Hiring for innovation

Sebastian Hojas • Culture & Agile Advisor

In just five years, half of your workforce will have joined the company after today. That is, if you have an average turnover and growth rate. For fast growing or changing companies, the picture looks even more drastic. At Futurice, after just three years, the majority of our employees will have joined after this day. What does that mean for a company’s culture?

The people you hire today will, inevitably, define your values tomorrow.

hiring for innovation Churn: 12% Growth: 10%

Culture and values become alive in the daily behaviour of individuals. It is the way you talk to your colleagues in the morning, they way you give feedback, they way you approach daily successes and failures. Its face is revealed when big decisions are made, frustrations are expressed, and hard times are being endured.
But it can also manifest itself in the little things: by how messy bathrooms are, how money is spent, how meetings are run and most importantly how such issues get discussed and resolved.
Values and culture can never be created top-down - they are built, shaped and changed over a very long period of time. Sustaining them means hard, everyday work.
In a changing environment, culture also needs to develop and go with change. Newcomers are especially important for this task. With their unbiased, fresh perspective of an outsider they will have a better view on the blind spots of an organisation. It is, however, also the hardest time for anyone to push for change. Therefore actively tapping into the potential of newcomers by helping and encouraging them to push for change and innovation is crucial.

To hire for innovation, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are we actively encouraging newcomers to question current practises?
  • How do we react to questions, suggestions and criticism from new employees?
  • Will this recruit be able to challenge existing practises?
  • Will the candidate bring in new ideas from different backgrounds?
  • How does the person react when facing resistance towards proposed ideas?

At Futurice, we think that trust is not earned, but given. We believe that decisions should be made publicly and across the organisation. We dislike giving permission, and cherish people who take action and carry responsibility. We believe in growth and continuous improvement.
That also means that we have a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone who joins today, will develop our values further tomorrow. We do this by inviting every newcomer to our weekly operative financial meetings, to see how decision making is done in a business context. We invite all newcomers from different sites to meet up in Helsinki for a few days to explore and discuss, what it means to be a Futurician. And we hand over a credit card and encourage its use as soon as people join, to make a point: You are now part of Futurice, we trust you with everything that we have, with the knowledge that you’ll be the one pushing us further.

We also still have plenty of homework to do. We know painfully well how urgent tasks can overrule important ones, and how starting in such a flat hierarchy can be overwhelming at times. We will need to roll up our sleeves and not rest, until we have created a developing, innovative, safe and productive environment that fully serves its people and business. Luckily, change is our business.

If you consider yourself a change agent and forward-thinker, why not be one of the newcomers who will inevitably run the show?

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