March 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

Want A Great Culture? Make Your Values Actionable – Part 1

want a great culture-Part 1

Want A Great Culture? Make Your Values Actionable – Part 1

New Braintrust Core Values Graphic

So you have a great set of authentic values, now what? It’s not enough to simply list your values and hang them on the wall. If you do this they will be meaningful for a moment and then that moment will pass. Without action your values will grow dusty and less meaningful over time. In this series, we are going to examine ways to make your values actionable so that they are at the forefront of developing and protecting your values.

Part 1 – Hire and Fire by Values

You have heard the phrase… “One bad apple can spoil the bunch”. I am sure you have met someone who just didn’t seem to belong; this individual was probably disruptive, un-productive, and generally a drag to be around. It’s probably not their fault per se; they should never have been hired as they are not a good cultural fit for the organization. So how do we prevent these cultural miss-matches from happening in the first place? We develop interview questions to tease out cultural fit from the start.

First let’s look at what makes for a good interview question… A lot of times people answer interview questions with generic statements about what they would do hypothetically. For example, you ask, “Do you like to have fun?” and they answer “”. While not foolproof, the adage “past performance, predicts future behavior” is one of our strongest allies when interviewing. To get at a past behavior it’s good to ask questions that lead to a STAR answer:

  • Situation – The specific situation they were in, “I was meeting with the CEO of the company on January 15th …”
  • Task – They may not describe the situation, instead they may discuss the task they did, “I was delivering a presentation to the CEO to implement a new idea I had…”
  • Action – The blow-by-blow of the events as they unfolded, “During the last half of my presentation the CEO stopped me cold and directly asked me how soon I could implement my idea.”
  • Result – What specifically happened because of the action, “Over the next 3 months I implemented my idea… we increased sales by 20% and decreased customer delivery time by 1 month.”

Try to coach the candidate on what a STAR answer looks like without mentioning STAR. I often find that I need to interrupt the candidates answer and ask them to start over or go-back and to get more details. If they go directly into hypotheticals you can stop them and ask them to restart or throw out the question altogether.

Now that we know what we are looking for in an answer, we need some questions that are related to our values. Here are a few examples.

  • Braintrust Value #2 – Have Fun
    • Sample interview question (Positive case) – Tell me about a time where you could break with the day-to-day routine at work and do something fun in the office. What specifically did you do and what was the impact of your actions?
  • Braintrust Value #3 – Be Professional At All Times
    • Sample interview question (Negative case) – Was there ever a time where everything went wrong and your emotions got the best of you? What went wrong? How did you handle it? What was the impact of your mistake?
  • Braintrust value #6 – Continue To Grow
    • Sample interview question (Positive case) – What have you done in the last 12 months to grow yourself either personally or professionally? What classes have you taken? What books have you read? Other ways to grow? How has your learning benefited you personally and professionally?

Interviewing is an art and a science, we tend to get better over time with practice. Having pre-prepared questions like the above and looking for STAR answers will help you to find individuals who are a good cultural fit, better than leaving it to chance.

Now, unfortunately some poor cultural fits will creep in and it’s always unfortunate for the individual and yourself as the hiring manager. If you have been transparent with the individual and have good communication, then parting ways will not come as a surprise. It’s our job as an Agile leader to cut those who aren’t good cultural fits loose from our team before they have done irreparable damage.

By hiring and firing based upon values you are moving your organization towards having a strong, healthy, and vibrant culture.

Are you hiring and firing based on your values?

Brian Rabon, CST, PMP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *