How To Hire The Right People: Define Your Core Values

By: Ron Patulski

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Can you afford to throw away thousands of dollars on the wrong hire? According to U.S. Labor statistics, the average bad hire cost can equal 30% of that individual’s annual earnings.

In a previous blog, Kate discussed how to lead your people. For the next few weeks, we will be diving deep into how to set yourself up to hire the right people. We will position you to be an effective leader by attracting people who will fulfill the purpose and vision of your organization and exemplify your company experience. You likely have heard the saying “Hire slow, fire fast.” Consider that your success is not about the speed at which you hire, it’s about the way you hire. Having had the opportunity to be actively involved in hiring 2-3 people per month consistently over a seven-year period at one point in my career, I’ve experienced hires that ultimately did not work and hires that were right on the mark. As a result of this experience, and as a Neuro-Performance Business Coach for almost 25 years working with many different clients in a multitude of industries, this approach evolved.

In the investment world, they say “you make your money when you buy”. Similarly, consider you set yourself up for high-level business success when you hire what we’ll call the “right people” and you follow a process to ensure you do. So who are the “right people”?

The “right people,” are those that fit the characteristics and match the competencies that will allow them to excel in their role within the organization.

These characteristics and competencies fuel synergy and productivity in any organization and are the lifeblood of a company’s customer and cultural experience. They are essential to move your vision forward and accomplish your organizational goals. When these two areas are clearly defined, never compromised, and a process is followed, it provides the foundation to train, develop, and lead to high-level success. These two areas are the first two steps and once you create and follow your process, you will ensure high-level hiring success.

Hiring The Right People

Part 1: Define and Document Your Core Values

The last 25 years as a Business Performance Coach have led me to the conclusion that smart, talented leaders can make significant decisional errors when they ignore or compromise the importance of the qualities that create the fiber of their culture.

Your organization’s core values are comprised of the characteristics or traits that are the foundation for what your culture stands for. They define the experience you provide to those who work with you and those that are served by your organization. They exemplify your organization’s values and beliefs through qualities we commonly recognize as empathy, responsibility, grit, creativity, growth, teamwork, and communication.

Although training might help your organization breed these characteristics, it is not a sure-fire way of guaranteeing they are developed. An organization benefits much more by focusing on hiring those who already possess these attributes. Focus on hiring attributes and training skills. It is far easier to train a skill set than it is to develop an attribute.

Other business owners have realized this through their experience. For example, one company owner was interviewed by Forbes Magazine years ago and was asked directly why all their employees were so “nice”. The company owner responded with the perspective that it wasn’t something that came from training. The recruitment process in the company ensured that ‘’nice’’ people were hired, so the process simply allowed them to hire “nice” people.

From a hiring process perspective, it is less risky to have good interpersonal skills present in employees than to develop them. It is also cost-effective since no investment of time and money is required for the training and development of an aspect already present in an employee.

Some leaders have resorted to attempting to develop nice people within their organization. They believe that as leaders, this is a task they can undertake to change a person’s disposition. This stance, more often than not, has significant adverse results and only results in an organization underperforming.

Several years ago, a talented, gifted client of ours, who owned an exceptionally productive, profitable business, compromised in this important area. She valued empathy, yet believed it was something that could be developed. She found a candidate with the credentials, experience, and a proven track record. This candidate, however, did not demonstrate a high level of empathy yet she decided to compromise and risk having this quality initially present.

Initially, he appeared to be a great hire. Unfortunately, this was a high-level position that provided the leadership reigns to a significant part of the organization. As it turned out, he was much more transactional in his leadership style. Her leadership style and the company’s leadership culture were intentionally people first (relational) and then transactional to drive productivity.

Her company was a highly productive, profitable company driven by a relational, people approach. His approach was transactional to drive results. It lacked both the empathy and relational components of the company’s culture. Needless to say, the negative impact of this hire was significant in just 60 days, leading to the resignation of 3 important, long-term employees.

This step is crucial. It’s so foundational and fundamental, it’s tribal in nature. These qualities are the energy and spirit of your organization. They are the ingredients of the concept, “your vibe attracts your tribe”. Understandably, this is important because your tribe provides your internal and external company experience. Compromising on the core foundation that your organization is built upon can undo all the effort and good work that you’ve put in.

How To Define Your Companies Core Values

Patrick Lencioni has done incredible work in the field of organizational health. In his book, The Advantage, he says to “think of your core values as a few behavior traits that are inherent in the organization. They lie at the heart of your organization’s identity and do not change over time”. To identify these, consider the questions below.

  1. Identify your best employees. Write a list of everyone who has ever worked within your organization (past or present) that exemplifies what is best about your company. If you are an individual or someone who has not yet had any hiring success, consider getting a values elicitation so that you can use your individual values to drive the vision of your company. If you need guidance in this area, click here.
  2. Identify their best qualities. What is it about them that you admire? Write an exhaustive list of any qualities that you can think of.
  3. Identify the people who were not a fit. What qualities were they missing? Please note, sometimes it is easier to identify what made them a problem and then ask yourself, what is the opposite of that trait? For example, they did not push themselves to go above and beyond. The opposite of that might be hunger or drive. Add all of these values you are looking for to your list.
  4. For an organization to be truly aligned, you as a leader must also embody the core values. Go through your list and cross off anything that you do not truly embody or are not truly passionate about.
  5. Choose your top 5 Values. These are your non-negotiables, your deal-breakers. Remember, no one is going to be everything. We are looking for the right person for your organization; those non-negotiable values that they must possess in order to be successful within your organization. Circle these, write them down on an index card near you, and keep them close. We will use these to finalize your hiring process to ensure that you hire someone who is a cultural fit.

No potential hire can be considered until you know your core values. Most companies have high turnover and struggle to lead because they have not taken the time to define their core values. In our next article, we will be identifying the next step in your hiring process to ensure you find someone who is not just a cultural fit, but also someone who will be successful within the specific role. Remember, hiring is not just about finding a cultural fit, it is also about making sure that person is in the right seat.


Ron Patulski