Never compromise or settle when it comes to talent decisions advises Mark Meyer, CEO of Filene Research Institute.
“Talent wins,” said Meyer. “People are your most incredible asset and enable your strategy and vision.”
The recession provided the Madison, Wis.-based future focused think tank the opportunity to reflect and rethink what it needed to be, how to quantify and identify what it was looking for and what was needed to attract and retain talent for a variety of roles.
It’s a process Matt Monge, chief culture officer at Mazuma Credit Union, said every organization should adopt.
“Culture is an organization’s DNA. It’s comprised of the values, behaviors, symbols, experiences and social norms within an organization,” said Monge. “It’s not this fixed 16- to 18-month project where the culture has changed and it’s finished. It’s ongoing and will always be presenting some sort of challenge. It shifts in a new expression of your core values, looking at what does it mean now not five years ago. It’s human, messy and you can’t say well our culture is 73% done, it’s not like that. It’s never done.”
What that has meant for the Kansas City, Mo.-based credit union, is taking a brutally honest look at what’s true of Mazuma, what it wanted to be true, what’s the perception of Mazuma and identifying what the gaps were. It’s a matter of digging through it all to figure out what it means and what needs to be done to get to the place the organization wants to go.
“What are the core values that are inherently built in? Is it really something that matters or a thing you’re supposed to say? So, for example, if say you want fun to be core value that means proactively pushing that,” said Monge. “That it’s a big deal to you, and if fun isn’t being had, then you’re asking why. Management will be held accountable for that and everything has to be aligned in organization around that from interviewing, performance review, brand and member interactions to even music in the lobby. If it’s not a core value then be honest about it and say we love to have fun when we can but it’s not our core identity.”
So what does it take to be a Fileneer? First you have to be smart, respectful, humble yet confident, intellectually curious, swift and nimble and last but not least be a doer.
“If building the future of credit unions then you have to have strong conceptions skills and think big appreciate the autobahn of what are members doing on a Saturday morning in their day-to-day lives,” said Meyer. “I’m such a big believer in finding people who appreciate and revel in diversity that is all encompassing. Not the legal definition of diversity but in thought, education, perspective and on election day they’re in blue and red shirts. That diversity of thought is extremely important.”
A believer in fun and play being incorporated in the workplace, he added it goes back to values, skills, knowledge and behavior.
Glassdoor.com has an annual survey of top oddball interview questions. Here’s a look at what some companies are asking to find the right talent match in 2013.
Jeff Bezos walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea. What is it? (Asked at Amazon.)
If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why? (Asked at Forrester Research.)
How many cows are in Canada? (Asked at Google.)
How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State Building? (Asked at JetBlue.)
What songs best describes your work ethic? (Asked at Dell.)
Calculate the angle of two clock pointers when the time is 11:50. (Asked at Bank of America.)
“We encourage having a bit of playfulness in the job, around a body of work to just imagine what if and electrify the workforce. So have what I call Google time and take a break in the day,” said Meyer. “We joke that if it wasn’t fun, research could be really boring. Really hire people that have the right behavioral set that aligns with the organization. Behaviors flummox us as humans. You have to hire people passionate about the work of the firm. There must be a fundamental passion, if not then you can’t get inspired about what the cooperative vehicle can do for America to fuel consumers lives, dreams. That doesn’t mean you have to be off the Richter scale but on the continuum, otherwise it’s just a paycheck.”
“Having the same values does not necessitate those values being expressed in the same ways. What I mean is that you being positive and having fun will look different than me being positive and having fun, but we still share that value internally, right? It’s a shared value,” said Monge. “That’s what we’re looking for–people who share the same values we do, not necessarily people who express those values in the same exact way one of us might. In fact, just look around any of our branches and departments and you’ll see quite a variety, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The best thing an organization can do is be themselves. Talent is attracted to organizations that share their values or have a mission and vision they can get behind. There is no one size fits all culture.”
A recent “Make Friday Count” interview fair helped provide Mazuma the opportunity to not only to meet potential team members but also to give those candidates a clear picture of what Mazuma stands for by experiencing the culture. Monge said most job fairs turn into a one-way sales pitch. It’s just as important for candidates to figure out if Mazuma is a good fit for them as it is for the organization as it becomes a recipe for a less than ideal work experience for all involved.
Each piece of the fair was designed to speak to the credit union’s unique culture and encourage candidates to have fun together from music to games to the group interviews.
“Our culture, in addition to being positive and fun, is also one within which team members collaborate often, learn and grow as individuals and embrace opportunities to be creative and innovative,” said Monge.
Candidates had the opportunity to play games together and instead of the age-old Why should we hire you? question, they were asked why someone else in their interview group would be a great addition to the team.
“They were all taken aback, but the point of the question is we wanted to see how they were pay attention to other people and see if they were the kind of people who would put their needs aside for the needs of someone else. Even if it meant it would cost them.”
Meyer added there’s no magic formula but if an organization has the right strategy to build the right culture it’s powerful stuff.
“You know you’re winning when it's a catalyst for launching talent and the other piece of it is to build options for succession,” said Meyer. “We have 15 full-time employees, and we are always looking for interesting people. And when the right opportunity comes we’ve had a good track record with contracting people to experiment to see if there’s a match.”