William Vanderbloemen on How To Hire & Fire Well (Part II)


Part I

These two blog posts are based on the book by William Vanderbloemen titled, Culture Wins [:] The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace (New York, NY: Post Hill Press, 2020). 


Vanderbloemen highlights the starting point of a company culture and writes that “the hiring stage is the most critical time and the best tool you have for creating a healthy culture” [48]. He further notes that “every time you hire someone, think about how that person can strengthen the team or weaken it” [49]. Vanderbloemen asks his own team: “When we’re functioning at our very best, what do we do that’s common to our organization but uncommon in traditional companies?” [50]

What has contributed to the success of his company? Vanderbloemen notes that their "number one referral source for new business was people we’d interviewed but had not hired” [60]. There can, of course, be “culture leaks” —actions that go against the overall culture. “A culture leak occurs when someone behaves in a way that contradicts the values of a company” [81]. 

He explains his hiring criteria: character, competency, chemistry, and culture [82-83]. He notes further, “I’ve rarely seen someone who doesn’t match the culture suddenly change to fit our values" [84]. He concludes that a culture problem is usually a hiring problem.

People come and go and that impacts culture. Vanderbloemen explains that “you have to accept that chemistry is seasonal and cultural fit is seasonal. People change, they have life changes, and sometimes they have to move on. That’s okay, as long as you don’t have a rapid turnover” [99].

He offers various nuggets throughout Culture Wins: 

  • Concerning firing, he reflects on the common mantra: hire slowly, fire quickly. He writes that “there’s nothing more expensive than making the wrong hire” [115].
  • “If you’re going to have a virtual aspect to your company, you’ll have to work twice as hard to glue your virtual people to those who work in an in-person space” [150].
  • “If you compensate people based solely on hitting their sales numbers or other goals, you’re encouraging bad behavior” [168].
  • “Building a culture based on performance can force your team members to think they have to hit their numbers no matter what” [170].
  • “Leaders and managers should think about making changes more quickly because people rarely change, and once you make the decision to let someone go, the process takes time” [180-181].
  • “Leaders who figure out their culture are going to have a hiring advantage and will be able to keep people longer” [198].

Vanderbloemen’s key conclusion: “The future doesn’t belong to the talented, but to the cultured, because culture trumps everything” [199].

To learn more about Vanderbloemen Search Group, read our blog post HERE.

To learn more about William Vanderbloemen's book, read our blog posts HERE.

In the blog post linked above, we discuss other nuggets from the book Culture Wins. “What is culture?” People would likely have a range of responses to that question. How would you respond? Like many things, you know it when you experience it, but it’s hard to describe. Further, what does culture mean in a work context? How is it measured and how is it understood? If you would like to learn the six most common questions regarding how to build “the culture” of an organization, this blog post is for you.