The FIT Blog

Hire the Human, Train the Talent

Do you remember this question: Is it a fantasy draft or is it talent acquisition? The takeaway from this post is that we win at work when the employee and organizational values match. Culture fit is as important – if not sometimes more important – than hard skills. It turns out that a Super Bowl-winning quarterback agrees. 

Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, recently spoke at SHRM’s Inclusion 2019 event about becoming a leader of professional athletes as well as a founder of a non-profit organization. He talked about leading through actions, and said, “As a quarterback, people will see what you do a lot more than they hear what you say.” He emphasized the importance of being willing to do the same work you’re asking others to do, including the soft, squishy parts of work and leadership like empathy and encouragement.

But here’s the real juice: Drew Brees is on board with values-based hiring. When evaluating candidates for positions at the Brees Dream Foundation, he is most interested in “strong work ethic, integrity, and character”. He looks to hire talent that will drive a healthy organizational culture, then train for the hard skills. And he’s not the only one. 

Jennifer Liu with CNBC writes, “More than 60% of employers are now willing to hire applicants with less than the required work experience”. Instead of counting years of experience or requiring a specific degree or certification, companies are focusing on transferable skills and trainability. As the nature of work evolves – and talent wars continue – organizations are reevaluating essential job duties and required KSAs to determine what’s really critical to have on day one and what can be trained during or after onboarding. 

Across all industries – professional sports included – the definition of top talent is changing. There is more emphasis on intangible qualities than ever before. Technical skills and experience remain highly important, just with the added dimension of matched values. It’s a people-first mentality. Hire the human, then train the talent. 

Is it a Fantasy Draft or is it Talent Acquisition?

Do you know the difference between a snake draft and an auction draft in fantasy football? (If you said no, help is here!) Most people who play have a pretty solid preference for one or the other. I’m here with the unpopular opinion that it doesn’t matter which style you use (gasp!). When you draft a player to your team, snake or auction, what matters is whether that player’s skills match up with your needs in the most strategic, beneficial way. 

You know what fantasy football really is? Talent acquisition. Recruitment and selection. When we evaluate a pool of candidates for a job, we’re looking at both on and off the field performance to find the best match. We’re looking at professional work experience combined with intangibles like work ethic and integrity. We know that the most successful players – on the field and in the office – have equally strong hard and soft skills. So how do we objectively measure fit and decide who to draft? 

We measure fit by matching values. We assess current employees’ values, and then we use that data to develop an Organizational Culture Profile (OCP). Candidates then take the same assessment, and like magic, we have data to tell us which candidates we should draft for our team based on their preferred OCPs. 

Jason Mutarelli with Accounting Today talks about using data to make fantasy football decisions in much the same way he approaches his own professional accounting work. We know data is critical to decision-making in the workplace, but we can’t figure out how to use objective data when making arguably the most important decision of all: who to hire. 

Fantasy football is about having fun and flexing your strategy muscles. It’s about objectively evaluating individual technical skills and team-based performance to build a roster of players that will bring you a win each week. Don’t we want a roster of players that will bring us wins in the workplace? We win at work when our values match. Start assessing values and you just might win the league!  

Get To Know Your Values On A First Name Basis

I first heard the idea of getting to know your values on a first name basis from Carley Sime, a Forbes contributor, in her January 2019 article about values. Now I’m hooked. 

Let’s think about it like this: Do you have a best friend whose first name you don’t know? Of course not. We know our best friends very well. We know where they grew up, where they live now, where they went to school, the names of their family members (including their pets!), where they work, where they play… It is unfathomable that we would not know the first names of our best friends, yet I bet we don’t know the first names of our values, our most intimate aspects of our own selves. 

Carley Sime says our values are our “puppet masters”, guiding every decision we make. If our values are guiding our decisions and our behaviors, shouldn’t we be able to call these values by their names? 

So how do we do that? Sime goes on to reference a simple exercise that helps establish your baseline values. I did this exercise myself and came up with Knowledge, Balance, Kindness, Contribution, and Fun. As much as I’ve studied values and taken values-based assessments, this is the first time that I’ve ultimately selected “Contribution” as the first name for the family of workplace values I always associate with each other. Contribution, for me, includes work values like resourcefulness, commitment, accountability, and responsibility. I can honestly say that calling my collective professional values by a new first name, Contribution, is enlightening!  

There is a HuffPost article from 2013 that talked about the dangers of having too many values on your list. Robert Dilenschneider said that when employees start to build a master list of values, “they fail to prioritize. A ‘shortlist’ of values is far more useful in putting the workplace back on track.” The above exercise helps us do exactly that – create a “shortlist” – as does the MatchFIT Assessment. It’s like friends and best friends. We have friends who are important to us, and we then have our best friends. 

We prioritize time with our best friends. We should prioritize our values in the same way. Let’s get to know our values by their first names. 

Stop Saying “It Just Wasn’t A Good Fit” 

Do you ever find yourself saying “It just wasn’t a good fit” about why someone leaves your company, voluntarily or otherwise? If I happen to be around when you do, I will beseech you to answer, “But what does that mean?!”, with big cartoon question marks dancing around like a scene out of Ally McBeal.  

What do we really mean when we say someone isn’t a good fit? I think it’s simple. It comes down to unmatched values. People have distinct work and life values just as they have unique DNA. I think DNA is to family what values are to the workplace. Values are out there being ignored, staying unmatched, and both employees and employers end up saying, “It just wasn’t a good fit”. We can do better. 

In 2016, SHRM reported on the work of David Naylor and Ryan Naylor (no DNA match there) in the realm of values-based hiring. My favorite quote came from Ryan: “Clearly, values and cultural fit have an impact on talent acquisition and talent management that lasts far beyond the hiring process.” Retweet! But this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Debi Wolfe, SVP People, Culture, & Strategy at Hays, brought us forward with her 2018 Forbes article where she powerfully said:

It’s time to go beyond “company fit” — which notably can lead to hiring people who look and sound like the majority of the company, potentially hurting goals related to diversity and inclusion. Hiring for matching values, rather than corporate fit, lets you find employees who mirror the way you think about your brand and your core concerns. 

Yes, Debi! Matching values can help you find talent that is 1) more likely to be invested in the work and the team, 2) more likely to care about the overall success of the company, and thus, 3) more likely to stay. If you can find a way to look at candidate values independent of knowing whether those candidates “look and sound like the majority of the company”, you can reduce bias and end up with a more diverse candidate pool. Further, when you inevitably end up with two candidates with equally strong hard skills, matching values can help you objectively evaluate the soft skills dimension. That’s what we believe at MatchFIT. 

The MatchFIT Assessment is an Organizational Values Questionnaire, developed from research on Organizational Culture, that allows us to not only capture an organization’s culture profile (company DNA) but also identify candidates who naturally fit into that culture based on their own unique values, known to us as Workplace Culture Preferences (candidate DNA). MatchFIT is a workplace DNA test. 

So let’s start matching values, and stop saying “It just wasn’t a good fit”. With MatchFIT, #fithappens. 

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