If Goldilocks walks into your company for the first time, will she think your company is too cold (where she can’t be seen for her value), too hot (where she doesn’t feel like she will fit in) or just right (inclusive)?
Would she think your company is too big (where she won’t be heard), too small (where she may be micromanaged) or just right (where she can be a part of something that is exciting to her)?
If she met your leaders, would she think their style was too soft, too hard, or just right?
With the great resignation happening, a lot of organizations are having to consider how their culture is perceived by the talent they want to attract. While many people are reevaluating their careers, employees are looking to join companies where they feel valued and they know their work makes a difference. It is extremely important, now more than ever, for employees in an organization to know what the company is working toward and how they fit in. So, it is equally important that companies are transparent on how they value their employees individually and as a team.
Do you know how your culture is perceived outside of your company’s walls? This all starts by evaluating your “cultural intelligence”. Having a culturally intelligent organization starts with an internal audit of your organizations underlying biases (let’s face it, we all have them). The second step is to look inward and determine the branding your company is putting out to attract talent and how that exemplifies the current culture. This helps to hire confidently and onboard like a champ. So how can this be done?
Step One: Culture Acceleration
Cultural intelligence is more than knowing there are cultural changes in the world today and trying to adapt to them. Cultural acceleration is actually determining what differentiates your organization from being attractive or unattractive to talent. It also determines whether your organization is inviting or repelling to the people that will best fit in your company.
To assess where you stand, there are many things that can be looked at. Two key areas to start with are looking at what your organizations leadership style is and also take a deeper look at potential biases that might be happening within the organization.
It sounds basic, but just like Goldilocks we want to go where we are welcomed and know we have the ability to feel comfortable.
Looking at how the company’s leadership style will help to determine who is going to fit right in. The types of things I have been asked by candidates are:
Does leadership mentor me in the areas I still need to learn more in?
Will the company’s leaders allow me to grow into new responsibilities?
Do the leaders feel no one can do it better then themselves or am I allowed to make decisions or fix my own mistakes?
Do the leaders adapt as they learn from their people or is it their way or the highway?
Will the leaders respect me by respecting work and life boundaries?
And there are many more, but this is a good place to start to assess who will be successful.
As the topic of unconscious bias gets talked about more and more, it’s known that unconscious biases are outside our conscious understanding and that we all have biases.
They essentially show up because of our past interpretations of the world we’ve lived in. We can only make decisions through our lifetime of referencing all the things we’ve been exposed to. We tend to interact and learn from similar repeated patterns we come in contact with. However, we forget that our experiences are unique to us and others haven’t lived life through the same lens or frames of reference as we have.
When we continue to look through one lens, we don’t see other possibilities and we keep our environment more homogenous, which unfortunately is not inclusive and tends to diminish innovation in companies. Employees are looking to join organizations where bias will not detour their career and where their differences are respected.
We can’t beat ourselves up about bias. What we can do is be sensitive and aware that there are millions of interpretations we create based off of our unique life and that others have their own interpretation based on their unique life.
Of course, the subject here is unconscious bias, not conscious prejudice which is known to the person who holds prejudice and means a person is less flexible in their acceptance of the differences in people. For those of us who have unconscious bias, it is often incompatible with our conscious values and that is why we can’t see why we have it.
Unfortunately, we react to situations based on things we have experienced and are comfortable with, using the information we have quickly accessible in our minds, not realizing how someone else will interpret the same situation.
So how do you overcome these biases to achieve cultural acceleration within your organization?
Knowledge is key. Take time to understand the different kinds of biases and where they spur from, as well as inwardly reflect on any biases you or your organization may have. These kinds of biases can be outwardly projected to employees and prospective hires which could prohibit your organization from hiring innovative talent.
Invest time into eliminating biases. There are plenty of coaches that can come into your company and dissect biases that might not be visible to you. Also, look at potential outward facing bias (what the public interprets). Look at the promotional materials/job listing that are written for your company. Look at your website as if it were a networking event. Is it inclusive, does the company show it regards its employees highly, and does it represent what you feel or see in working with the company?
Lastly, adapt. As mentioned, the world is evolving right before our eyes. Adapting to change and acknowledging how we or our organizations choose to adapt to that change can help us understand how different backgrounds can accelerate growth, the company’s revenue, and the company’s culture as an attractive culture.
Step Two: Brand to remember
Every company wants to be recognized as a brand that should be remembered. Well-known companies pay a lot of money to brand their organizations. For the majority of companies though, capital is allocated to pay for human capital that in turn will strengthen the company’s brand or unfortunately if not done right can weaken a brand.
Branding doesn't only revolve around the concepts, services, or products of the company. Companies that focus on inclusiveness from both the customer and employee perspective become more memorable to a prospective hire.
In addition, it’s important for customers, employees, and potential new hires to be aware of initiatives your company is focused on, what you company strives for or what kind of culture your company embodies.
So how do you brand your company to remember to attract talent?
