I’ve been in the remodeling industry for about 22 years now. During that time, I’ve hired plenty of people. I’ve also had to let go of a few, but that’s an entirely different story — though not completely unrelated.
When it came to hiring employees, I’d typically sit down with a list of qualifications for my ideal candidate. If, for example, we were in need of an estimator, I’d be on the look out for someone highly skilled in estimating home improvement projects. For a project manager, I’d likely bring in people with some proven organization, leadership, communication, and time management skills.
After a couple rounds of interviews, I’d hire whoever I felt was the best candidate for the open position. Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with basing your hiring decisions on skills. I’ve gotten this far in the industry and my business is still thriving.
But something changed in my attitude toward my hiring practices when I started doing some of my own values work, which is the process of defining your personal values in relation to your business.
Getting to Know Your Values
About five years ago, our company started working on its organizational culture. It’s not like we didn’t have a culture. Like any organization that never actively created one, ours developed organically. And though it had served its purpose thus far, I felt a change was in order.
As we started working and planning for a cultural shift, somebody asked me, “What’re your values? What do you stand for?”
At first, I thought the answers were straightforward, like “quality,” “craftsmanship,” or “great customer service.” Seemed logical, right?
While I personally value each of these attributes, and believe all are essential to running a successful business, they didn’t do much to separate me (or my company, for that matter) from the rest of the industry. If I weren’t the CEO of this remodeling company, would I really value customer service above everything else? Could I say the same for quality or craftsmanship?
It wasn’t until someone said, “a core value is something that, if taken from you, you’d no longer be the person you were before,” that I started to properly examine my core values. I was able to assess my values through a lens fashioned for me as an individual.
Anyway, it took me about a year to really figure out my core values, and they include humor, community, education, time, and curiosity. If you were to take any one of these values away from me, I wouldn’t be the same person — not even close.
Once I understood and defined my values, I wanted to reach out to other people who had the same values, including employees. Working with people who have similar values to my own has allowed me to work with much more ease of mind.
When I hire people now, I hire first for values and second for skills. I know I can teach a new hire what he or she lacks in skills, but I can’t very well teach people to share values — nor should I. In fact, basing your hiring decisions around values can improve morale, performance, and collaboration. It also can do wonders for the stability of your culture.
I use a similar approach to strategic partnerships with vendors, suppliers, architects, and design professionals. If we have similar values, we’re all working as part of the same culture. This, in turn, will attract more people into this culture, including clients, and who doesn’t want an ever-growing clientele?