The Slam Dunk Hiring Question WD-40 Asks

Every company should strive to have a tribe of stellar people whose skills and personal attributes match the company’s core values.

Unfortunately, in many companies, hiring for values alignment is done poorly, if at all. Hiring lessons are learned the hard way, by suffering the financial and reputational consequences of making the wrong choices. But if you care about building a strong culture and an aligned brand, the company that makes the familiar blue and yellow can with the little red top can teach you a few things.

WD-40 has kept its values aligned for over six decades by making them the heart and soul of the company. On its culture homepage, WD-40 has the following message for applicants: “Please consider employment with WD-40 Company only if you feel as strongly about our values as we do.” Further down the page, to the right of a big red call to action to Apply Now, is the slam dunk question: “Do our company’s values resonate with you?” 

This one incredibly powerful question holds the key to WD-40’s strength as a culture and here’s why:

Values Alignment

Achieving values alignment can be a challenging process, but the rewards are many: happier team members, higher performance, lower turnover rates, happier customers.

WD-40 knows that when people share the company’s beliefs and values, care about the work they do, and understand their personal impact, they work with a deeper purpose, not just for the paycheck.

The proof is in the numbers. According to their 2016 global engagement survey, 92.4 percent of WD-40 employees are excited about the company’s future, and 92.3 percent agree the work they do at WD-40 gives them a sense of personal accomplishment.

Whether you put it on your Web page for the world to see or include it in your job descriptions, “Do our company’s values resonate with you?” should find its way into your hiring process early. When values are placed at the forefront where they rightfully belong, you’ll find people who believe what you believe. This leads to a stronger team and a stronger brand.

Articulating Company Values

To look for values alignment in your own hiring process, you need to provide potential employees with the information they need to answer it.

WD-40 does this with a website full of rich, cultural content that describes what the company is and what it cares about, along with a video on their culture homepage presented by CEO Garry Ridge. There, he discusses the foundation of the company’s culture so people can make a personal choice about whether or not they want to work there.

Ridge explains how the WD-40 tribe differs from the average corporate team. “A team is something you play on to win in a situation or an event…a tribe is enduring; it’s there to build a purposeful company over time.” He goes on to discuss the human need for belonging, and how a tribe meets that need more effectively than any team.

By talking about purpose and belonging, Ridge teaches people about the company’s values while also positioning the company as a rewarding and enticing place to work– but only for the right people.

To attract talent who share these values, you must accomplish two things. First, you need language that clearly communicates the values in a format that’s accessible to potential applicants. Second, the values must personally resonate with applicants, so they feel strongly compelled to apply.

Embodying the Company Spirit

Many leaders have defined a set of values they expect their team to live by, but then fall short when it comes to consistently embodying and reinforcing those values themselves.

This leaves passionate, talented employees feeling disappointed and disengaged. WD-40 embodies the values from the top down because they know values-driven leadership is an inside-out job. Only then can they inspire employees to become caretakers of the brand and protectors of the culture.

Being transparent about the values that drive daily decisions helps WD-40 align its values amongst its internal tribe. It also shows interested applicants how those values would play out if they became part of the family.

Likewise, it’s important that you provide examples of how your company’s values manifest in day-to-day business operations. By explaining your company’s value commitment in specific areas, potential and current employees will have a better sense of what they can do to personally live the values.

This article originally appeared on Inc.

Sunny Bonnell

Described as a visionary thinker, Sunny Bonnell is co-founder at Motto. Sunny was named GDUSA's Top 25 People to Watch and has been featured in AMEX, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc. and more. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.