Recruiting for company culture

Recruiting for company culture

One of the things that we’ve tried really hard to do over the last couple years as a company is to recruit for culture.  When I say that, I mean we’ve spent a lot more time recently talking to people about:

  • who they are
  • what they want to do long term
  • what kind of work environment do they prefer to work in

While this is something we are looking at now more than we ever have previously, we obviously still do a technical interview where we make sure the people can do the job.  The difference is that the technical interview is really considered just a gateway at this point.  We spend a lot more time on fit then we do anything else. The first interview which is to get the person through the technical gate is usually conducted by whoever on staff is going to have them working for them or going to be working closely with them. They conduct the preliminary interview which is probably 60%- 70% can you do the job and even there, there’s a part of it that is seeing how they respond to things and seeing if they send back a thank you afterwards. As I mentioned before we are looking to see if this person will fit into our organization, will they get along with current staff, and for someone who shows basic good people skills. We want people that are considerate, the people that do all of the things that you learned in kindergarten very well. We are also concerned with what you learned in college but if you missed those lessons in kindergarten, we may not hire you just because it’s too hard to work in an environment where it’s all about solely the technical part of things.

I can see maybe in some larger environments where the technical may trump other things because it’s the thing that’s most easily measureable.  Maybe once you hit a certain size of organization some of that corporate culture is diluted. I myself don’t tend to believe that though because I’ve worked in some very large organizations that have very strong corporate cultures but I could see how it could happen. I just know that for us and for ours, one of the most important things that we look for is that ability a person shows that they’re going to be able to fit in and work with us and show that they can be a true teammate. We’re not looking for individual star performers or somebody who is solely focused on their own achievements because that doesn’t work very well in team environments.  So we engage heavily to figure out what types of things are they interested in and what are they interested in most about the types of people that they work with because you can pick up clues there about how and if they value teamwork and collaboration.  I’m very curious to hear about what other people look for as they interview and how they go about maintaining corporate culture in their own organizations.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

NY Times: Interview of Kon Leong: Interviewing for Brains and Drive

NY Times Interview of Kon Leong Interviewing for Brains and Drive

Brains and drive are the real prerequisites of future successful hires

The New York Times had a great interview with Kon Leong co-founder, president, and chief executive of ZL Technologies, an e-mail and file archiving company. One of the things that really struck me in the interview was the way that he spoke to his interviewing process. I know that in my line of work we spend a lot of time trying to identify people who are “great fits” for the job. In our case, this often means Systems Engineering and other technical backgrounds. I thought it was interesting that he never once mentioned this in his coverage of his interview process. He was truly focused on what that person wanted and where they wanted to be. Basically, he said he was looking for people with “brains and drive” because those are the real prerequisites for the job. I don’t know that we will completely do away with our vetting for technical skills but the interview definitely made me re-think some of what we emphasize.

We have lucked into some great people that only made it onto our team because they came recommended by someone we respected or we had a chance to work with them before hiring them. It makes me wonder how many great candidates we miss because they don’t fit the precise technical background we are looking for in most of our positions. In fact some of our positions do require very specific technical skills. However, we look for these technical skills across a far broader number of roles than we probably need to and for every role in our company the most important skills or prerequisites are really those he mentions, drive and brains. As long as you have those we can probably teach you the rest, without them it doesn’t matter what type of technical chops you have—you won’t be successful.

In short he asks a lot of soft skill questions, which makes me think of the blog post I wrote about the “5 skill areas needed to transform your organization,” which includes personal productivity as one of those areas of focus. Kon Leong broadens the lens to focus in on the core beliefs, work ethic, and raw materials a person is bringing to the job. He also focuses on their ability to think outside the box and make their own judgments. These are critical skills in today’s business world because so much of the work that we do is fluid in nature. Technical experts and other specialists are becoming rarer except in the largest organizations as middle management shrinks and the day-to-day business of doing business changes to accommodate the rapid pace of innovation and evolving operating environments. Kon Leong seems very focused on getting people who can evolve, scale, and make their own decisions—perfect for the rapidly changing environment I describe in Why do I need to “Transform” my organization?

Here are some of the specific questions Kon Leong mentions using in the NYT article in interviews:

  • I would want to know your goals for the job. Is it money? Learning? Fulfillment?
  • How willingly do you accept stuff, and how willing are you to question things?
  • How creative are you in finding your own answers?
  • Are you willing to learn from your mistakes? Do you do that automatically?
  • Are you willing to set the bar higher?
  • Are you able to deal with failure? Can you bounce back from it?

What do you think about this sort of open ended approach to interviewing? Where do you focus your questions within interviews?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Dale Meyerrose: Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Approach

This is the second video in the MB&A Executive Series. It is part two of an interview with Major General Dale Meyerrose on a top-down vs. bottom-up approach to organizational transformation.

