Why Hiring for Behaviors Helps with Culture Fit

culture fit, behaviors, values

What do you look for when hiring new leaders or team members for your organization? Do you look at skills or at attitude, or both?

Should you be looking at something else?

In this short episode of my Culture Leadership Charge video series—this one crafted exclusively for Culture University—I shed light on the challenges with hiring for attitude.

Hiring for skills is quite common. That approach has served organizations well in the past. If you know what demonstrated skills are needed for maximum performance, hiring for those skills makes sense.

How do you hire for attitude? Attitude is, by definition, an “internal” dynamic – it is invisible to anyone other than the candidate. A candidate might say all the right things and present a pleasant demeanor during the interview; yet, what they present might not be an accurate depiction of how that player will interact with colleagues in the workplace every day.

So, let’s set attitude aside. What if we don’t look for attitude, at all, but we look for behaviors—behaviors that are consistent indicators of a candidate’s beliefs and actions about teamwork, cooperative interaction, kindness, supporting peers, and the like?

That’s a very effective approach. And, just as you must define what demonstrated skills are needed for maximum performance, you must define what demonstrated values are needed for maximum citizenship in your work environment.

Once those values are identified and defined, you need to specify exactly what behaviors will ensure that everyone—leaders, team members, customers, everyone—is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction.

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. ~Roy E. Disney

For example, one recent culture client defined their integrity value as “acting with virtue, sincerity, and truthfulness.” Their valued behaviors for integrity include “I am honest and do what I say I will do,” “I take responsibility for my actions,” and “I learn from my mistakes.”

When you specify your desired “great citizen” behaviors with measurable, tangible statements like these, everyone knows what is expected of them. Their attitude is not relevant. They can choose to embrace your defined valued behaviors or not. Leaders must not only demonstrate these behaviors themselves but then hold everyone accountable for those values expectations, just as you hold everyone accountable for performance expectations.

With values defined in behavioral terms, your interview process can focus on the behaviors you want in great corporate citizens. Your new hires will fit into your desired culture very well and quickly get up to speed, performance-wise and values-wise.

What did I miss? How can you add to this conversation? I welcome your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris provides high-impact keynotes, executive briefings, and executive consulting. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn how to craft workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution in Chris’ latest book, The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace. His blog, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos can be found at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Yuvarajah

    Very true. Values are paramount drivers that feed and shape the internal dynamics called attitudes. Attitudes in turn are demonstrated and manifested through behaviours at work. The big challenge is with saying vs doing. To mirror the professed value statements and actual behaviours is difficult. Often, even the structure, system, process and activities are design in contrast to the message the values convey. Example, we say teamwork is valued but the way our reward system works promote individualism !. We say trust is valued yet the boss micro-manages everything, telling exactly what to do. We claim to value diversity yet discriminate certain category of folks. We say feedback is welcomed yet don’t act responsibly. If we tackle the behavioral waste, we can build a better culture. Having an awesome workplace culture attracts and grows positive behaviors. Values belief, attitude, behavior and actions lead to results. It’s operates in cause and effect relationship cycle.