Are you a “High Yang” employee?

Are you going to blow up my organization or not?

When interviewing (or being interviewed) someone for a sales position I’m always thinking about fit. More to the point, I’m trying to figure out if this person is going to help build the kind of culture we want or will they be a barrier. And the higher up you get in the organization the more critical this question becomes.

In my experience there are macro and micro cultures within every company. Macro is set from the top down, the CEO and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) sets the overall culture for the organization. However, within this macro culture will exist several micro cultures. They will usually be found in the first 3 levels of each operational group.

Below is a diagram showing how these cultures manifest themselves. Each colour is a different functional group and could in turn be its own culture. Let’s explore the green group, the overall leader (#01) sets the macro culture and then within that numbers 1-13 experience the culture of 26; their own micro culture. 16 through 21 and 29 have their own micro culture and so on…

So this leads us to the big question: “How do you hire for culture?”

According to ClearCompany, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures, not a lack of skillset.

Almost every team I’ve led has had a top performer who was a tyrant in the office. They would consistently produce great financial results and they were fantastic in front of customers but when they came back into the office they left a wake of broken people behind them. When they were confronted these people would always default to “look at my results!” which allowed me to have some direct conversations with them about their role, their whole role….

Try thinking of every role in your organization as being made up of two sides, a Yin and a Yang. The Yin is made up of the hard skills, knowing what needs to be done in the role. The Yang is the soft skills, this is the how things will be done.

Therefore I believe Yin = Results and Yang = Culture.

In the example above these individuals had very high Yin and very low Yang, they were effective at generating results but people hated them – think Steve Jobs. Now think of people whose Yin and Yang are both high, like Richard Branson. He drives results and makes tough decisions but how (Yang) he does it makes him loved by his employees around the world.

Almost every interview I’ve been involved in focuses exclusively on the Yin, the skills required to do the job. If you are really dedicated to creating a firm culture you need to spend at least 50% of your conversation focused on the How

So, when talking to your boss about a promotion or when doing an interview for a new role make sure you can clearly articulate your Yin and Yang. And if you are a hiring manager make sure you understand how their Yang will line up with the company culture, especially in leadership positions.

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