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Did you know that most companies hire for skills but fire for culture? This could be the leading contributor to your employee retention problems. Annelle and Josh explain the importance of hiring for culture FIRST.

Hired for Skill but Fired for Culture | Episode 70

Welcome to the epic company culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney will give you the business leaders, HR professionals and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

JOSH [0:16] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney, and welcome to the epic company culture podcasts. This is season two, where we talk all about hiring and I am joined with my co host and Annelle Barnett.

ANNELLE [0:27] Hello, how are you?

Culture Mismatch

JOSH [0:28] Doing well, thanks for coming in.  Alright, so today’s topic is hiring for skill, but firing for culture. So what are we talking about here hiring for skill, but firing for culture?

What happens most often is people will get a resume and they’ll do some skills based matching on that resume, see if they’re a good fit and bring them in for interview processes. So, they’ll get that going. When they get that going, they’re looking at the skills of that person.

The challenge we have is when we look at why a lot of people are let go fired. They’re often let go for a culture match.

I had a marketer that wasn’t that good at social media management. I’m like, they’re not good at using Hootsuite so I’m going to fire them, right? Yes,  it’s usually that there’s some sort of culture mismatch in the way that they work. They don’t show up on time. Their works are not thorough and some other small item.

How do we get to the bottom of that? How do we get to the bottom of that in the interview process? What are some ways that you’re seeing people?  I guess digging into the skill side? What are some of the flaws in the skills based hiring that are causing people to hire for skill, but fire for culture?

Skills are not Enough

ANNELLE [1:46] Well, I think that there are a lot of people that can check every box of the skill sets. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the most aligned for the position. Often when I’m hiring or working to hire people for my clients, I really like to get to know my clients first.

There have been situations where I’ve gone to lunch with the entire team, or I’ve got on a mat with each individual on the team. So that I would really understand what the culture of the organization is.

[2:22]  I can use use those information. I use my awareness of the types of individuals and the types of culture that they have in order to determine if the person that I’m interviewing matches that culture.

JOSH [2:35]  What are the different styles that you normally see. So if you go to lunch with somebody, it’s kind of a or b. They can be super expressive and collaborative, or they’re a little quiet.  What are the different ways that you gauge that?

Startup to Big Organization

ANNELLE [2:49] There are situations where potentially in a startup, and it’s kind of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of culture and environment where everyone’s just trying to get everything done every day.

Now, if somebody came from an organization like Coca Cola, or Chick fil a, or a larger fortune type of company that has lots of processes and lots of documented standard operating procedures, then they’re going to really struggle probably in the fly by the seat of your pants startup kind of environment. So, I’m often feeling for that kind of situation, and whether that person is going to be driven crazy by the organization, or whether they will thrive in that kind of organization, because they really like change. And they like for things to move fast and like the challenge of that kind of environment.

JOSH [3:55] Yeah, in the startup world there are lots of pivots, right? There are lots of lessons learned and epiphany that happened. You’re meeting with clients, and you’re doing customer discovering all kinds of things like that. One day you could have been, as a marketer, working on something for a week or a month, and then realize that you gotta dump it and go a different direction, right? That’s pretty challenging for some people.

What’s Your Work Style

ANNELLE [4:16] If you simply ask the question of what’s your work style, what type of environment do you enjoy working, and then you’ll often find out if they’re going to love that kind of environment or they’re either going to hate it. It can truly be one or the other? If  it doesn’t align with who that individual is.

JOSH [4:38] We look at two different factors on during our hiring process. One of them is actually a question where we asked them what type of work environment they’re looking for. And sometimes that’s telling, sometimes it’s not. Then, we also look at their resume as to what types of roles they’ve been in, and where they were at. What we found is the combination of the two.There is a great filter in that.

[5:00] If they were asked what type of work environment they want, we’ve actually had people like Oh, I like large companies, big environments, and all of these things that are not us, right?  So, we’re able to filter them out. That digs the question for me of why they applied for the job. Maybe they didn’t look us up or do the diligence early enough, because they’d figure out we’re not an enterprise company by our size.

