Corporate Culture:
Attracting Top Talent with Intentionality, Learning, and Honesty

Corporate Culture:
Attracting Top Talent with Intentionality, Learning, and Honesty

Discussing a job description and all the work it entails used to be the extent of a thorough hiring process. Now applicants and employers have access to so much information that they’ve become discerning decision makers, learning everything they can about one another…sometimes before they even meet.

Walt Rakowich

Speaker, Blogger, Retired CEO, www.waltrakowich.com

Walt Rakowich is a leadership speaker, blogger, and seasoned business executive who orchestrated one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the last twenty years. As CEO of Prologis, a global provider of warehouse distribution facilities with more than $50 billion in assets and operations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, Walt implemented a striking change in culture through transparent leadership. He ultimately restored the company to its position in the industry from the brink of bankruptcy during the 2008 recession. Walt now serves on numerous corporate and philanthropic boards, including Iron Mountain, Ventas, Host Hotels, Penn State University, and Colorado Uplift. You can connect with Walt on Linkedin and Twitter, and subscribe to his free weekly newsletter at the link above.

When I was in my twenties and eager to gain work experience, there wasn’t a vetting process with site visits and multiple meetings when a hopeful candidate applied for a position. What’s more, during the interview, I didn’t have many questions outside of what the job involved and the compensation.

Today, once the interview process begins, candidates have as many questions about culture as the recruiter has for the prospective employee about their values. Why does culture matter so much? Because culture represents a promise of what is possible in today’s workplace.

The list of what employees hope to experience after they attend orientation has grown exponentially. Not only do growth and purpose top the list, but autonomy, flexibility, transparency, and opportunity for innovation are among many other factors. On the other side of the desk, the list is also longer than it used to be. Employers vet potential hires thoroughly and then cross their fingers that their new hire is a cultural fit, delivers new heights in performance, and models high-character behavior in and out of the office.

Recruiting for that longer list of applicant credentials requires a proactive position. Gallup explains that employers attract the best candidates if they can define their EVP or employee value proposition. This involves studying the best performers to determine what they value most about the company and turning that into a rubric for recruiting and evaluating new hires. Asking your stars about their company beliefs, values, and motivations is key to knowing how to promote your unique culture to outsiders and engage equally talented people.

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The reality about your culture is that you’ll have one whether you cultivate it or not. It’s up to you to create one that’s an asset for recruitment and retention. Chris Cancialosi of gothamCulture says there are five ways leaders can attract top talent through culture. Here are three that I liked the most.

Be Intentional

The first is to build an intentional culture. Cancialosi challenges leaders to ask, “What does your company stand for? How does it do things differently than your competitors? What do you expect from your employees? If you can’t answer those questions, there’s no way your employees can, either.”

Foster Growth

Cancialosi explains that even though we have gained some distance from the recession, it’s still a competitive market for great employees. To keep your best talent, look for ways to provide them with personal growth opportunities, like taking the lead on projects or shadowing more seasoned team members. Then make sure to share your approach to staff development, as well as some success stories, when interviewing future candidates.

Present Yourself Honestly and Openly

Old-school interviewing techniques, such as reading the resume and meeting for an hour before you ultimately hire someone, are long gone. What’s more, this process doesn’t accurately represent you or your organization. Cancialosi encourages you to “paint a vivid picture of the culture for the candidate” by scheduling several opportunities for the applicant to meet your people. This will also give your team a better look at the candidate for potential fit.

Two million people apply to work at Google each year. This speaks volumes about Google’s ability to attract applicants with its dynamic and innovative culture. Not every company can be Google, but you can study your own employee value proposition and decide how you’ll form a learning culture with integrity. You don’t need two million applicants…if you’re focused approach yields even two more of the right applicants for each position you post, you’ll build a winning team one great hire at a time.


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