Lindsay Bell

Protect Your Corporate Culture by Hiring Right

By: Lindsay Bell | October 29, 2014 | 
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Protect Your Corporate Culture by Hiring RightBy Lindsay Bell

There’s been a lot written this month so far about internal communications and how it affectsor doesn’t—your corporate culture.

But there’s a key element that needs to be in place long before internal communications strategies get discussed, planned, and implemented.

Your people.

If you don’t have the right teams in place, if you haven’t determined what your internal culture is, and who fits in and who doesn’t, no amount of internal communications finesse or fancy new communications tools are going to help.

One Company’s Corporate Culture

I stumbled upon a company recently whom I knew little about.

Now, before you all start texting and emailing Gini Dietrich wondering if I’m looking for another job, the answer is no.

But as we’re redesigning and getting ready to relaunch the Arment Dietrich site, I’ve been keeping a close eye on website design.

When I see something I like, I dig in deep.

GasPedal manages SocialMedia.org and WordofMouth.org, and I don’t think I’ve EVER read a more detailed and brutally honest outline of an organization’s corporate culture, and the type of people they want—and don’t want—to come and work with them.

Where a lot of companies today extoll the virtues of their workspace and teams, and talk at length about relaxed hours, free snacks, and foosball tables—the folks at GasPedal take it a step beyond.

Your People are Everything—Protect Them

Right off the top, they speak about the mixed reactions and reviews they’ve had from people who’ve worked with them in the past.

They actually link to glassdoor.com, and encourage people to check it out. And there are some nasty reviews there, and particularly damaging chatter about their CEO, Andy Sernovitz

Then, as you channel surf through their comprehensive rundown of “Life at GasPedal,” you find the basics, such as “Our Core Values” and “Our Philosophy,” and then you stumble upon statements like these…

Protect Your Corporate Culture by Hiring Right

…and you realize this group REALLY understands what makes their teams work, and what will poison their particular group dynamic if it’s allowed to fester.

Cull the Herd

Personality matches and overall fit aside, they are also clear—like, crystal—that the people who walk through their doors as new hires are expected to hit the ground running.

They use the analogy of a baseball team: They are building a strong team, and while they provide lots of coaching and training, when it’s your turn at bat each day, you better hit the field already warmed up.

They list five expectations of new hires:

  • Start fast.
  • Be responsible for making us better.
  • Be great at personal planning and time management.
  • Be a “process” person.
  • Be a maker.

And while there’s a ‘How to Succeed’ section, for people interested in joining their teams, there’s also a ‘How to Fail,’ and ‘Who Shouldn’t Apply’ section.

Those two sections are both very blunt—“One in four new hires don’t last a year.”—and very detailed.

I imagine it’s taken GasPedal a while to map this all out, and I’m sure they’ve made many mistakes and wrong hires throughout the years, which has helped with the aforementioned mapping.

But what I love about them is how brutally steadfast they are about what it takes to work with them.

How much they value what they’ve built from an employee/team perspective, and how ruthless they are prepared to be if something starts to get in the way of their cohesiveness and success.

As seen in the above screen grab from their site, “We WILL fire you.” is sprinkled liberally throughout.

It Only Takes One Bad Apple…

And while this approach—they actually have a nine step interview process, including an email questionnaire, a phone screen, four interviews, and test projects to be completed—certainly won’t work for all companies, you can take away bits and pieces of what they do and apply them to your team building efforts.

  • Determine exactly what your company culture is: Who you are internally and what you stand for.
  • Screen, screen, and screen some more before hiring.
  • Decide what you will and won’t allow from your employees (office politics, level of performance, etc.).
  • Be crystal clear to potential hires about those expectations.
  • And be prepared to fire those who make it through, but who simply don’t deliver.

As GasPedal says:

Not everyone wants to work the same way, and not everyone wants the same destination — and that’s OK. But we’re not going to succeed in our journey if we have teammates who aren’t as interested in or committed to where we’re going (and they’re not going to enjoy it either).

I have absolutely zero affiliation with GasPedal, and have no clue whether they practice what they preach (though my gut tells me they do), or if they are a nightmare to work with or not (though it’s easy to see exactly who they are before you sign that contract!).

But it only takes one bad apple to upset the cart.

Take a page from their book, and make sure you only pick—and keep—the best. 

About Lindsay Bell


Lindsay Bell is the content director at V3 Marketing, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.