Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 4

I started this series positing that respect is the cornerstone for how we might treat each other, to manage our interactions with success, especially in light of the #MeToo conversation. The series so far is:

This part is about how we, as people in the organization, can build respect into our hiring and career processes.

One of the ways we can build respect into our organizations is to humanize our hiring and career development processes. Here are some possibilities:

Understand what cultural fit is and is not.

For years, people have been talking about cultural fit as if it was free coffee or foosball tables. No. Culture is what we can discuss, how we treat each other, and what the organization rewards. (This is from Edgar Schein's work.)

When we use cultural fit as shorthand for “I don't like her,” or “He didn't go to the same school I did” or any of the other excuses, we shortchange ourselves. If you don't like a candidate, explain why, with words. Don't assume that only people who went to your school or graduated with your major are capable. (I explain this in much more detail in Hiring Geeks That Fit.)

I have many posts about cultural fit that you might like. If you only have time to read one, please start with  How to Hire for Cultural Fit Without Becoming Insular and Mediocre.

Once you understand what your culture is, and if you want someone who fits with it more or less (if you look for change artists), consider how you can build respect into your hiring process.

Create a respectful hiring process.

  • Make the first interaction with a candidate something human. I'm not fond of the first interaction being an online test. I also have said that the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) might make it easy for HR to manage the paperwork, but it begs candidates to stuff their resumes with keywords. That puts respect at the bottom of the list.
  • Assume that people have lives and it's worth your time to phone-screen people before you ask them to come in for an interview.
  • Respect your candidates by preparing for the interview. Learn how to have a conversation in an interview (with questions and auditions). Think carefully about how you organize interviews and auditions. See Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4 for links and more details.
  • Search for (source) people who don't look like your current staff. Somehow, as a hiring manager, I managed to find a roughly equal number of men and women to fill my open positions. After reading something on an email list, I realized I had no black people on my team. (I am using the term black to differentiate from white and Asian. If I am using it incorrectly, please do comment so I can learn.) I found great candidates and hired one before I got fired. Since then, I have learned how to source people who don't look like me. (See Hire for Cultural Fit: It’s Time to Add Other People, Pt 2 for an explanation of what I did. It was a combination of changing ads and letting people know I was hiring.)

With a respectful hiring process and an approach that understands cultural fit, you will find candidates who want to work for you.

Use value and career ladders for initial salary and ongoing compensation and parity

If you believe that people are not FTEs or resources, you might have trouble knowing how to pay them. For me, it's about the value they provide and where they fit into a career ladder and the salary levels.

When I phone screen a candidate, I explain the position has a salary level of x to y, and we don't normally hire above the median. Then I ask this question, “Are we on the same page with respect to salary?” If the candidate says no, we discuss what's different. I might realize my job analysis is off or I might realize the salary bands are old and no longer useful. Or, I might decide this candidate doesn't bring the value that goes along with their salary requirements.

If you offer someone a salary based on their previous position, you ignore the value they bring for you. You discriminate against people who have many years with one organization. And, you discriminate against people who were offered a too-low salary to start.

In my very first job out of school, I was paid 30% less than the men who were hired at the same time (with less experience). I left because, although they gave me a 25% raise, I was still making less than the men. If my new boss had paid me based on my previous salary, I might still be behind the salary curve. (Yes, that was sexual discrimination, even then.)

Not having payscale parity for similar jobs is a huge sign of disrespect.

Career ladders are not a guarantee of a fair assessment. However, they are better than anything I know. See Creating Agile HR, Part 5: Performance Management, the Career Ladder for more information.

I'll wrap this up (I hope!) in the next post.

6 thoughts on “Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 4”

  1. When I lead testing teams I had little trouble hiring men and women of many ethnic backgrounds. Now that I lead an engineering team I’ve managed to hire the whitest, malest group I’ve ever led. I didn’t set out to do it. But working with an excellent internal recruiter, we found it incredibly difficult to find candidates who were something other than white men. (Young ones, too; nary an engineer older than 35.) I needed to get this show on the road so I hired from the pool we found. In 2018 if all goes well I should have another large round of hiring late in the year and I want to be priming the candidate pump well in advance of that to find the non-white engineers, the women, and the engineers who are closer to my age (50).

    1. You might be seeing a reinforcing loop of “we don’t hire fill-in-the-blank-people because they don’t fit our culture” which pushes many of those people out of technology which means the pool of potential candidates gets smaller and smaller. Do check your ads for things that lead people to believe they are not welcome. Good that you are starting now, and good that you want diversity of age and experience. Good luck!

  2. Sebastiano Pilla

    I would like to understand what problem the “Search for (source) people who don’t look like your current staff” is solving. Why are you doing this?

    1. In my experience (which may not match yours), diverse teams make better products. I look for diversity in many arenas: experience with different technologies, personality diversity, and yes, gender diversity. The more perspectives on a team, and the safer the team members are to explain what they think, the better the product. For me, this is how the team itself is greater than any of the people in the team. Make sense?

  3. Sebastiano Pilla

    I guess that what I’ve found surprising in your article is that you seemed to paint some kind of causality relationship where “not looking like you” implies “not thinking like you”, and that the determining factor was the diversity in looks/gender/race/origin and not the perspective and experiences that those people could bring in.

    Thanks for clarifying this for me.

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