Finding What We Believe: Choosing a New Narrative In Hiring

Last week I talked about the importance of your vision, not just for your business, but setting one for yourself and your life. Your vision is what attracts the right people to your services and what you have to offer. More importantly, your vision is what will keep you and your business going when times get rough—say, in the midst of a global pandemic.

And it’s not enough to just set a vision. Your vision needs to align with every part of your business. This includes your hiring practices. Why are you employing people? Why should people come work for you? Only by understanding your own vision for what you want in your business can you attract the right employees and produce the employee culture that fulfills that vision. (Check out this week’s episode of the Created on Purpose Podcast where I discuss this very topic!)

You’ll know your vision and your hiring practices aren’t aligning when you start having “difficult” employees, or when your employees just aren’t performing to your expectations. When I was in the childcare business, I was having a really hard time getting quality employees. (Or so I thought.) Part of our business’s vision was providing healthy food to the children we cared for everyday. We devised a creative menu intended to build good eating habits with fun wrapped in. I needed the nutrition position filled, so I put out a job description that aligned with kitchen staff positions.

I didn’t realize how hard it would be to fill this position. All I could find were little old ladies who didn’t understand our “crazy organic menu.” “I can’t cook this,” they would say. “How do you get kids to eat this stuff? I wouldn’t even eat this.” They refused to even try the foods we were having them prepare for the kids. I pushed back. I could educate these people and change their entire lives! I thought. By the time we’re done with this, they’re going to want to eat healthily!

I’ll bet you can guess how long that lasted. Let me tell you: If you ever find yourself in a place of trying to convince your employees why they should want what you want, you know you’ve done something wrong.

The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t find “quality” employees; the problem was my job description. I was hiring kitchen staff, people trained in cooking meals for large groups. What I should have been looking for were people who already ate healthy, who were already food prepping. I didn’t even mention personal nutrition in the job posting! What group aligns with this need? Personal trainers. Because I didn’t get clear on who truly aligned with my business’s vision before I posted the job, I hired the wrong people to fit the company culture and found myself frustrated, blaming them, and trying to push my value system onto them after the fact.

Long story short, we changed the wording on our job description (“We are an all-organic childcare business passionate about nutrition for our little ones. Are you passionate about healthy eating? Why not start small? Start with our kids”), had a bunch of interesting prospects show up for the interviews, and chose three people who still work there to this day, 13 years later.

If your employees are underperforming, or flat-out not performing, our knee-jerk reaction is often to make them wrong. Instead, as business owners, we need to ask ourselves: is it a behavioral issue? Or is it a cultural misalignment issue? Of course, in order to answer the latter question, you have to be crystal clear on your business’s vision. Then you can ask the important questions when you’re hiring, such as:

  • Who actually fits this position?

  • Who’s passionate about being here?

  • Who would actually be psyched about this job?

Look at your business, get reconnected to your vision, and start getting excited at the opportunity to find and hire people who want to carry out your vision just as much as you do! It’s time to start asking what’s possible.