Cultural vs Skills – Are you Hiring the Right People?

Posted on April 2014 By Judy Cole

I read an interesting statistic the other day that in 2005 the working population was 1 in 3 and is predicted to be 1 in 5 by 2030. Sounds good for unemployment right? But what does it actually mean for the workforce? It means there is going to be over 10% less skilled people in the job market. Remember how difficult it was to find that IT architect? Soon that talent pool is set to shrink even more! And as I mentioned, it is a very interesting statistic, because HR departments, recruiters and hiring managers need be across it and companies need to be preparing for it.

My intention is not to fill everyone with fear of the future or to encourage ambitious parents to move that microphone aside, hang up the dance shoes and swap them for some books on the SAP Enterprise Architecture Framework and some programming gloves (not sure if there is such a thing as programming gloves, but possibly I have just uncovered a hole in the market?!), anyway parents, it’s not such a bad idea actually because in about 30 years’ time there will probably be a big skills shortage within Australia. So, the reason for the article to is to suggest the importance of building and maintaining a good company/ team culture.

A good, strong team and company culture will help attract talent along with retaining those people for the future. It will help set you apart from your competition so that even when that skill shortage happens, hopefully your existing staff will be happy enough to stay put, in addition to you having a good name in order to attract more top talent!

It is interesting to note that when hiring a person, managers use their networks to see how good that person actually is. “SAP is a small world”, “You’re only as good as your last contract” etc….all of this is true for the job hunters but I still struggle to come to terms with the fact that most companies have yet to catch on that the same is true of them.

As you can imagine, in my line of work I hear all sorts of horror stories. There are some companies who have a bad name in the market and it’s a struggle to find people who will work for them.  Likewise, we have clients and even teams who have a great name in the market, which makes it a lot easier to find people and sell the opportunity to them. You can sell the company, but more importantly, the people too!

It surprises me then, that during my 9 years in SAP recruitment, only 2 hiring managers have ever asked me what people think about their company and what their image is in the market place! Why is that? Maybe those 2 people are the only people who are across the above statistic… maybe companies do not feel ‘the pain’ of a skills shortage yet, so short sightedly, they just don’t care?

For those who do care, here is some advice to get you started. Try to create a team culture that rewards and celebrates success, learns from their failures, communicates, compliments each other’s strengths, is aware of their weaknesses, has genuine respect for one another, has fun AND (/but) works hard. This team will attract success, people will want to remain in that environment and other people will want to become a part of it.

When hiring, consider hiring on (attitude) personality and values opposed to just on skills set and someone’s amount of year’s experience. A skills set can often be trained where as the ingrained personality and values of a person cannot. I do say a skill set can ‘often’ be trained but not always. Take me for example, if you like me personally; I am not suggesting you should hire me to come in and implement HANA (although I did get 60% on the Blue T SAP skills test, Meistr – 60%!! Can I get $1,000/day yet??). In all seriousness though, there does have to be some underlying talent involved so I am definitely not suggesting you eliminate the skills side of your interviewing. But a good balance of the two would help you create your ideal culture. Consider sacrificing a “trainable” skill for the person you liked more… 

If this is repeated across the company, then all of a sudden the organisation will not only become more successful, but just as importantly, it will become an enjoyable workplace which in turn will attract and retain top talent. Top talent being someone who not only has the correct skills but also someone who adds to the team in other ways  such as; organises the team lunches, includes everyone, takes part, goes over and above what is expected, trains others, motivates people etc). In addition, investing in someone and training them with a new skill will create a loyalty from that employee, again helping to retain them.

I know it’s quite hard to create everything I have listed above and for those of you who have created it already, then WELL DONE! I would love to work your next vacant position??  
For those who have not, then I implore you to consider that perhaps you are not hiring the right type of people that match and believe in your vision. The CEO of McDonalds was once asked how he trains all of his staff to be so happy and smiley, he replied “I don’t, I hire them like that!”

We all have that company where we look back and remember it to be the best job we ever had, have a think as to why? 9 out of 10 times it will be due to the people you worked with and the successes you shared and rarely how good that person’s configuration ability was. Currently there is a common sad theme in the market – people unfortunately do not seem to be enjoying their jobs/ working environment like they used to. Post GFC, has Australia become a place where companies work their employees too hard and don’t appreciate them or even do something as simple as smile and say thank you?

If you have now decided you are going to place a focus on team culture, personality and ethics in the ongoing recruitment of your team, then my next piece of advice to you is… DO NOT make the mistake of thinking the art of creating a great team culture is by hiring exactly the same type of individual over and over again. Diversity is the key! You can diversify across age, race, gender, background, education, personal goals and much more. Diversity is a large and important topic that is worthy of its own article…stay tuned for more on diversity in another article.

Creating and developing a great team culture cannot happen overnight, it takes time and effort but it is never too late to start. It can be started by something as simple as ensuring your team has a common goal which they believe to be achievable. Once reached, celebrate the achievement as a team ensuring everyone feels valued for the part they played. Try it….you may be surprised at the “Dream Team” you will create!!