Monday, April 17, 2017

Three Steps to Hiring Cultural Fits

Three Steps to Hiring Cultural Fits
By Miranda Nicholson, Director of HR, Formstack

Think of the perfect candidate—one whose skills and experience match perfectly with a job description. It’s hard to imagine this candidate struggling in the workplace, yet it happens all the time. Why?

Too often, companies become blinded by a resume and fail to consider cultural fit.

Whether it’s an enthusiastic extrovert who’s hit hard by feelings of isolation when working remotely, or a deep-thinking introvert who’s quickly overwhelmed by a lively open-office plan, these employees may love the work but clash with the culture.

What happens when someone’s preferences and personality traits conflict with those of their colleagues?

They might struggle to create bonds and reach important milestones, and they could become disengaged. Some may even publish negative company reviews on sites such as Glassdoor or write a book about the experience. A poor cultural fit can cost a company 50 to 60 percent of the employee’s annual salary in turnover expenses alone.

On the other hand, when you hire a candidate who is a great cultural fit, the likelihood of high levels of retention, engagement, performance, and profitability increases exponentially.

Cultural fit is a critical component of the hiring process. It’s also one of the most difficult components to master. If you’re looking to improve your hiring success rates, implement the following guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving an actively engaged workforce.
Define Your Culture Code
It’s impossible to hire for cultural fit if you can’t articulate your organization’s culture. Establishing an official culture code allows you to weave your core values into the hiring process so you can recognize when a candidate’s beliefs and behaviors align with those of your organization.

What’s unique about your company? What are your values, goals, and practices? What traits are needed to thrive? Identifying and defining these attributes and others like them will allow you to pinpoint job candidates who embrace or are willing to adapt to your environment.

The process of formally defining company culture can be as simple as a series of staff discussions and surveys or as in-depth as hiring an outside consultant. Whatever method you choose, the outcome should be the same: a firm list of cultural attributes that recruiters, supervisors and hiring managers can put to use.
Pre-Screen with Culture Code in Mind
Next, you must incorporate your culture code into the hiring process—and not just during job interviews. Vetting candidates for cultural fit should begin the moment you start reviewing resumes and applications.

You can get started by weaving culture-focused questions into your job postings and application process. Include pre-screening questions such as “What is your perfect work environment?” and “What motivates you to perform your best work?” to help candidates convey what they need to thrive. Evaluating these characteristics during the early stages of hiring allows you to be proactive about determining an applicant’s cultural fit.
Develop a Cultural Interview Process
As you move through the interview process and each job posting pool is narrowed down to a few strong candidates, make sure your interview process is infused with interactions that help ensure each new hire will adapt well to your culture.

Be sure to identify the key values and behaviors needed to be successful within your company, and develop the interview process around those needs. This creates a unique value proposition that ensures you’re hiring people who are attracted to your company and its culture.

A good cultural interview process is one that provides plenty of opportunities for both the candidate and the company’s current employees to get to know one another. Start with a peer interview in which a candidate meets several people on the team. Next, a conversation with employees outside the department can give the candidate a chance to learn more broadly about the company and the working environment. After those first two culture-focused sessions, the hiring manager and HR director should meet with the strongest candidates. At that point, each applicant and the company decision-makers should know whether a cultural fit has been found.

On paper, countless candidates can likely handle a particular job, but only a handful will do so in a way that reflects your company’s vision and values. When employees not only love the work they do but also embrace the way their company operates, great things can happen.

Miranda Nicholson is the director of HR at Formstack, overseeing the acquisition, onboarding, and retention of current and to-be Formstackers.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Managing Multigenerational Teams: Overcoming the Challenges of a Changing Workforce

By Allen Dillard

For the first time in history, organizations will soon be faced with managing four generations of workers, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. Leading and developing employees has never been conducive to a one-style-fits-all approach, and it’s about to get more complicated. Juggling the wants and needs of a group of employees spanning such a wide age range—and with such a diverse set of work requirements—will be challenging during the next decade as workers transition in and out of the workplace.

It’s not always clear for managers and human resources professionals  how to provide a work environment and benefit structure that addresses the wants and needs of each generation. Based on cultural shifts that took place within each time period, every generation carries a distinct set of attitudes, values, and behaviors. Each also has its own set of expectations, workstyle, and communication preferences—all of which influence the way work is accomplished. Flexibility will be key to effectively lead a multigenerational workplace. Managers should strive to understand the new work dynamic, anticipate the likely issues surrounding such diverse teams, and be prepared to frequently adjust management styles and strategy accordingly.

