Defining Company Culture is a Recruiter's Job

November 19, 2014 at 11:52 AM by Rob Stevenson

Webster's Dictionary defines culture as...

Just kidding. When it comes to nailing down one of the most intangible and slippery aspects of your company, it's important to avoid all the cliche motivational Defining company cultureposters and trust fall team building activities. That said, culture is more than perks and happy hours, and if you're going to build and continually promulgate a common sense of mission, you're going to need to sit down with some team members and learn about your own company. As recruiters, you are in a unique position not just to help your team discuss their virtues and extol the important ones, but to yourself shape and guide the cultural progression of the company through the hires you make and organizational values you prime them with. Below are a few ways to go about defining company culture and an exploration into why it's such an important part of your role.

Why Do You Work Here?

This is a simple question to hit your team with early on. Presumably, you've assembled a crack squad of talented individuals who might have had a choice of several different offers. Ask them why they chose you, and push them to be specific. Compensation and relevance to previous experience are not answers here. If they talk about the problem your company is solving for it's customers, you're on to something. If they mention the people around them, ask them what it is about their co-workers that keeps coming in to the office from being a chore. It's these things beyond compensation that can lead your people to keep grinding and stick around even when things at the company are tough.

Revisit Your Candidate Pitch

A great exercise for delineating what's special about your company is what you use in your pitch to prospective hires. What do you offer people beyond compensation? This is what you've decided--consciously or otherwise-- is unique about your opportunity, and if you're using it to successfully close candidates, they're going to come in on their first day with this in mind. Here's where you can act as a guiding force in your company's culture: once you've nailed down your culture, you can neatly package it and use it to attract people who are on board with your mission. As Matt Charney, co-editor of RecruitingBlogs pointed out, prepping yourself for this conversation can be jarring:


Getting on the Same Page

It's impossible to discuss company culture without mentioning Zappos, as they've continually set the bar for culture as a driving force for internal satisfaction as well as for recruitment and branding. In an interview with Startup America CEO Scott Case, Tony explains that specific values aren't as important as alignment.

"It actually doesn't matter what your values are, what matters is you commit to them as an organization and you align the entire organization around those values. The power comes from the alignment, not from what the specific values are. There is no right or wrong in terms of what's the right culture or values."

So, What are Your Values?

It's good to note there's no right or wrong values (within reason). So long as the team is on board, the values will work out as a positive internal factor. When it comes to determining what exactly your values are, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings suggests taking a look at what behaviors and actions are rewarded or punished within a company. What are the attitudes of people who get promoted? Who are let go? This is a great barometer for the values that have organically developed in your company.

What are some of your strategies for defining company culture, working it into your recruitment, and shaping it through your hires? Leave a comment or tweet @EnteloRob!

More from Entelo on company culture:

Here's How the 'Not a Culture Fit' Excuse is Costing Your Company

6 Awesome Company Culture Videos

Let it Shine: Promoting Company Culture in Job Ads

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