Keywords. Did you know that in job descriptions, there are keywords that ward off potential hires? These are keywords that are not necessarily inclusive. Words like "competitive" are more male dominant and can prevent someone who is a female from applying from a role. The same goes for your company’s website content and marketing materials. Keywords are used by candidates when they are looking for a new role, just like customers use keywords to find your services/products.
Be aware that candidates will find ways to learn about you that you are unaware of. Popular websites like Glassdoor hold reviews about your company from current and former employees. To combat bad reviews, listen to your employees concerns when they come to you. Also, create an open dialogue with your current employees and see what you can do to help fix or ease their concerns. Concerns are typically not negative, they are opportunities, but left unheard concerns tend to be expressed publicly with a negative tone. Unfortunately, if enough people say the same thing new employees see it as fact.
Current employees are your talent brand ambassadors, make sure you know where they stand. Employees want to be valued so listening to their ideas and recognizing their contributions tends to make them excited about their work. Creating a workplace where people are heard makes for a greater ROI when it comes to employee’s productivity. It also improves the brand “strength” these employees create through word of mouth as people discuss your company outside of the workplace.
Step Three: Confident Interviewing
Being on the cutting edge requires an inclusive hiring process. Elaborating on step one, bias is not only lurking in the company’s culture it is also typically woven into the hiring process. As was mentioned, we are hardwired to make decisions based on our past experiences. When things are unknown, we may make a decision that is unfortunately biased by the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know, so we grasp onto something in our past that feels comfortable but isn’t the big picture.
When we hire, we tend to hire someone that is similar to ourselves or our organization. This can prohibit innovation. Not only that, hiring the wrong person can lead to employee turnover which costs a company thousands of dollars to deal with.
Hiring inclusively increases performance as well. Innovative talent leads to 35% more productiveness. When we hire inclusively, we accept the different ideas and thought processes that an individual may bring to our organization, which in turn create a highly innovative company.
So how do you confidently interview?
Make sure to keep an open mind when interviewing. Remember that you have biases just as much as the interviewee has. These biases can make you jump to conclusion without uncovering everything there is to know about the employee. Take your time and prepare to ask inclusive questions before going into the interview. For example, it doesn’t matter what school they went to or that they live in a certain community within your town.
Plan for enough time to get to know the potential new hire. Would you marry someone after 30 minutes and one date? Sometimes it takes multiple conversations to uncover an interviewees strength. It takes time to harness a relationship just like it does to uncover who an individual is. We highly recommend that you don’t rely on your first impressions, they are not always right and time can either validate your first impression or squash it. As a recruiter, I always take in the first impression, then I ask questions of the candidate that actually allow the person to show me a different side of themselves. I steer the conversation away from the initial impression and if they lead it back to that impression, then I know the impression is probably accurate (whether it is good or is not what aligns with the position). If the candidate doesn’t lead me to the initial impression, I learn a lot more about them.
Have a hiring team made up of several individuals. You know that saying, "everyone takes away something differently”? The same principal applies here. One person may take away something that another person on the team didn’t. A quick tip regarding multiple interviews: 1. Each person should ask the same questions. 2. A meeting should take place immediately following the last interview with the candidate to discuss how the person aligns with the skills needed, the attributes needed, and how they will drive the company’s initiative for the role they interviewed for.
Step Four: Risk Mitigation
Building a framework to minimize any kind of “relationship risk” is important. There are several risk areas after interviews have taken place. One area is to mitigate risk around derailment of offer acceptance. Sometimes a new hire will get multiple offers and it is important to communicate to make sure they are informed about why you would like them on board. When you pop the question, you want them to say yes, and you also know that if they say no it is important that they have a good feeling about your brand. Equally as important is making sure a new hire has a smooth acceptance transition and onboarding.
So how do you mitigate risk?
Build a communication plan with all candidates in the recruitment process that will minimize the derailment of offer acceptance and start building tenure before the candidate even joins. Think about the times you should communicate or check in. If there are interviews taking place, be transparent about their candidacy and timing of a decision. Make sure the process is transparent and timely. If the candidate is not a finalist, let them know as soon as the decision is made. This will ensure they will talk highly about your brand or will take your call if another opportunity opens in your company that they can fill. Selfishly for you the time you invested will be well worth it.
Make sure to be understanding of the future employee’s needs. Every new hire comes from a different place and different background. That means it is important to make the new hire feel welcome and accepted. You don’t want to make them feel like a newcomer to a desert island. It is crucial that in the beginning you create an environment that feels open and inviting for communication and new ideas. This is where a new hire can bring their contribution to the company and move the needle faster.
When you access what will strengthen your culture to accelerate growth, build a brand that is remembered, interview confidently and inclusively, and communicate transparently while mitigating risk, you will attract mission critical talent that wants to make a difference in the company. Specifically, because you set the stage to show your company is just right for them!
TLR Search helps energy, EPC, and chemical company's hiring managers gain talent market share by bringing strong diverse talent to their door, while inspiring potential new team members to picture their future possibilities; especially with hard to fill positions. We’re a woman-owned recruitment firm that partners with clients to assist them in placing decision-makers at executive levels, supervisors in functional management positions, and experienced professionals in technical roles.