Here are three areas expected to present the biggest challenges for managers:

Leadership Positions
As baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) race to retirement, organizations face a difficult challenge in transitioning Generation X (1965-1981) and millennials (1982-1995) into executive positions and Generation Z (1996-2010) employees into the workforce. Research shows these generations have far less desire to pursue executive leadership roles than previous generations. This is not to suggest that millennials (ages 22-35) don’t want to prove themselves as leaders; in fact, according to a Deloitte survey 70 percent see themselves working independently at some point in their careers. Organizations looking to groom younger workers for leadership roles should consider alternative work environments so employees don’t feel tied down, such as flex hours, remote work options and ROWE (results only work environment). If younger generations feel they have a better work-life balance and business goals are being met, organizations should have less difficulty filling the baby boomer positions.

At the same time, there’s an opportunity to promote Gen X workers into more leadership roles. While this generation is supposedly less likely to demand attention and tout their accomplishments than millennials, their experience and loyalty make them ideal leaders who can also mentor the next generation of workers not be ready to take the helm.

Communication Styles
The difference in preferred communication styles between older and younger generations is fairly obvious and can cause serious communication breakdown among teams if not handled appropriately. According to a Gallup poll, baby boomers and Generation X prefer email and more formal communication methods with coworkers, while millennials and Generation Z prefer the instantaneous and less formal methods, such as texting, instant messaging, and social media. This difference can cause frustration from both groups as some may view the lack of formality as lack of respect, while others may see the formality of older coworkers as stuffy and unnecessary.

The key for managers is to provide options. It’s easy to adapt to employees’ preferences and requirements by providing them with the tools they need to relay information the way that works best for them. For example, unified communications solutions provide several methods of communication, such as voice calling, instant messaging, video sessions and mobile applications. Properly training employees on every tool provided is fundamental.  Managers worried about their baby boomers falling behind should not fear; according to boomer think-tank consultancy Age Wave, this group is 71 percent as likely as their younger counterparts to try new products and services, and they purchase more hardware, software, and electronics than any other generation.

A difference in values correlates with a difference in needs, and this is causing confusion among companies looking to create a benefits package—and even informal perks—that appeal to every age group.

According to a MetLife survey, more than half of employees (59 percent) say they would like their company to recommend benefits appropriate for their life stage, so managers should take this into consideration and work with HR when creating perks that are meaningful for recruiting and retaining employees. For example, an infographic from Paychex shows baby boomers value salary level, health insurance, and a retirement plan; Generation X values salary level, 401K plan with matching benefits, job security, advancement within the company, and opportunities for work-life balance; and millennials value benefits choices, paid time off, ability to work remotely, control over their schedules and a great deal of flexibility.

 The younger generations often struggle to fully understand how formal benefits play a role in overall job satisfaction, so educating this group on how benefits impact finances and day-to-day life is essential in order for them to see the value being offered. One perk that is of understood importance to millennials is the opportunity for career advancement, according to research from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Career-path development, including training and mentoring options, is often an affordable perk for companies of all sizes to offer.

In other good news, there are some shared preferences for company benefits across the generations such as flexible work options, unlimited paid time off, and various types of health and wellness perks. Whatever the benefit, getting creative with perks is one way to spark the interest of any generation. Managers should consider the generation they are trying to attract or retain, consider what life stage they are in and their values, and brainstorm benefits that may accommodate them.

While it is easy to generalize about the characteristics of each generation, there are always exceptions; not everyone fits into the mold they are assumed to fit into, and some may even find it offensive. Managers should be aware of generational differences, yet treat employees as individuals, encouraging open dialogue about their values, expectations and communication preferences. Diversity promotes creativity and innovation, but before organizations can reap those benefits they must understand how to effectively manage these groups in a way that brings out their full potential.

Allen Dillard is the CFO of Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Which Cover is Your Favorite?: The HRO Today 10th Anniversary Cover Contest

We have a big reason to celebrate: It’s been 10 years since SharedXpertise began overseeing the design and distribution of HRO Today magazine!

To honor the occasion, we want to get our readers involved—we are hosting a cover contest. Click on the link below to have a look at how the industry has changed over the past decade, and vote on your three favorite magazine covers from over the years.

