Turn Your Core Values into Your Most Valuable Hiring Tool

May 22, 2014


How One Company Places Their Core Values at the Center of Every Hiring Decision

Earlier this month, OpenView announced that a new company joined our growing portfolio of expansion-stage technology companies — FieldLens, a mobile platform that provides tools to help construction professionals communicate more efficiently. A day before the $8 million Series A round was made public, our recruiting team had already conducted a kick-off call with FieldLens CEO Doug Chambers to talk about two searches for the team in New York City — a Senior Managing Editor and a Platform Engineer. What I learned from that call was that FieldLens, which was made up of 21 full-time employees at the time, had already put a lot of thought into developing their core company values. In fact, FieldLens is so committed to those values that they are using them as a qualification framework for every candidate they bring in for an interview.

Hiring Differently: What Sets FieldLens’ Approach Apart

Honestly, that level of foresight is rare for a company at that stage of growth. It requires deliberately stepping back and asking some fairly big questions. But tackling them now is going to serve them well in two important ways:

  1. When you are a company growing at the pace that FieldLens is — they plan to nearly double their headcount this year — it’s helpful to have your values down on paper (and to actually live them!) before you begin to rapidly scale the business.
  2. Having a clear focus on the values that define FieldLens (and their customers) will undoubtedly help the company more easily target, vet, qualify, and hire people whose values align with their own.

FieldLens, after all, isn’t your typical software company. Yes, they build and sell mobile project management tools, but those tools are designed for construction professionals who have very specific product needs. Construction projects are incredibly complex and require the coordination of dozens of companies over weeks, months, and even years — and poor communication is the number one challenge faced on every jobsite, regardless of size or duration. It is important that FieldLens hires employees who have the utmost respect for the work that construction professionals do and the impact it has on us all. The company hires people who strive to understand the communication challenges that those in the construction industry face, and who want to figure out innovative ways to bring them solutions. They hire people with “Blue Collar Work Ethic”— people who value hard work, integrity, and perseverance. And they hire people who are available, accessible, and accountable to their customers, since the company’s customers are the primary focus of all that they do.

Incorporating Company Values into Your Interview Process

Now, this doesn’t mean FieldLens is only looking to recruit people who have worked in construction, or who intimately understand every challenge a construction professional might face. But FieldLens’ motto is, “Our boots are dirty, too,” and the company’s CEO, Doug Chambers, and Director of Product, Julian Clayton, each spent more than a decade in the construction industry as project managers. Not surprisingly, that experience — and the company’s commitment to improving the life and work of construction professionals — is clearly conveyed in the company’s values statement.

“FieldLens is not your typical technology company. Our roots in the hard-working world of construction help shape our culture and the way we work together. Bringing a building out of the ground requires the tireless effort of a diverse group of people – experts in designing, managing and creating – and we think developing software is a very similar process.

FieldLens is looking for innovators. For doers. For smart people that look forward to their work because it’s challenging and because it’s going to make a real difference in people’s lives. We need professionals with domain expertise that get a rush from thinking differently, working collaboratively and from building things that matter.

Is this you? Do you share our values? Does this sound like the kind of environment where you’ll feel inspired to do your best and most meaningful work? If the answer is yes, we’d love to hear from you.”

It’s no coincidence that values statement lives on the company’s Careers page. In addition, every time FieldLens posts a new job, they plan to include their values within the job description. When they bring a candidate in for an interview, they will discuss their values, and determine whether the candidate shares them. And when they’re ready to extend an offer, they will use their values to reaffirm their decision on whether the candidate is truly a cultural fit for the organization. In accordance with their values, FieldLens looks for six behavioral traits in all of their hires, regardless of the position:

  1. Customer Focus
  2. Integrity & Trust
  3. Intellectual Horsepower
  4. Perseverance
  5. Self Knowledge
  6. Action Oriented

What Role Do Your Values Play in Your Hiring Decisions?

Frankly, I think all expansion-stage technology companies should adopt a similar approach to developing company values and utilizing those values in the hiring process. The fact of the matter is that finding qualified talent is just the first step on a long hiring journey. For your company to thrive as it scales, it needs to find people who are talented and truly aligned with what your business — and your customers — are trying to accomplish. Those are the employees who you want in your business long term. Of course, to do this you need to first define your company’s mission, vision, and values — and they need to be more than just words on a page. Your values must be a credo that provides clear direction for every action your employees take. Accomplishing that will take time, but as FieldLens is already discovering, that investment is well worth the recruiting returns you can reap in both the short- and long-term. Need help developing your company’s mission, vision, and values statements? Check out OpenView’s eBook, “What Really Matters: A Guide to Defining and Realizing Your Company’s Aspirations.”

VP, Human Capital

<strong>Diana Martz</strong> is Vice President, Human Capital at<a href="http://www.ta.com/">TA Associates</a>. She was previously the Director of Talent at OpenView.