Values. The Single Most Important Thing to Know About Hiring Right.

core_valuesHave you ever hired someone directly from your competitor, feeling righteously proud about your new trophy hire, only to discover after it was too late that they were a seriously wrong fit?

You’re not alone. We’ve all been there, wooed by hearing all the right things, only to learn that age old lesson – action speak louder than words.

Scary First Impressions

Recently I met a client who told me he could tell if a candidate was a cultural fit within minutes of meeting them, based on whether they were articulate, intelligent, well turned out, and assertive.

While creating a strong first impression is certainly a great start for any candidate, I warn you, these are not characteristics to hire by. Assessing right soft skills – team collaboration (genuine concern for others vs co-blab-oration), emotional maturity (how they respond or react under pressure), personal accountability (right or wrong), and alignment of work and personal values – are what ultimately make or break a potentially great hire in any organization.

People don’t leave companies. They leave managers.

The number one reason a talented person does not perform to meet expectations is because they don’t like their manager. Period. Full stop. The full extent of their reason for leaving is because they do not get along which generally means they have wildly differing values than the people they report to. Except in cases where there is outright abuse and disrespectful behaviour, this doesn’t make one good and the other bad. It just means not a right fit.

Cultural fit relates to how employees need to be managed, supported and encouraged. This is the number one quality to look for when choosing managers.

As a Business Owner Ask Yourself…

  • What values were at play when you built the company?
  • Do the values you live by continue to be reinforced from the top down?
  • How is this influencing your company’s ability to hire right fit?

You don’t want to have a company where everyone has the same driving values, but rather a balance of right culture with those values. For example, high work ethic is a cultural value that you may look for in all your hires, whereas creativity and the desire for freedom are personal values that are only suited to certain roles, typically sales, marketing or business start-ups.

Another example of culture might be continuous innovation, a value that fit roles in product design, but be a less desirable value for an assembly or production worker.

Different Companies Run at Different Paces.

Start-ups typically run at atomic speeds. More established companies are likely to have a slower pace. Remember too your company’s pace will change as it evolves and grows. What’s important to keep in mind is there aren’t many people who are comfortable in both speeds of operation. Some like the slow and steady. Others like a faster pace with steady change.

Job Fit Values

As I said earlier, if someone does not like their job or they are unmotivated, again it is probably because their values are not in right alignment with the needs of the company, their manager, or both. Values are an integral part of assessing overall cultural fit.

The only way to determine whether someone will fit a company’s culture is to start by defining the values and culture of the company. This is what determines your company’s management style of inclusion vs exclusion, reward vs punishment, or demanding vs engagement of employees.

How to Assess Values

Attributes around personality, appearance and presentation should never be used exclusively to define a candidate’s fit. Despite this, business executives, HR professionals and owner-operators commonly and continuously make decisions to hire — although they may appear to be entirely unconscious — based on like-ability, the emotional triggers that have everything to do with someone’s personal attributes, and nothing to do with whether or not they’re the right fit for the job.

There are a number of tools available for you to assess values and motivators. At Ashton & Associates we use The Values Blueprint and, for more in-depth psychometric assessments, Trimetrix.

There are a limited number of values, yet any number of combinations of motivators and values. The key is to know where your company’s dominant values lie, and then you will know what you are looking for in your next key hire.

There you have it. I hope this leaves you with a broader set of perspectives and tools to use when making a decision on right fit in place of “someone you really like”. The ultimate result will be a greatly improved right fit hire ratio.

Barbara Ashton is the CEO and Executive Search Specialist at Ashton & Associates Recruiting.

Barbara and her team can be reached at

Phone: 1-800-432-6893 or Email [email protected]

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This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google.