We will be featuring the top cover on our May issue. As a voter, you’ll be eligible for a chance to win a free pass for you and a guest to the upcoming HRO Today Forum North America, May 1-3, 2017, in Chicago.

Click here to vote for your favorite cover!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Total Workforce Visibility

It is important for organizations to be able to take a holistic view of their entire blended (full-time and contingent) workforce on a single dashboard in real time. As contingent workers represent a greater percentage of the overall company headcount, the ability to track the entire workforce has become extremely difficult. This “gap” also opens organizations up to a multitude of risks including:
• data security breaches;
• worker misclassification;
• compliance with company policies and/or local, national and international laws; and
• general workforce management concerns.

Additionally, it severely limits the business’ ability to make informed decisions that affect profitability. According to the “2017 Workforce Compliance Report” published by WorkMarket, the contracted labor population accounts for 20-60 percent of the workforce at half of the 200 companies surveyed. Yet, approximately 23 percent of the company leaders surveyed do not know how many contractors they have and approximately 20 percent do not have easy access to contractor data.

Companies need to be able to quickly and easily understand the geographical location of their workers, what classification of workers they have, and what level of access they have (to infrastructure, like buildings and IT systems). They should also be able to understand the financial impact of each worker to the business and how the organization is effectively utilizing its workforce. Without this information, an organization could be susceptible to multiple detrimental situations. In order to help bridge this gap, organizations should consider taking three steps to ensure total talent workforce visibility:

Step 1: Partner with a Managed Services Provider (MSP). By partnering with a MSP and a Vendor Management System (VMS), companies are able to see clear budget breakdowns, and gain regular headcount reporting. This visibility and transparency significantly enhances contingent workforce management and reduces risk.

Step 2: Ensure the MSP has a strong compliance team. Their teams of experts work with suppliers to ensure candidates have the necessary compliance documents and audit each credential and certification prior to engagement. An MSP partner, such as PRO Unlimited, can provide business validation services to mitigate risk of non- employee misclassification.

Step 3: Challenge the MSP on analytics. The amount of data available now is staggering and assuming the first two steps were successfully completed, the organization should have plenty of data to use. However, having access to data is not the same as using the data to drive actionable intelligence. At PRO, they have deployed a Total Talent Solution to look at the holistic workforce (full-time employees, and all non-employee types), which is provided meaningful business intelligence to their clients.
They are able to answer a variety of questions with this data such as:

• Where are my workers? How many do we have in a given location?
• What vendors are we using?
• Are we compliant with local/national and international laws?
• Who is onsite and has access?
• Are we in compliance with company policies and procedures?
• Are we sourcing effectively?
• Where should we source for a resource and how should we set up the engagement?
• When should I start sourcing for a position?
• What is impacting talent acquisition and retention?
• Do we need to manage overtime and expenses differently?

Some leading-edge organizations are already utilizing this approach to great benefit. The war for talent is fierce and the list of financial and other risks for businesses continues to grow. Companies that elect to partner with an expert in this space will have a decided advantage knowing they that they are effectively managing their workforce and mitigating risk.

—Dustin Burgess, Vice President of Strategy, Analytics and Metrics at PRO Unlimited

Friday, February 3, 2017

Top hiring tips: from HR professionals, for HR professionals

By Miranda Nicholson, Director of HR, Formstack

Picture this: you’re looking for a new job. You hear about a new opening at a fantastic company and submit your application. You have a great interview, receive an offer, and accept it in a heartbeat.

This is an ideal scenario for a perfectly qualified candidate, but every HR professional knows there’s a lot more that goes into recruiting behind the scenes. Where do you find the perfect candidate for a role? What criteria does each individual need to meet before they receive the opportunity to interview? What interview questions will show you how they might perform as an employee? And, if they’re hired, how do you know if they’ll get along well with other employees in your organization?

With all these factors—and more—in play, it’s no wonder that hiring is one of the top HR challenges faced by human resources professionals across the globe.

To better understand how organizations overcome the hiring challenge, Formstack asked HR professionals from different backgrounds for some of their best tips on hiring the right employee for a role. They gave us some outstanding insights and advice on different pieces of the recruitment puzzle, which we narrowed down into three main takeaways:

1. Define What “Fit” Means to Your Organization

Hiring for fit is an obvious part of the recruiting process, but few organizations actually take the time to identify what “fit” means for them. To get started, Mike Bensi, advisor at FirstPerson, suggests considering these key questions:

1. What are the core values that make up your company’s culture?
2. What kind of behaviors do employees need to be successful in your organization?
3. What kind of behaviors might signify a red flag?