Then, we also look at the resume because what we generally find are people that are working in enterprise environments are used to that support system. They’re used to having the name, the speed at which things change. Things are a little bit slower that I have to be more methodical on that.

Speed Check

That’s just a mismatch in our organization. We could hire them, because they have the skills for what we need but they’re eventually going to be let go. We’ve actually had to unfortunately let go of people in my past organization. Where we found out that they were really used to a different speed, a different set of infrastructure around them all kinds of other attributes that we didn’t have.

ANNELLE [6:02] Often the candidate doesn’t even know that this environment won’t work well for them. So, they provide answers to questions because they’re potentially open to different scenarios and opportunities. But as the hiring manager, as a recruiter, it’s kind of our job to understand whether they’re really going to be the right fit for both them and for the company.

[6:31] Because our job is to match the people with the role. If the other side turns out to not work, then our job wasn’t done. The individual candidate is interesting because each candidate is always going to have a different answer. If they’re asked that question, like you said, what type of work environment do you like? And they give you the big company answer, but then they were there being interviewed for a small company than them. Their answer may change for that kind of scenario.

[7:13] It’s our job to understand really where the truth is, I guess.  

The Resume

JOSH [7:20]  We back that up by looking at the resume, the resume tells the tale, right. These are the companies they work for, these are the size these, these are the types. That’s in a lot of ways what they’ve gotten used to. In some respects, it can be a culture shock either way.

If you’ve worked for enterprise companies for 5 or 10 years and you go into a startup, it’s going to be a culture shock, and vice versa, right? If you’ve worked startups for five or 10 years then you go into a fortune 100 or an enterprise, it’s a totally different ball game. That’s gonna be a big mismatch.

I like what you said about some people just don’t know, right? They worked in those environments for a long period of time. They’re like, “well, I did it here, why can’t I go do it?” Until they actually do it, do they discover like a lot of the challenges that come about in making that switch.

Local to International

ANNELLE [8:11] Actually, I am an example of this. In one of my roles earlier in my career, I shifted from all an all domestic marketing company to an international company. Of course, in the interview, they asked if I had international experience. I said no.  I wouldn’t lie. But my follow up was that marketing’s the same everywhere. I can figure this out, this is fine. This is not a big deal. But it turns out, it’s actually very different. It’s very different both culturally and the way that that you approach the tactics and the strategy of marketing. So, I very quickly learn that there is a big difference. But in the interview process, my perception was that there really isn’t a difference. But it turns out that there is.

JOSH [9:07] What other places have you seen that there was a major difference? We talked about kind of startup versus enterprise, local versus or international, are there any other areas that you can think of that have been a pretty big difference in the way that things operate from a marketing sense?

Sales Driven to Marketing Driven

ANNELLE [9:25] I think anything that might be like a very sales driven organization versus a very marketing driven organization. There are different types of companies that sales really is the primary thing and marketing is totally an enablement vehicle for sales. Then, there are other companies where marketing is the primary go to market strategy.

So, if you’ve worked in primarily driven marketing organization, and then you move to a primarily sales driven organization, that’s definitely going to be a struggle for that individual. They may not realize that until they get in there. So again, it’s  my job as the recruiter and as the matchmaker to make sure that they actually understand the kind of environment is and see if that is going to align for them or not.

JOSH [10:19] Got it. So, there’s lots of different questions that go into making sure that a person’s fit for the role to ensure that you’re hiring the right person. You’re not going to have to fire them later based on some sort of mismatch, right?

ANNELLE [10:19] Exactly.

JOSH [10:30] Well, we would like you to think about the questions you’re asking. What is the culture of your organization? What’s the culture of your marketing organization? Is it sales driven, or marketing driven. How that impacts how you hire and whether you’re hiring for skill and firing for culture or if you’re retaining the best talent you possibly can. Thank you.

[10:54] Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the epic company culture podcast with Josh Sweeney.

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