Originally published on linkedin on 8/29/17

Do you know your company’s DNA? – identifying “dimensions of necessary attributes”

A few months ago, I noticed an interesting definition for a commonly used abbreviation – “DNA – dimensions of necessary attributes”, by Steve Lowisz from Qualigence. For as long as one can remember, companies have recruited candidates by conducting a few hours of interviews and/or through a screening test similar to those done by insurance companies. For the most part, this has not changed over time for most positions. There has been more emphasis on the right qualifications to perform the job rather than any emphasis on the needed chemistry or the specific “DNA – dimensions of necessary attributes” to not only be able to do the job but also to fit into the culture and chemistry of the hiring organization. While there are attempts to get to this by recruiters and retained search firms, much is needed in a more definitive quantitative metric to get at this DNA.

Incidentally, while on the job, especially in sales jobs, coaching takes a similar pattern. Regardless of learning styles, the coaching “form” is hard coded or similar for everyone in the sales organization. The difference might be minimal in some of the major coaching methodologies. In fact some pharmaceutical companies base their field force incentives on the manager’s perception of sales employee performance. There is a great tendency to “herd the cats” towards a standard template regardless of the diverse background of the individual and differing learning styles.

Where are corporations going wrong? With tremendous buy-in of artificial intelligence/deep learning/machine learning in many aspects of corporate governance and personal lives where “predictions” are the norm, why aren’t we using that and many other techniques to acquire, coach and retain the right talent needed for the organization? Well I am sure there will or already has been much thought to this.

Before we go to coaching, let’s understand what we can do to recruit a candidate who is not only the one best suited for the job, but also fits well with the culture of the company. According to the September 28, 2016 issues of Forbes, a well known recruiter Jörgen Sundberg, put the cost of onboarding an employee at $240,000. The article also reports that the U. S. Department of Labor estimates the price of a bad hire to be at least 30 percent of the employee’s first year earnings. Additionally, in an article in FastCompany, Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, offers new hires pays money (called “The Offer”) to leave the company[ES1] ; and it’s why he practices the policy of hiring slowly and firing quickly. The idea behind this is if you are willing to take the company up on The Offer, you obviously don’t have the sense of commitment they are looking for. Many rave about the level of energy in the Zappos culture–which means, by definition, it’s not for everybody. Zappos wants to learn if there’s a bad fit between what makes the organization tick and what makes individual employees tick–and it’s willing to pay to learn sooner rather than later says Bill Taylor in the May 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review. Apart from the economics, productivity and employee morale will also suffer in the organization when the employee is not a good fit.

According to a company called “Living Office’ whose work centers around “a human centered approach to work and workplace” quote that their research and results are helping people feel more creative, connected, and engaged in their work. In turn, organizations are seeing greater efficiency, productivity, and innovation. My question is how often do we like to alter our working environments to bring out behavioral patterns which might not be in the DNA of that employee? Before we invest in altering environments, can we invest in hiring the “right” talent who will embrace collaboration, innovation and positive engagement with no changes to the physical elements in the workplace?

While testing for functional expertise is always paramount, do companies really test for cultural fit and chemistry? How many organizations have candidates interviewed by others in different departments who do not have the same functional knowledge and seldom look for other elements of chemistry and cultural fit?

In many companies there are “lifers” who are productive and also fit into the culture and chemistry of the company very well and are extremely productive, collaborative and innovative. . How often have we studied them to determine what makes them tick and then use those learnings to build a battery of predictive fit dimensions that can be used in the interview process? Can we further segment them by job functions so we can fine tune the process?

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Copyright: Publicis Health, 2016

Precision Recruiting – identifying your company’s DNA

Taking a prospective candidate through an assessment center as seen in the Precision Recruiting Roadmap above will be a good start. The roadmap depicts how a company can study, validate and create predictive metrics for measuring and predicting “fit” within the organization. Having done this in my company, it is eye opening to see how many people who we would have hired for functional competency, fail miserably during the simulation exercise when it came to cultural fit. Doing this and even getting it half right will go a long way in talent retention.

In sales organizations formalizing coaching in quantitative dimensions will be key in ascertaining productivity and fit. If done right no company needs to waste money to make “The Offer” to leave as is being done at Zappos. In order to develop predictive indices, we need to study the successful employee in the organization who are functionally and culturally “fit” for the organization. Developing coaching modules matching individual learning styles and correlating to performance will help organizations get closer to mining for predictive indices. Studying exiting employees, coaching with defined quantitative outcomes, creating predictive metrics for functional and cultural fit/chemistry and using these metrics to create talent acquisition tests and tools is precision recruiting.

Precision recruiting is just warming up but promises to pay big time. The more we quantify the candidate journey, the more we will learn to get this right. We at Publicis Health are also experimenting with building a battery of quantifiable coaching “dimensions” both on functional mastery and on much softer skills for coaching. Each manager can “score” a coaching report and set up the next one depending on the employees learning style and scores. Hopefully one day when the coaching report scores correlate with performance, we would come close to perfecting these “dimensions of necessary attributes” – the company’s DNA!

Learn more about Publicis Touchpoint Solution’s Recruiting Capability.

Written by Mark J. Stevens

Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions|Publicis PDI|Publicis Tardis Medical

What do you think?