Why I Hire Based on Values, Not Just Skillset

Hiring. While there are multiple approaches, one method has served me well for years: focusing on values.

What are values? According to the dictionary, a value is “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgement of what is important in life.” Other synonyms include “principles, ethics, moral code, morals, standards, code of behavior.” Interestingly, the verb meaning of “value” is “to consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.” I deeply care about the principles that guide those I work with, and this values-first approach has helped me build up the brilliant team of caring, high-integrity people I now have at my side.

Of Geese and Men (and Women)

I love the analogy of a flock of geese, all soaring in formation. As they fly, the air moving through their wings buoys each one up, and the others around them. However, if one of these geese begins to flounder, he pulls the others down, negatively affecting their flight path.

When I interview potential employees, I do so with my eyes wide open to each person’s skills, work history, but most importantly, what is most valuable to them. I look for people who are passionate about what their craft, that enjoy helping people and who put their teammates’ needs high on their priority lists. As a firm believer in Servant Leadership, I have experienced the power of serving those around me, to the best of my ability, and the benefits of doing so. I will never ask anything of my employees that I wouldn’t ask of myself. We’re all on the same team, buoying each other up every step of the way.

Skills Matter, But Values Trump All

I can teach you to use tools and develop your current skill set. However, solid values based on caring for one’s fellow human beings cannot be taught – they must be embodied, and are part of each individual’s unique makeup. Now I’m not saying that I look for perfect people – I appreciate the nuances that make us all unique, with our strengths and weaknesses. However, when I am looking to hire an employee, someone who will be a part of the face and expression of this company, my goal is to find those who will put their necks out for others and fit in with our sometimes-wacky, always fun, hardworking company culture. Then, I look at skills and see if the individual is teachable and would enjoy working at our company.

The rest is gravy.

What’s your experience with hiring team members? What do you look for?