publication date: Dec 5, 2012
author/source: Janet Gadeski
Whatever you may think of former CIA head David Petraeus, he
was right about one thing. The behaviour you model as a leader is the behaviour
you get from your followers. And if a leader's behaviour imperils an
organization's mission, the leader has to go.
chairman and executive search specialist Marty
agrees. "As leaders
you are the builders of culture: you can drive it, adapt it, and shape it," he
told delegates at AFP Greater Toronto Chapter
conference. "You set the
course. Culture comes directly out of the tone at the top."
Culture drives profit
Culture actually drives performance, Parker asserts. That
makes it "the greatest asset
an organization can have." What does that mean for nonprofits? The right
culture boosts your mission effectiveness, your recruitment and retention, and
the power of your brand. Assuming you have a helpful culture, you'll want to do
everything you can to recruit for cultural fit, train new hires in your
cultural expectations, and evaluate behaviour as part of your performance
Finding people who
Recruiting for fit may seem difficult. How do you judge the
deep-down, long-term values and actions of people you meet for a few hours at
most in a situation where they're on their best behaviour?
First of all, Parker says, be sure you know what kind of
behaviour leads to success in your mission. That means knowing yourself and your
colleagues, and taking the time to reflect on the values and actions that
contribute to your charity's success.
Rather than waiting until someone leaves, he advises a
practice of "continuous, active recruitment." Get to know the rising stars in
your sector. Find out all you can about them and make a point of meeting them
in conferences, special events and the like. You'll have some people in mind
already when your next vacancy occurs.
During the interview, always focus on the candidate's
behaviour in previous positions. Ask how they achieved the accomplishments
they've listed in their resumes. Dummies.com
has some far-from-dumb tips for such interviews. Prepare questions that begin
with phrases like:
- "Tell me about a time when ..."
- "Give me an example of your skills in ..."
- "Describe a time when ..."
- "Why did you ..."
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Back to Marty Parker's
No matter how well a candidate performs, you'll want to dig
further. As candidates mention someone during interviews, ask whether you might
contact that person and what the candidates think they might say. Check
references thoroughly, and go beyond the listed references to others who have
been connected with the candidate.
Pay special attention to those who are known as "judgement
stars" in your field, Parker advises. They often have information and
perceptions that others lack.
Maintain emphasis on
Remember that the learning curve for organizational culture
can be just as long as the learning curve for the position's tasks. When
Parker's company conducted research on corporate culture, just 30% of the
leaders surveyed said their integration processes lasted longer than 90 days.
For the primary driver of your mission success, that's not enough.
To protect a culture that delivers success and to ensure
that new hires fit in, build a performance evaluation process that emphasizes
behaviours and outcomes equally. Make an effort to catch people doing the right
things and celebrate their actions.
Remember that rewards don't always have to be rooted in
compensation. Loblaw's, for example, gives "ABCD Awards" to employees who go
above and beyond the call of duty. Such celebrations speak volumes about what
the company expects and the culture you're trying to build.
But most of all, Parker concludes, model what you want.