Don’t hesitate to brainstorm with other employees on your team or in your organization to get a strong sense of culture, success, and overall fit. Answering questions like these will help you build a unique value proposition for your company’s recruiting experience and can become a solid framework for your interview process.

2. Create an Experience that Defines Your Recruiting Brand

As a representative of your organization, Michelle Rodriguez, HR Manager for the Indianapolis Colts, says you should strive to provide the best possible experience for all job candidates in your talent pool—not just for the candidates who receive an offer. Communication and trust both play a vital role throughout the recruiting process, so it’s important to establish trust with candidates early on. If you tell a candidate you’ll follow up with them on Friday, you need to get back to them on Friday, even if you still haven’t made a decision.

Trisha Borme, talent acquisition manager at Interactive Intelligence, has found recruiting success by building a team of passionate talent professionals who designed the right process for her organization. Two major components of their process were assessing candidates’ soft skills and conducting a cultural assessment. Trisha notes that the candidate experience is very important and can make a major impact on your talent brand. Stringing candidates along without consistent communication is frustrating and unfair to them. Your recruiting brand will suffer if they share their negative impressions of your company with others. On the other hand, candidates who receive a great experience with timely and intentional communication can become advocates for your organization even if they aren’t hired.

3. Build Relationships to Expand Your Talent Pool

Even if your company has low employee turnover, it’s important to maintain a deep talent pool so that you’re prepared whenever the need for talent arises. Karin Gorman, president of the consulting division at Staff America Inc., encourages companies that struggle to find high quality candidates to reconsider their candidate sources. Building relationships with candidate sourcing organizations will help you fill your hiring funnel with candidates that have the skills and experience necessary for the job. For example, if you’re looking for a skilled graphic designer, connect with a local art college or institute. Once you establish a connection with those organizations, continue to foster the relationship through consistent communication, even when you don’t have job openings. This takes time but is absolutely worthwhile in the long run. If all else fails, consider partnering with a staffing agency that can help you fill those skilled roles.

If you continue to struggle with recruiting, take the time to identify your own personal hiring roadblocks and implement some of the above HR tips. While there’s no simple solution, putting more effort into these parts of your recruiting process is a great way to get started.

Miranda Nicholson is the Director of HR at Formstack, overseeing the acquisition, onboarding, and retention of current and to-be Formstackers.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Four Quick Fixes to Prevent Culture From Sabotaging Your Strategy

By Caleb Powers, Vice President of Sales at Palladium Group, Inc.

Over the years, Palladium has helped many organizations better align their culture and strategy to achieve the financial and social results they’re striving for. Used wisely, intangible assets such as culture provide a powerful competitive advantage, particularly in the new world of the impact economy. Increasingly, organizations must formulate strategies and implement solutions that deliver enduring social and economic benefit. In this blog post, we share the four most common culture-bound mistakes made by organiaations when it comes to strategy execution and how to fix them.

Pushing a strategy that conflicts with your culture

One of the most common mistakes that organizations make is trying to launch strategic projects that don’t align with their culture. First, be honest about what constitutes your true company culture—not what’s slapped on the wall in a poster, but how people behave every day. If your culture must change in order to implement strategy successfully, gather the leadership team to share a united message to your organization.
For example, your organization may have always focused on financial goals, but for the first time you’re looking at how you can deliver positive impact: the intentional creation and measurement of enduring social and economic value. In today’s impact economy, consumers are increasingly demanding this change, and encouraging your employees to consciously think about the company’s strategy and culture is a powerful way to inspire change.

Treating culture as an HR problem

The most fundamental resource for an impact-focused organization is its people. While culture can be managed and even transformed, it shouldn’t be treated as a “check-the-box” exercise. Often leadership will inform HR of a new change management framework and walk away. While it’s important to pursue culture in partnership with HR, all other areas in the organization should be on board to guarantee that new business principles are absorbed into the operational and social personality of an organization—ensuring culture is managed alongside strategy.
Culture is more than the culmination of your organization’s values—it’s the way individuals behave and interact, and it deserves just as much attention as your strategy.

Building a risky strategy for a risk-averse organization

How willing is your company to take risks? Understanding tolerance for risk is critical to executing your strategy effectively. When leadership teams in risk-averse organizations roll-out a drastically different vision for the future, it can be demotivating—and terrifying—for employees.

