Get New Staff To ‘Self-Select’ To Promote Positive Organizational Culture Change

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If you want a strong and distinctive company culture, you need to get the right people on the job. Choose well and a positive organizational culture change will be possible.

If you want to guide organizational culture change toward innovation, hire creative people. If you want aggressive sales results, hire those with an energized “can-do” attitude to foster organizational culture change. If you want to give great customer service, only hire people who will go the extra mile and support an organizational culture change in this direction.

But how can you find such people in a market filled with so many resumes, retrenchments and retirees? How can you avoid wasting time and money hiring new staff, only discovering later they weren’t the right people for the job and don’t promote the organizational culture change you’re after?

Well-designed job interviews can be useful; candid referrals may help. Personality profiles may also reveal who a person really is, and isn’t.

But here’s another approach that will save you time and money, though it is very rarely used: raise the bar during the recruitment process so job seekers “self-select.” Eliminate those who won’t support organizational culture change for the better from the start to save yourself a lot of effort.

You want innovation? Run your recruitment advertisement upside down in the newspaper. (It will be the only one, and will definitely stand out!) Ask interested applicants to provide specific examples of how they do things “differently” (and better) in their lives and in their work.

You want ambitious, aggressive sales staff to lead organizational culture change? Arrange job interviews at one location, then leave a note taped on the door explaining that the location has been changed at the last minute to somewhere else. Include a short apology and a map, and request those still interested to come to a different building several blocks away. At the new location, leave another note, this time moving the meeting down the hall or up a few flights of stairs.

Now interview and select only those applicants who arrive energized by this process. Those who complain, are upset or exhausted won’t have the stamina to chase down sales leads and succeed in assisting with a positive organizational culture change.

You want to hire people who truly believe in great customer service? Conduct job interviews at 8:00 p.m. on a Friday night. When applicants arrive, ask them to help you pack a last-minute customer order before the interview begins. Then have someone call in (pre-arranged) pretending to be your customer. Help them patiently over the phone, delaying your interview by a few more minutes. Watch your applicant’s mood throughout this process. Hire only those who smile and nod with understanding as they see you giving extra-mile service. These people will foster an organizational culture change that’s positive for your company.

The MGM Hotel in Las Vegas applied this approach in a fast and effective manner. They needed to hire hundreds of new staff in a short period of time, but thousands of job seekers applied. One-by-one the applicants were guided down a long hallway. As they approached a junction at the end of the hall, an MGM recruiter looked up from his desk and said in a plain tone of voice, “Hello.”

Applicants who responded with clear eye-contact, a warm smile and a positive tone were guided to the right side for immediate interviews and job offers. Those who responded with a blank stare or a flat tone of voice were gently guided to the left side – and out the door.

Key Learning Point To Organizational Culture Change

It’s important to get the right people into your organization, and it’s expensive to hire the wrong ones. Be creative with your recruitment and interview process. Take time at the start to help your best job applicants stand out as those who would assist with organizational culture change. Let them “self-select.”

Action Steps To Organizational Culture Change

Look closely at your current recruitment and interviewing process. Does it identify job applicants who are truly aligned with your mission, values and culture? How can you change, improve or modify the process to quickly attract those you want, and easily decline those you don’t? Organizational culture change begins with your people.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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