into action during your next team meeting? Ask the group: “What are our core guiding principles and rank them in terms of importance for the Talent Acquisition department.” There’s really no wrong answer on the rankings, but what you’ll find is an awesome discussion on who is paying attention, who has no clue, and how each individual perceives the values differently. From there, create a conversation about how these values are vital when searching for new talent – and workshop a few key questions to add to your screening process. 

Dive Deep with Behavioral & Cultural Assessments

Traditional interviews often skim the surface, focusing on resumes, interest, and credentials. But to truly gauge cultural fit, we must dive deeper, exploring the behavioral patterns that define who we are and how we operate. Behavioral assessments and interviews provide a simple, clear window into a candidate’s past experiences and actions, revealing how they’ve lived out your cultural values in real-world scenarios. You’ll gain data you would’ve had to find out the hard way, and in turn, you’ll be able to ask probing questions that uncover how candidates have approached challenges, collaborated with others, and embodied key cultural traits in their previous roles. Look for stories of resilience, integrity, and collaboration that resonate with your cultural ethos.

Where to start on leveraging Behavioral and Cultural Assessments? First you’ll need to remove any negative biases that you may have about assessments. “They are fluff,” “Not backed by science,” “They aren’t accurate”…etc. These are some of the things I hear, but, in every single case of negative feedback regarding assessments, we’ve found there were crucial steps missing to make them as effective as they can be. We can change that, putting the data to good use, and allowing your team to gain tangible insights that are deeply rooted within each qualified candidate.

Take Action:

Are you supposed to offer assessments to everyone? Absolutely not. Typically, most organizations will offer assessments to their top 3-5 candidates – and when administered through LAK Group, we break down the data (timely) and suggest a few questions for digging deeper into each candidate to make your final selections. Save yourself some future pain, and understand more about the people you bring onto your teams. 

Embrace the Power of Diversity

While cultural alignment is crucial, we must also embrace the power of diversity to fuel innovation and growth. Diversity isn’t just a checkbox; it’s a core part of effective leadership and strategy that broadens our perspectives and enriches our collective intelligence. When hiring for culture, seek out candidates who bring diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints to the table. Embrace inclusivity as a core value, ensuring that every voice is heard and valued. By fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are welcomed and respected, we create a culture of belonging where all individuals can thrive and contribute their best work. 

Take Action:

Focused on creating a more collaborative culture of belonging? It starts with leadership. Not just at the top, but in the middle. A company’s biggest opportunity to impact culture is through their front-line and mid-level leadership. After all, they are the people who interact with 70-80% of the employee population daily. Providing this core group with resources to have better, more meaningful and open conversations is vital to the future state of your workplace culture. For example, something bite-sized like LAK’s Coaching on Demand platform, ORIEL, is perfect for allowing leaders to engage in development on their own time – with specific topics that matter most to them.

In essence, hiring for culture is about more than just finding the right skill set; it’s about finding individuals who align with our values, inspire our teams, and propel our organizations forward. By defending our cultural North Star, diving deep with behavioral insights, and embracing the power of diversity, we can cultivate a culture that empowers individuals to bring their whole selves to work and achieve remarkable things together. As Simon Sinek often reminds us, when we prioritize culture, we pave the way for enduring success and fulfillment in the journey ahead.

What’s next? We all have questions that we are working on answering – send one of your most difficult questions to LAK Group today, and let’s make a difference together.