Enrich Culture – Getting the Right People on the Bus

Author Jim Collins says that people who aren’t a good fit for an organization’s values figures-368751_1280and culture get “ejected like a virus”. In creating a healthy organization, one of the roles of a leader is to set the culture of a team or organization, and then do the hard work of identifying and hiring people who are a right fit for the culture. Collins goes on to say, “first, get the right people on the bus, and then get them in the right seats.” Getting the right people on the bus means bringing people onto the team who embrace and embody the organization’s purpose, history, DNA, values, etc. The gifts and skills they bring and the role they can fill is secondary. It doesn’t mean that people who aren’t a right fit are bad people, or that they aren’t called and passionate to serve God, it just means that they’re called somewhere else. When a leader makes a rushed hiring decision because they need to “plug a hole”, it does a disservice not only to the team but to the person who should be serving and flourishing elsewhere. A person who is on the wrong bus ends up disillusioned and the team ends up frustrated. The leader has to spend more time in the long run fixing the mistakes of a poor hiring decision while doing the work of re-hiring.

The book, The Leadership Pipeline offers the following insight: “Managers quickly learn how to hire people with the talent and experience to do a given job properly; they find it more difficult to hire people who ‘fit’ a company’s work values and practices.” Good hiring decisions simply take time and effort. Have more than one conversation with the person, describe (candidly…) what it would be like to serve with the organization and with their potential team, does that sound like a bus they’d like to be on for a long journey? Get to know the interviewee’s passion, gifting, vision, and the values they are already living out. Does this align with the organization? Use any relevant assessments or hiring tools and be sure to call the references, what is their appraisal of this person’s fit? Again in The Leadership Pipeline, the authors make the case that good hiring practices are a skillset that every leader should value and make time for: “The most difficult change for first-time managers to make involves values. Specifically, they need to learn to value managerial work rather than just tolerate it. They must believe that making time for others, planning, coaching, and the like [hiring…] are necessary tasks and are their responsibility. More than that, they must view this other-directed work as mission-critical…” Due diligence won’t prevent every hiring mistake, but it will prevent many of them. It will save everyone a lot of heartache and go a long way in creating a healthy team and culture. Not only that, but the right staff hired today become the “seed bed” from which tomorrow’s leaders are selected from!

In the hiring process, the leader should not only be thinking of their immediate needs, but the organization’s future. If you have a responsibility for hiring, how have you been doing in that area? What could you do better? If not, think about some of the past hiring experiences you’ve been through, what went well and what went wrong? How will you shape your philosophy in this area when given the opportunity for this leadership responsibility?

Article contribution by: Karissa Corpeny  (Director of Corporate Training, TC Southeast)