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The Payoff of Choosing the Right People

September 20, 2010

How good of a fit do people need to be, to work where you do?  Would
anyone do?  Would it be one of 5 people interviewed?  1 out of 20?
At the phenomially successful Zappos, it’s 1 out of 100.  They may be
on to something.

There was a recent article on Zappos in Strategy-Business that suggests
that getting the right emphasis on culture and the right people on board,
(e.g. who fit with that culture) can be a basis for driving success – it certainly
seems to be so for Zappos.

Before I pull in some of the data from that article, let me ask you a question:

If you had only two metrics to use in an employee interview, one being
technical/business skills and  the 2nd some form of a personality style
or emotional IQ derivative… what would be measured on the 2nd criteria? 

I’m waiting… but I bet something specific doesn’t jump immediately to mind.

Personal fit often gets a very short shrift at many places, but with Zappos, it is
an (all) important data point to suggest that the business world just may
have it all wrong?

Zappo’s  “2nd” or personal fit criteria is key to their business success
and customer experience.   Or maybe it’s the CEO, Tony Hsieh’s, emphasis
upon this criteria.  Either way they have been phenomonially successful
in the past 11 years and it’s worth taking a look at.

Very briefly, Zappos began selling shoes and other products online in 1999.
In 2009 they were included in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for, and
were purchased by Amazon for almost $928 million in Amazon shares.

Here’s part of the secret that intrigues me.  Only 1 in 100 pass their hiring
process “that is weighted 50 percent on job skills and 50 percent on the
potential to mesh with Zappos’ culture.”   Then they have to pass a 4
week training “show us your stuff on the job” process… all to be included
in an 1800 person culture in which:

1. Back stabbing and ladder climbing is out – “humbleness” is in
2. Creating fun and a little bit of wierdness is a working value
3. A “happiness survey” takes the pulse of the organizational culture monthly.

The article’s author,  Dick Richards, writes, ” Zappos has a belief that the
right culture with the right values will always produce the best
organizational performance, and this belief trumps everything else.”

Whether that belief matches yours or not; whether it is the
“trump” card or not; it certainly makes you wonder, what
would it be like to work at a place where humbleness and happiness
are keys, and playing politics gets you kicked out.

Bottom Line:
Zappos offers a very interesting alternative to hiring new employees,
managing organizational culture and driving business success, with
great results to back it up.  Maybe Jesus’ statement in the gospels,
the meek (humble) shall inherit the earth” really is true.  Based
upon Zappo’s information, it looks relatively rare (less than 1%),
and very directly linked to success through collaboration and
creation of a good user experience.

Why New Hires Fail – what to look for when hiring
Performance Reviews; Do they Fit

2 Comments. Leave new

People on the Bus and Performance (1of2)
December 17, 2010 12:10 pm

[…] The Payoffs of Choosing the Right People Project Management + Task Mangement + Performance Management = Strategic Management Share and […]

Tosha Meyerman
January 17, 2011 2:59 pm

Thanks for a impressive article; I enjoyed it very much.


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