Joe: Episode Six, they never said we would make it.
Jeff: Who said that?
Joe Rojas: No, no, it’s rhetorical. You’d understand that if you knew anything about communication.
Jeff: You do know that I have a second major in rhetoric and communications, right?
Anyway, last time, we talked about hiring for values, and this time we’re going to talk about hiring for four core values. I spent a lot of my entrepreneurial career hiring for skill, and I could have defined values better. I didn’t define values at all, and getting people to stay in the organization took a lot of work. But when you hire for core values, not capability, you can train people to do things the way you want them done. You want people who will do things the way you want them done, not how they learned to do them elsewhere. You want to train people. The problem is finding people that align with your values. And when you find people that align with your values, you can create a team that grows. I learned from you, Joe, this idea of hiring for core values. Let’s take an episode and talk about that. Joe, talk to us a little about Zappos, a company that hires for core values.
Joe: Zappos has a great set of values, and they go to a lot of expense to ensure that people their hire share their values. Their last value is humility, which is a hard value to test for. Zappos puts you through a series of pre-interviews, and then if they decide they really want you there, they send a van to pick you up and bring you to headquarters and then let you walk around and ask questions before interviewing you. It’s like, “Hey, welcome to Zappos. Listen, we don’t know what you want to do here. But we’re interested in you. We’d love for you to find out what’s going on here. So why don’t you just walk around? Talk to anybody that you want. Ask whatever question you want to ask. Interrupt any meeting. Don’t be shy.”
Here’s the interesting thing. All the people you randomly interact with decide whether you belong on the team. That’s a great expense for them to go through when they could’ve just interviewed over the phone.
Jeff: I would find that incredibly intimidating. The idea of just going around and interrupting people is not me. They clearly want people who are extreme extroverts.
Joe: Extreme extroverts will communicate that way with their clients, and that’s what they’re looking for. They’re willing to go that extra 10 miles to have somebody on their team that is living who the company is.
Jeff: That’s true, but you must be careful about unintended consequences. You should interview the people who interacted with you in positions where they had an opportunity to be humble if humility is what you’re interviewing for. For instance, I am very good with clients. But I’m not the type to interrupt people.
Joe: Well, that’s for a different value. In humility, they’re looking at people in the van and wondering if they stayed on their phone the entire time or did they create conversation. Did they engage with another human being?
Jeff: That’s interesting. I would ask, “Was this person a jerk to you?” Because I expect people to not have a conversation with the drivers. I try to avoid conversations with the drivers at all costs. But some people are just really obnoxious. I would want to exclude these people from my party. Pret a Manger used to do that. In the UK, the entire team would hire somebody, they would interview that person, and then the whole team would hire that person. The entire team would agree that this person fits the culture.
Joe, you also have a fascinating closet story example.
Joe: I wish I could remember the company’s name! They build custom high-end walk-in closets. Like, million-dollar closets. These guys are artisans, and amazing carpenters, and everything is exquisite. And if you’re going to work at this company, you must go through all these personality assessments.
Jeff: But there will be some capability assessment right?
Joe: To be considered, you need to be in the top 100 carpenters in that country or something, yes.
Jeff: But it’s an important point. We’re never suggesting capabilities don’t matter. They do. But the absolute deciding factor has to come back to values. Anyway, sorry, Joe, I interrupted you. My humility just bubbled right there.
Joe: So after going through all this interviewing, they take a person on a build for a day, and then they come back to the team and say, “Wow, he’s an amazing artist, and he did all this stuff we’d never seen before,” and the team thinks – okay, let’s hire him. But not so fast – at the end of the day, he just took all his tools and threw them into his bag. And that’s not who we are. For us, everything has to go back in its place.
Jeff: What I needed help understanding the first time I heard you tell this story is – what are you supposed to do with your tools? He’s putting them back in the bag right? I would ask, “Did he put his tools away? Yeah? Great.” I wouldn’t wonder if he put the chisel in the chisel slot.
Joe: You have to put the hammer in the hammer slot. And if you don’t do that, if you’re not somebody who puts everything in its place, you can’t work there because that’s how you’ll work. If you’re going to operate out of accordance with our values here, you’ll do it out on the field. You’ll do it in the world.
Jeff: I clearly would be the wrong person. They wouldn’t hire me for a many reasons. Even if I were a carpenter, they wouldn’t hire me. And they shouldn’t because I’m not detail-oriented like that. If you want a closet worth a million dollars, you’ve got to hire somebody who puts the tools in the right place. If you were to look at Joe’s desk, he’s got all the cables tied and everything organized and right where it needs to be. And mine looks a little bit like a tornado just came through. And that’s because I just straightened it out. But I’m the guy you call for other things. You’re looking for different values and different capabilities in different situations.
I was once at a consulting firm, and their thing was: no jerks. Yet they hired this guy who was a real jerk, but he came with all of these clients. Well, what’s more important? Either we’re a company of no jerks, or if you come with the right clients, you can be a jerk.
Joe: There’s a tremendous cost to that. When a jerk happens in a no-jerk space, people lose respect for the organization itself because it gets apparent that this place is no-jerks… unless it impacts the bottom line.
Jeff: When core values are not taken care of, it dramatically impacts people’s ability to do the work and then pushes you into a transactional environment where core values are purely transactional, and people leave. So hiring for core values is essential.
Joe: Skills are 100% trainable. I have a client that recently hit a KPI; they only have to interview 25 people to hire one. And they used to interview 65, 70 people. We’ll get it down to five-to-one, but it is great because they can start an interview and end it 10 minutes later if the questions don’t go.
Jeff: Interview for core values. This comes down to identifying what your core values are, testing those core values with questions, and seeing if the person fits in with the organization. It can be something other than a perfect test or scientific test. Sitting around over coffee and getting a sense of whether a person fits your values can be your test.
For now, Joe, what do people have to remember?
Joe: They have to remember that they are loved.