Below is the transcript of this video:

Josh: Thanks for being here Dale. When managing change you often hear about a top down approach or a bottom up approach, from your experience which do you think is more effective and do you have strong feelings about how transformation should be approached in this regard?’

Dale: I have very strong feelings and beliefs about that. No change can take place without leadership and where that leadership comes is very very important. So when you’re looking at organizations where you’re defining the what and the why, the higher up the more top down that type of leadership needs to come. When you’re talking about transforming things about the how and the when that will tend to be from a bottom up. Again I’ll give you two concrete examples one from each and again it is important to realize that the leadership comes from different places based upon where the motivation comes from. So a top down is the creation of US northern command and the creation of vector national intelligence. That is clearly a top down. There was a blank United States government that we needed new organizations to encompass new missions and to completely create something to fill a void. That is clearly a top down. It starts with what are we going to build and why do we want to. And that goes along with my pattern that says that it is more important in that instance that the leadership comes from there. But when you’re talking about the how and the when the example I’ll give you has to do with when I was in the Director of National Intelligence. I think one of the transformational things we did in the intelligence community to share information was the creation of a tool or mechanism if you will, called Intellipedia. Intellipdia took the idea of social networking that was embodied by Wikipedia and in fact brought it about with the intelligence community. The thing that is important about this instance from the bottom up was that we didn’t get the programming to do this. In essence we took 5000 or so brand new analysts in the community that would probably be classified as 20 somethings or 30 somethings and created a venue by which they increased the collaborative share of information across the intelligence community and so again its important when you’re looking at change management or transforming organizations are you talking about the motivation for the what and the why that needs to be top down, when you talk about the how and when that tends to be coming from up the middle or from the bottom up as it were.

Josh: Thanks Dale. For those of you interested in hearing more from Dale be sure to check out our next video where we talk to the General about some methods and processes he’s found useful in managing change for organizations. Again I’m Josh Millsapps and thanks for watching this episode of MB&A’s executive series.

For the rest of the this interview, click on the following links:

Dale Meyerrose: Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast

Dale Meyerrose on Organizational Transformation, Part One

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Dale Meyerrose on Organizational Transformation, Part One

Today’s post is part of the MB&A Executive Series: On Organizational Transformation. We will be running this series on Thursdays through the holiday season starting with the Honorable Dale Meyerrose, Major General, U.S. Air Force retired. Dale Meyerrose is president of the MeyerRose Group, LLC, a company that consults with a wide range of business, government, and academic organizations on strategy, business planning, technology, education, and executive development issues. He is an associate professor at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University. He is also the President and Chairman of the Board for the Air Force Historical Foundation, Trustee for the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcon Foundation, advisor to the U.S. Air Force Heritage Program, and on the board of directors for the Wireless Grids Corporation.

In this first post we will provide a brief introduction to Dale’s experience with organizational transformation and insight into the breadth of his transformation experience. Please be on the lookout for next Thursday’s edition of the MB&A Executive Series: On Organizational Transformation when we ask Dale his feelings on leading transformation from a top down or bottom up effort.

MB&A Executive Series: On Organizational Transformation (Transcript)

Josh: I know that during your time in the Air Force, government, and working in the private sector, that you’ve had some experience with organizational transformation; that you’ve been involved with some organizations that needed to change, or wanted to change to meet evolving requirements.  Can you kind of give a broad brush on that and some of the outcomes you’ve experience over time?

Dale: Sure. I think it’s important to realize that organizational change comes in many forms.  Whether you want to start a new organization, deactivating an old organization is also part of change management; in addition to either rejuvenating an existing organization or changing the mission of an existing organization.  And I’ve had experience with all 4 scenarios. The ones that are probably most dramatic probably have to do with when I was in the Air Force. I was one of the senior officers responsible for deactivating the United States Space Command and transferring that mission to a completely different organization.  At the same time I was the first general officer assigned to creating a new organization called US Northern Command which had the responsibility after 9-11 of providing Homeland Defense support to the country.  The other element that goes along with this is companion element of transformation change, was as I stated earlier, I was the first chief information officer for the intelligence community which entailed creating a new bureaucracy as at work a new organization within the United States government to oversee intelligence organizations.  Additionally when I hired out to the corporate sector I was given the opportunity to build a brand new business from scratch.  All the way from creating a mission, hiring people, organizing the processes setting up the profit and loss situation as it were in a corporation.  Additionally in the academic arena I have had the pleasure and the honor of creating new courses, new lines of study and just recently been given the opportunity to create a professional certificate awarding program for cyber and cyber security.  So when you’re looking at transformation which I think is very very important given that range of experience to realize that transformation comes in many sizes and shapes and forms.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.