Recruiting for cultural fit? Crucial for small businesses!

In a small or start-up business it is more imperative that cultural fit and recruitment go hand-in-hand. Yet emerging from the recruitment process with the right employee is not simple. In the early days of a new venture the focus often lies on productivity and profit. There is little time for culture building activities. In fact a business may not even be aware what culture they are looking to create. And without a clear focus of the core values the company will build a future upon, there may soon be no future to pursue.

It is crucial for a young business to know and understand the values and traits that are synonymous with their company culture. I point this out simply because if one is uncertain as to what defines their corporate identity, they run the risk of attracting, and hiring, a damaging pool of candidates. The wrong hire can result in a catastrophic mismatch and destabilise the organisations morale, innovative progression and financial standing. Can you afford a costly recruitment blunder?

Knowing and expressing your cultural principles will communicate an expectation of what it takes to fit within and thrive in your business. Yet communicating with clarity the make-up of your corporate culture can be a challenge. The secret is to be you, at every opportunity. For example, if you don’t wear a suit to work every day, don’t wear one to the interview.

Let’s say you do have a clear vision of your workplace culture, how do you communicate this when hiring? Terminology plays a role so infuse your job descriptions with words that reflect your culture. Describe how your culture is exhibited in every day actions, the work environment, even employee programs if you have them. Be aware too that the channels through which you communicate your vacancy can influence the type of candidate you attract. So be mindful of your words and how you connect. And never discount the influence of the job title.

A great way to understand what you want in your ideal employee is to ask yourself what you don’t want. Does it frustrate you when employees ask for the solution instead of seeking it out themselves? If so I’d say you want someone with initiative. Do you hate it when deadlines are constantly missed? You probably want results driven individuals. Do you cringe at mediocrity? Well, it’s a no brainer, you want a high achiever. 

The interview allows you to extract an applicant’s personality type, key characteristics, work ethic and potential worth to your business. The behavioural interview is great for unearthing much of this information yet if you are a novice in this area, simply ask them to describe a recent project they completed. Listen and then ask who led the project, how many were involved, what was the result and did it meet the objective. If not, why not? In hindsight would they have done anything differently and why? Alternatively pose a scenario for them and ask how they would behave in that situation.

At the small business end of the spectrum­ harmony between culture and recruitment can generate a high performing working atmosphere. But target candidate traits too finely and your homogenous staff could lack the diversity the company needs to succeed. Getting the balance right will allow you to find who will clash and cause disruption, and who will fit and take your business to the next level. It’s where you want to be, yes? To flourish and prosper, arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to identify the right team that will help you realise your professional goals. 

By Sarah Thomas at SJ Personnel

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