Assess your organization’s appetite for risk. Are the risks worth taking? If so, create a communications plan that presents an urgent reason why the organization should change. For people to take up a new challenge, they need to understand the potential impacts and upsides involved.

A lack of employee empowerment

When you execute your strategy, it’s important to consider your teams’ ability to make decisions and drive change. In many cases, executives may find it hard to let go, even if they’ve assigned a project manager for strategic initiatives. Individuals and project teams need to be clear about their responsibilities and decision-making abilities.

Final thoughts

Taking the first step to intentionally manage your culture alongside your strategy can be difficult, but it will lead to better results and happier employees. If you want a strategy that improves your economic and social performance, you have to be serious about changing behaviors—often those embedded deep in your culture. Getting people to change is hard, but not impossible. As the world moves rapidly into the impact economy, it will be those companies driving innovative change with their culture and strategy who will be most successful.

For more information about our strategy execution services please email Caleb Powers ( or visit our strategy capabilities page.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Aligning Values and Culture—the Undersung Secret to Success

By Catherine Rains, CPP Education Consultant, and a New MBTI® Certification Program Trainer

A successful career entails not only identifying a career that gets you excited, but also finding an organizational culture that meshes with your values. The culture of a particular company might be a product of its wider industry, or it might be unique to that organization. Either way, your “cultural fit” will have a deep impact on your success. If the fit is off, you may find yourself frequently experiencing difficulty communicating, feeling that you’re speaking a ‘different language’, while missing opportunities for promotions/rewards, and eventually experience stress and burnout (Hammer 2007). A solid cultural fit, on the other hand, will allow you to more fully engage with your work.

The kind of work that we enjoy doing is heavily influenced by our personality type preferences. However, whether or not we gel with a certain organizational culture is just as important a factor in our enjoyment and success within a work position. This will largely be determined by our values, which can also be described by our personality type. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment identifies this (Briggs Myers 1998) with the two middle letters in our four-letter type (for example, the ‘NF’ in ENFJ).  The second MBTI “letter”—either S or N—describes how we take in information. Those preferring Sensing (S) like specific, practical and tangible information, while those preferring Intuition (N) focus on the big picture, and look for connections between facts, seeking patterns and possibilities.

Contrast these to the the third MBTI “letter”--either T or F--which addresses how we make decisions. Those preferring Thinking (T) look at logical consequences, and mentally remove themselves from the situation. On the other hand those preferring Feeling (F) consider what is important to them and others involved, and mentally place themselves in the situation at question.

Connecting the dots between values and culture
The various combinations of these preferences align with workplace cultures in interesting ways. Here are a few examples:

Do you want to solve complex problems? Those preferring NT (Intuition/Thinking)  often gravitate toward professions like engineering, architecture, high-tech, research, business analysis and strategy-driven consulting, and feel at home in organizations that emphasize strategic planning and innovation.

Do you like to provide a practical service to others ? Do you like to frequently interact and collaborate with colleagues? Did you love  group projects in college? These drives are common for those preferring SF (Sensing and Feeling), who often gravitate toward healthcare, teaching, social work, travel, hospitality, non-profit and customer service. However, these days collaboration is highly prized in just about any industry and is often considered a hallmark of innovation. Therefore, you can find a company in a range of industries that pushes for a highly collaborative and interactive culture.

Do you feel a strong innate desire for accuracy and precision? Do you often base your decisions on data and numbers, or find yourself seeking out concrete numbers when learning something new? These inclinations are common for those preferring ST (Sensing/Thinking), who often feel at home in practical service-oriented industries/organizations such as finance, actuarial work, accounting, science and the military.

Do you think about the future possibilities for people, and feel the call to make a long-term and meaningful impact for humanity? Those preferring NF (Intuition and Feeling) want to make a difference, but may be more concerned with making an impact over the long term. These folks often find cultural fits in counseling, coaching, human resources, non-profits, higher education and HR, the arts, and will feel at home in purpose-driven organizations that stress internal harmony and growth.
These are of course only a few examples of how these preferences align with various workplace cultures. The more you know about yourself and your values the more sound  your decisions will be. Now, with that in mind, what do you envision as your ideal cultural fit?

*Hammer, A.L. (2007). Introduction to Type and Careers. Mountain View, California: CPP, Inc.
**Briggs Myers, I. (1998). Introduction to Type. Mountain View, California: CPP, Inc.