The Value of Culture in a Competitive Job Market

If you sense employees are accepting positions at your practice based largely on salary, it may be time to ask yourself the question “Why is my business here?”. Over the last generation we have seen ever-increasing focus on people defining who they are, their missions, their style.

YellowTelescope team groupshot

“Gee, I’m very glad to see that you’re a Golden Retriever-type with a sushi burrito soul but what we were actually looking for is a receptionist,” is only slightly far-fetched in the current hiring climate with unemployment at a multi-decade low. Yet so many medical practices and businesses, in general, remain adrift in the vast sea of nebulousness, unable to define purpose, mission, “why”, or differentiating factors.  While you may not be able to appoint Stacy Sullivan to chief culture officer, as Google did nearly 12 years ago before watching virtually every large corporate entity with a large hiring operation follow suit. In a difficult employer’s market, however, there are steps that can be taken to hire a true fit that lasts, and here we provide some ideas and methodologies to improve your chances.

We begin with the beginning. Start by setting aside an hour or two, preferably offsite, alongside your team to talk about the singular topic of defining your corporate culture. By doing nothing more than scheduling time and putting pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – and writing out your company’s culture in a succinct and digestible fashion, you will immediately become more attractive to candidates who are interested in your position. “But, YellowTelescope,” you ask, “what questions should we ask and how can we use this time to effectively define our culture?”  Great question. We are glad your inquired.

Core, Non-Negotiable, and Aspirational Values

First, try to make 3 lists on a whiteboard or sheet of paper.  The initial list will be of non-negotiable values, which are values that result in firing or not hiring to begin with, if absent. These might include being on time, honesty and integrity, work ethic, and a sense of humor.  The second list will include your core value, which are defined as the differentiating factors that separate your business from its peer group. These might include a belief in cutting edge technology (or a belief that cutting edge technology is not necessary), responding to all patients within 24 hours, 5-star customer service, and at least one week a year dedicated to charitable work. Last, make a list of aspirational values, which consist of those longer-term goals your team hopes to achieve, which might include growing to be the most successful practice in Dallas, impacting 10,000 patients positively, or being recognized as a Top Doctor by the New York Times.

The Wretched Millennial and Your Interview Skills

Imagine your practice just wrapped an unusually successful quarter (most of our clients did just that), and you need to bring on a new team member to handle the increased surgical volume and subsequent leads. After posting an ad for the position, a number of people apply, but one of them is a clear fit. She’s a millennial – you’ve read about her kind. A sharp young woman and team player with a sense of humor and agreeable nature. She nails the interview and you extend an offer for her to take the position, yet she politely declines and you never hear from her again. Sound familiar? A month later, you check LinkedIn and see that she’s working from a bean bag desk for a tech company down the street. She took a similar position in a completely different environment. You shake your head and think “damn Millennials…”.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college graduates today enjoy a very low 2.8% unemployment rate. There are quite literally too many opportunities out there for a qualified candidate to take a job she does not perceive as a near-perfect fit. For the foreseeable future, top echelon candidates are no longer walking into interviews desperately hoping to leave with an offer. Often, candidates are really waiting for the chance to ask their own questions.  In the current job market, you have to ask “who is interviewing whom?” And the answer is that this two-way street has equal traffic driving both ways.

Think back on the interview. She swam swimmingly, but did you simply tread water? When she asked you what she could expect out of your company environment, could you answer, let alone succinctly and effectively?  Whether you’re hiring for an intimately-involved member of your leadership team or a distant member of the custodial staff, these answers matter to just about every person looking for a job in 2017.

A second methodology outside of non-negotiable, core, or aspirational values (we give a hat tip to Patrick Lencioni and his book The Advantage for his insight), is to define your culture while you build your interview skills. Quite simply, we recommend that you pre-answer a list of the most common questions that interviewees ask. Indeed, if many applicants are curious about a topic, the right answer will help both you and the applicant determine if you have the right cultural fit with your practice. With that in mind, we searched for the top questions that a potential recruit is likely to ask during a job interview, and have included a few in this humble newsletter.  It would be prudent to be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What do you like about working here?
  • How do you motivate and retain your top talent?
  • What would success look like in the first 3 months of this role?
  • What are the core values do you look for each employee to embody?
  • What do you consider to be your organization’s best aspects?

By knowing the answers to common questions in advance, you not only seem prepared and have a greater chance of winning the candidate’s interest in the position, but help your team and you define your own culture in a more concrete fashion.

Defining your culture

Once you have defined your culture through the exercises of pre-answering common interviewee questions and drilled down on your corporate values, you will have a better-defined culture, but the adventure has just begun.  There are a variety of tools you can utilize to implement your aspirational values within the existing culture and improve the chances of it permeating the organization.  We encourage you to start the journey towards a better and more tenured team by asking yourself what the most successful day in your office that didn’t have to do with money was in recent memory?  What differentiated it from other similar days and how does that relate to the culture you wish to build within your organization?  From teamwork, to growth, to amazing patient satisfaction, the options are limitless when it comes to differentiating your practice, permeating your organization with a culture that makes you proud, and infusing your recruiting process with those cultural norms to ensure you attract and retain some of the country’s top talent in the most competitive times in recent memory.

You’ll never biff the “why do people want to work here?” question again

For more information on practice culture or to discuss how we can help you with staff training, retention, or recruiting, reach out to us at info@yellowtelescope.com.


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