Core Values: Developing Your Company Culture

Core Values
Build a winning culture

‘Interviewing and Hiring 101’ is a resource for interviewing and hiring industry best practices. We developed this series with the goal of providing you with the necessary tools to Hire Better, Engage Employees, and more importantly, Improve the Bottom Line. In an attempt to keep this forum open we would like to invite you to provide feedback through our @Hire4Impact feed on Twitter.

By now you can tell that we’re really getting into the thick of things. This week’s article is going to focus on something that, we at VisionSpark, are very passionate about: Core Values. Understanding core values help you identify which job types and work environments are best suited for your candidates – the most motivating, appealing, and rewarding job types and work environments. Those individuals who are satisfied in this aspect tend to be more successful at their given jobs, but most importantly, are the best fit for your organization.

Now that’s not to say that this is the ‘end-all-be-all’ in the candidate selection process. Keep in mind what we’ve been talking about in the past few weeks. Understanding and measuring core values is just as important as knowing the competencies and cognitive abilities of your candidates. What we’re saying is that measuring core values will:

  • Help identify how well a candidate will adjust, fit or assimilate to your organization’s culture.

  • Identify the best ways to communicate with candidates and talent so that they, and your organization, are successful (improving the bottom line).

During the hiring process, aligning values with the benchmarked job will help the hiring manager identify at which position a candidate will be most successful. Additionally, understanding the values possessed by a candidate will identify gaps which will need to be developed in order for the candidate to grow within your organization (particularly useful during leadership development and succession planning).

Over the years, there have been many schools of thought on values. The two that stand out the most belong to Eduard Spranger and Shalom H. Schwartz. On one hand, Spranger’s school of thought explains that people act on their values based on past experiences and beliefs. He understood that people saw the world differently. He went on to identify 6 world-views: theoretic, utilitarian, aesthetic, social, individualistic, and traditional. The order of these attributes within an individual dictates how they act and behave. On the other hand, the Schwartz school of thought states that values are beliefs tied to emotions; and they are motivational by nature. He went on to explain that the importance of one value is determined by its relationship to another. Though these two schools of thought differ ever so slightly, the concept remains the same – values influence how a person behaves. It is important to note that both theorists believed that the values of any given individual are subject to change over time. This statement alone further proves why it is important to measure values as they relate to the selection and hiring of talent in your organization – knowing and understanding this will help you identify the different ways in which to communicate, motivate, and develop your talent.

As always we would like to stress how important it is to use validated and approved assessments – it will only serve you well in the long term. More importantly, it is absolutely essential to have a hiring strategy in place – as this next example illustrates.

Just about anyone in our industry knows (at least to some extent) just how effective the organizational culture is at What most of you may not know is that it wasn’t always this way. Tony Hsieh, CEO of admits that he initially stayed away from the formalized nature of values saying that it was too much of a “corporate” thing to do. It wasn’t until an employee convinced him to formally define his company’s culture that things changed for Zappos. As the company continued to grow, it became more and more apparent that they developed a list of core values that every employee possess. After all, the hiring strategy had to be consistent across the board if they were to continue to grow. It was a long and difficult process, but they solicited feedback from all of their employees as to what the core values should be. Not corporate “guiding principles” or “core values,” but something that they could truly embrace; values that they hire and fire upon. Today Zappos’ recruiting department uses interview questions that were developed around their 10 core values.

Just think… what if they had these core values from the onset? What does your hiring strategy look like? If you don’t have one, now’s the time to strongly consider it; because companies need to identify their own values before they can hire candidates based on them.

VisionSpark is the Talent Planning and Retained Executive Search Firm of Alec Broadfoot and Adam McCampbell. For more news and updates on hiring and training, follow the conversation at @Hire4Impact or like us on Facebook.

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