It Starts With Values

bullet proof consulting

This year, my husband and I celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. We have been legal for 35 and have known one another for nearly 40. Or, as he likes to say, Honey, I have been with you for more than half of my life.

There is one trait my hubby has that I adore. He is not opinionated. You know folks who love or hate sports, politics, a polarizing figure, and believe they are right, their opinion is important, the world is screwed, and they need to share their beliefs frequently and forcefully? Of course, you do.

They can go on for hours in their self-obsessed glory and really destroy a lovely get-together by opening their mouths. My husband doesn’t do that. He actually has very little in the way of firm opinions. I asked him why he thought that was. “Because I always try to see both sides,” he answered.

The whole time we have been together, we have NEVER fought. Never had a time out. Nor a massive argument. Not ONCE. This has always surprised our friends and colleagues. As a result, we are often viewed as the weird couple from Mars.

Don’t get me wrong. We do piss one another off occasionally. And our life together has been no different than yours. We have experienced all kinds of losses – professional and business. Some of our friends have even said they couldn’t imagine sticking together with what we have been thru.

I finally came up with the reason we are still together.

My husband and I share very similar personal values.

Personal values are the things that are important to you in life. The characteristics and behaviours that motivate us and guide our decisions. For example, both of us can be annoyingly brutal in our quest for honesty and integrity at all times. And we believe family trumps everything.

Kindness is best spread lavishly. And staying clear of toxic people is better for all. Respecting others is paramount. Telling one another every single day at least three times we love the other person is imperative. Having a date night every week is foundational.

Listen, these are just a few things that work for us. And I am not advocating one bit that these are the best values that every marriage has. I know that they won’t work for everyone and may not work for you.

I am sharing this story because I want to make a point.

Think back to all the people in your life over the years, the ones you’ve had the best experiences with, the ones who brought you the most joy, and those who made all your interactions completely effortless. Those folks were the people with whom you shared common values.

And you can always feel, in your gut, the folks you won’t have much in common with. You can feel the dishonest ones, the cagey ones, and those who push the boundaries way past what you think is acceptable, right?

You feel a go or no go feeling with everyone you meet. We all do. And the evidence is incontrovertible that we all have different personal values, and when we articulate them, that conversation will get us very quickly to where they fit with us or not.

So, how come it is when most of us hire people for our teams, the first things most worry about are skills, the talent and the pay grade necessary to get the job done? Does that make sense when we humans KNOW for a fact that we get along better with people whose personal values are aligned closely with ours?

Of course not.

And that bit of hiring on the skill, talent and pay grade FIRST is the main reason why 80% of our employees are not engaged, are not motivated and are simply going thru the motions.

There is a better way. And it is the reason I can brag about turning ordinary humans into extraordinary result makers. Extraordinary teams. Teams who perform. Every member consistently gave me more than I asked.

I was never taught this way of hiring.

I stumbled on it accidentally. One day, I was feeling incredibly overworked and frustrated with the two-inch stack of resumes on my desk. I had no desire to look at another boring resume. I did not want to interview another terrible candidate. And I just wanted the whole thing off my plate.

Except I did not have anybody to dump the work on. And I also knew my track record for hiring was 50/50. It was a crapshoot. Sometimes I picked a winner. Sometimes I picked a loser. And I got no support from HR. Their job was finished by dumping resumes on me.

So, I did what you do.

I decided to blow up the whole hiring box. I called my direct reports together and announced I wanted them to get involved with the hiring of their colleagues. That I was no longer going to be the one and only.

Since they would work with them, we would have group interviews. And any question they wanted to ask a candidate was perfectly acceptable as long as they too would be willing to provide their own answer back to the candidate. So what did they need from me to get this new way going?

After the shock wore off, they decided that what was most important to them was that they got along with the person and that the person ultimately worked at their level of output. (in their words, no losers or misfits allowed!)

I replied with one thing —  Let’s draw up a list of personality traits that we think we want from all people we bring in.

Now that sounds much easier than it was to do.

We ultimately came up with a list of personal values, beliefs, and feelings that we had and wanted to see in the recruits. That exercise took about 8 hours over a few days to finally complete. It was a one-time exercise.

We used the results of that 8 hours for every single new hire. And never hired the wrong candidate again.

We got to that point by starting with our WHY are we in business. Then going through why we were such a good organization for others, what responsibility and respect we gave to all employees and why joining our company would be a great idea. At least for a couple of years. Listen, we did not have a gold-plated benefit program, and we did not pay at the high end of the pay scale. Many companies were paying more money with better benefits packages than us.

Here’s what happened.

My team took the hiring of people very seriously. More seriously than me. They joyfully and carefully took the conversational approach rather than the full-on interview approach.

They always presented me with the top three candidates. I successfully cleared my desk of stuff I did not relish and spent my time answering the interviewee’s questions. As a result, our overall staff turnover rate fell from 30% to 1% within two years.

Today, a good chunk of that work can be shortcutted with incredible software tools. So the time of every person involved in the process can be shortened. The secret to success, though, is still with personal values.

Against your WHY statement or your Big Hairy Audacious Corporate Goal, define the business and personal values that will get you there faster. But, again, that is a group exercise, not something YOU do in isolation.

Once set, your odds of successful hires dramatically improve. Your engagement will naturally go thru the roof, your LEADERSHIP prowess will be respected, and your team will deliver extraordinary results.

Everything good always starts with Values. Wanna chat about it?


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