Great interview this week with the head of US HR for a major Japanese automobile company. We were talking about what makes their business unique, what they look for in leadership, and so on. We got to assessment, and I learned that during their interview processes that every leader in the organization in the California office has to interview the final candidate. All 12 officers.
My response? I asked her if a Keiretsu-like culture was alive and well in her organization. She said “Absolutely!” Her tone changed after that because she realized I was in on a secret. Keiretsu is a corporate relationship and governance structure that has been used in Japanese business for quite some time. Its not publicized as it was back in the 1980s/90s, and globalization of companies have severely decimated the actual corporate alignment it used – but the cultural aspects associated with that business model can still linger – even here in the States. Its not everywhere in Japan – please don’t make that leap. Lots of books and data on this, but if you think Fedex or Facebook has a culture…you should do some reading on Keiretsu.
She continued to tell me that assessing candidates to fit into their culture is done by making sure that all the players agree that the person belongs. Its a careful sell across the organization top down that allows for support and exposure all at once. Culture is their greatest asset, and its primarily how they invest in their recruiting and assessment efforts.
That is where the lesson is…allocating time to what is important in assessment. They spend over 80% of assessment on ONE THING. But at least they know what that is…culture.
What are the primary drivers in YOUR business? Technology? Innovation? Culture? Leadership? You probably already know, but the question is have you invested your resources in such a way that you are really vetting against those significant assets?
If its “leadership”, are you asking questions in interviews about leading teams? Developing them? Addressing conflict? Are you presenting cases regarding leadership and having them work out the problems? Are they interviewing with not only the hiring manager but well regarded leaders in the organization? Are the leaders designated certain questions about leading teams, and are they debriefing specifically on those topics? Are you having top individual contributors ask about leadership and management techniques and comment if those candidates can lead people like them?
If you don’t know what makes your company tick – you better ask. If they don’t know – guess. But at least take your assessment resources and strategize how you are really measuring those really important assets.
By the way – retention in this company is tremendous if you think it doesn’t work. And for the record, I don’t have a patent on Recruiting Samurai. I am sure I saw that somewhere else.