I recently finished up a new book and have been looking forward to writing this review. There are three key things I picked up from the book that I want to share. No wasting time–I’m diving right in. :-) By the way, if the name sound familiar, this is the third book I’ve reviewed for John. He knows what he’s talking about.

Key Lessons from Cultural Transformations: Lessons of Leadership and Corporate Reinvention by John Mattone and Nick Vaidya

cultural transformations book reviewFirst up, stories are powerful. I think we all know that (and I’ve talked about it both lately and in the past), but it bears repeating. The bulk of this book is made up of interviews with CEOs from companies across the globe. One of the biggest challenges for HR is understanding what the business needs and how to solve those problems. In this book you get to peek into the heads of executives that make the top-level decisions every day, and it’s powerful stuff.

Secondly, Mattone points out early in the book the power of innovation, but he doesn’t do it like everyone else. Instead of focusing on what we typically think of as product innovation, he points out the need for innovation throughout the organization. Here’s the snippet:

When executives change their leadership culture, they are rewarded with significant, sustainable outcomes, including… genuine organizational innovation for not only products but also the organizational systems required to sustain innovation.

Do you know what those organizational systems are that he alludes to? Hint: it includes HR! He’s talking about the infrastructure that enables the organization to create value for customers. From marketing and HR to finance and more, there are so many opportunities to truly innovate within the processes and systems we use to drive the organization on a daily basis. This is refreshing, because it departs from the typical look at innovation from the product side–for example, creating the next iPhone. If my internal systems are better, I don’t necessarily have to create the best thing since sliced bread–I can outpace other companies simply due to the effectiveness and efficiency of our systems. That’s a powerful thought.

Finally, the book makes mention of this concept of a “culture value proposition.” If it sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of its cousin, the employer value proposition, which is the sum of the things you have to offer to candidates/employees to make them join/stay with your organization. What I like is that this looks at culture, a topic I’m pretty fanatic about, at a deeper, more systematic level. From the book:

A strong CVP foundation leads to: capability… commitment… and alignment.

Think about the employees within your company. Are they capable, committed, and aligned with your strategy and goals? If not, it might be time to rethink your culture value proposition, or what your culture can offer to them.

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in checking out what CEOs have to say about culture and business reinvention, or if you’re looking to hone your own organization’s culture value proposition, then I encourage you to check out Cultural Transformations: Lessons of Leadership and Corporate Reinvention by John Mattone and Nick Vaidya (find it on Amazon here). You can also check out the other books John has written: Intelligent Leadership and Talent Leadership.

Find other book reviews here.

weird interview questionsWeird interview questions don’t work. I had to say it. See, someone pitched the 25 weird interview questions article at Glassdoor to me, but that’s not my thing. See, I actually think that asking job-relevant questions will get you more mileage than “What is your favorite song?” And if you’ve been here long, you know I care more about culture fit than about job qualifications in some cases. So why am I against these types of questions? Because they don’t work. I think I said that already, right?

What weird interview questions really measure

All these sorts of things really measure is a candidate’s willingness to answer dumb questions. It doesn’t assess culture fit. I’ll say it again: asking someone how many manhole covers are in San Francisco is not a measure of culture fit. It is not a measure of how they will do the job they are interviewing for. It wastes their time and yours.

Assessing culture fit without the weird interview questions

If you really I want to assess culture fit with interview questions then follow this two step process:

  1. define your core values
  2. ask questions that focus on those aspects

And that’s it.

Using core values to develop interview questions

For example one of our core values is honesty and integrity through open communications. To assess the person’s fit with that sort of core value I will ask them how they handle difficult conversations with coworkers. I will include behavioral questions to assess previous situations where they had to be open and honest, even if it hurt at the time. Here’s another example: another one of our core values is unequivocal excellence. For that I could ask the person how they further themselves outside the workplace or how they pursue excellence in other areas of their life (asking what sports they play and then following up with a “how do you handle x situation in those events” works just as well as asking someone about a specific work task. You are looking for specific behaviors, not what sports they like. It’s a cover for what you are truly trying to understand about the person. Asking them what sort of dog they would like to be is irrelevant and insulting. Want to ask them something to see how they think? Define a problem that simulates one that you experience commonly in the organization, then get them to walk you verbally through the steps of how they would solve it. That short exercise will tell you more about the person’s potential fit for the opening than any number of questions about animals, vegetation, etc. Want to learn about a candidate? Ask real questions with real purpose. 

Vendor management guidelines? What? Isn’t this an HR/recruiting/leadership blog?

Well, yes. Yes, it is.

However, all of us have to deal with vendors, consultants, and other service providers at some point in our careers. I’ve been talking with our own Contracts/Subcontracts management pro at work, and we were discussing ways to help our vendors understand what we need from them. No, you don’t have to create a 50 page set of vendor management guidelines and rules to force them to align with your every desire (good luck with that if you try).

So the question remains. How can you communicate the importance of your core values and what matters to your organization in a way that your vendors, consultants, and suppliers understand and want to partner and support your goals? We talk about all that and more in this video.

Subscribers click through to view.

Communicating vendor management guidelines in a friendly way

(source link on YouTube)

So, what do you think? Are a set of vendor management guidelines in order, or would we be able to carefully and intentionally share our core values, culture, and interests in a way that helps to develop a strong partnership with our external resources?

If you’ve been looking for some corporate culture examples, look no further. I’ve pulled together a handful of ideas that you can put into action to help your employees become raving fans of the organization. Some of them are easy to implement in the short term, others might take a little more work to get started, but all of them can make a difference! (If you’re looking for more ideas, check out this list of 50 HR challenges.)

Remember, great companies don’t just happen. They are intentional creations that require hard work and dedication, but they’re worth it. Continue reading

So. How’s your culture? Are you paying attention to it? What’s it like? Do people love it? Hate it? Want to burn it to the ground, bulldoze the ashes, and nuke the whole mess?

I jest, but it’s a serious question. Have you ever taken the time to just sit and think about the culture and values your organization embodies? I’d hope that it would be a pleasant experience, but there’s really no way for me to answer that for you. What do you think? Are you proud to talk about what your organization does and values, or does it make you a little queasy? Check the video below for a few ideas I have regarding culture and values and let me know what your thoughts are.

I just realized the audio and video tracks are off. Get ready for a funny video that looks like an old Japanese horror film. :-)

(Subscribers may have to click through to view the video.) Continue reading