History Is Full of Values-Based Hiring Initiatives… And Not All of Them Worked…

Tim Sackett Diversity, Interviewing, Tim Sackett

Over at Workforce.com, Jennifer Salopek has an interesting article: “Values-Based Hiring – Assessing Candidates to Ensure Better Cultural Fit” that dives into the concept of companies going beyond competencies in selecting talent for their organization. It’s not a new concept, since the beginning of time, people have been hiring based on personal filters, of which most are personal value sets, when making hiring decisions for their business or organization.

Here’s what I think is very interesting about Values-Based Hiring. I believe organizations, like Red Hat, Southwest Airlines and Potbelly Sandwich Works from the Workforce article, have the best intentions when setting up a Values-Based selection process. They believe their organizations are unique – “we stand for integrity, and Honesty, and Loyalty, and Perkiness.” It gets their rank-and-file involved in the interview process and makes them feel a part of the selection. The end goal being, we want and need more people who fit our “Value” identity – we want and need more people like… well, us.

Boom!… More people like us – that fit “our” values.  First, let’s be perfectly clear – you can spend 14 months in weekly meetings and hire consultants to come in and guide your organization through your organization’s “values” assessment and it will be within 90% of every other organizations value assessment. Tell me, what organization doesn’t want their people to have integrity, to be loyal, to be Optimistic, to be Proactive, etc. That’s not to say every person and every organization are all those things – it’s a vision, something we all hope to aspire to, something to reach towards.

…More people like us. I call this “bastardizing” our organizations – same thing happens when all you do is promote from within – you don’t necessarily get better – you get more of the same. So, if you are already the best in your industry, best in the world, well, then, you can’t possibly get any better – just keep hiring more of the same.   Organizations get better through Diversity of thought. “But, Tim, “Diversity” is #8 on our list of Values we select for…”  Really? Your values are based on who and what you are, Values-Based hiring is an attempt to make a selection of talent to your organization based on who and what you are – To get the right “fit”. That doesn’t sound like diversity, it sounds like more of the same.

In today’s global workforce, I think we need to be very careful in building Values-Based selection assessments.  What I (US based HR Pro) feel is an appropriate values-based assessment, might completely leave out an entire other segment of the population my company really needs. For example, let’s say I run a company that is based on traditional Christian values – but my organization is growing global and needs a workforce that will primarily come from a Muslim based values background. Do I really want to be selecting on “our” values to make my organization better?

I’m a firm believer that our organizations only get better through diversity, diversity of thought and diversity of workforce.  Diversity is not just getting more of the same. Also, HR Pros, don’t be naive in thinking your organizations’ “values” are really that different than any other organizations’ values – they’re not – competition makes us believe this. “Oh, but you don’t know our competition – they’re just out to make a buck!” And, you’re not, your organization is just out to lose money? Go spend time, quality time with the HR Pros at your biggest competition, and what you’ll find is, for the most part, you’re more alike than you’re different.