Training is Part of the Company Culture

Since many organizations have adopted the idea of hiring for cultural fit and training for skills, everyone is amping up their training to provide optimal support and growth. Training is becoming a core part of hiring, retention and engagement, and is therefore a strong piece of the company culture.

Mark Murphy, founder and CEO of Leadership IQ, has been part of some pretty interesting research on why so many hires fail within the first 18 months on the job. The study tracked 20,000 new hires. Of the 46% of them who failed within that first 18 months, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons, and a mere 11% of the time for lack of skill.

Zappos Gets It

If those numbers don’t prove the case for hiring for cultural fit, I’m not sure what will. Skills can be taught, attitude can’t. Zappos knows this all too well, and has created a system for hiring, training and retention based on this premise. Zappos has clearly defined and communicated their culture, brand and values. Their HR and management teams develop employee job descriptions, the entire recruitment process and even their training programs around them. For Zappos, who continues to lead the way in employee engagement and satisfaction, training and company culture are one. Of their ten core values, “Pursue Growth and Learning” is one.

These core values are a large part of training at Zappos. Their training teams lead employees through each core value, ensuring that every employee receives the same instilled passion about the company values. Their training program also covers the behavior that is expected to live the 10 core values at work. They have even gone so far as to provide training for perceived value gaps in employees. Something tells me that these values are extremely important to Zappos success.

Given the importance of strong values that are clearly communicated to the workforce, it’s not too comforting to learn that of the average workforce, 60% probably can’t define their organization’s goals, tactics, strategies or values.

Evaluations are also a large part of the training process. They give employees and management a time to get together, set goals and discuss their career path. Zappos has shifted the focus of these evaluations to include a strong emphasis on company culture. They conduct performance evaluations that include cultural assessments, feedback on their fit and training goals on how to improve. They have managed to infuse company culture into every step of training and the pay off is amazing.

Shawn Parr, CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy, believes that culture eats strategy for lunch. He said:

“Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy.”

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photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via photopin cc

Views: 150

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on March 21, 2014 at 6:24pm

Thanks Sean. This is good to hear.

If a company wants to be a corp-cult ("LIVE the 10 CoreValues!") it makes sense to hire perky young "Kool-Aid Drinkers".

As our friends at say:


Attitudes are contagious. Mine might kill you.

Happy Friday,


Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on March 21, 2014 at 9:19pm

Isn't "hire for attitude (culture fit), train for skills" a bit of an oversimplification? In most cases, don't we strive for both?

I don't know too many businesses that can afford to just hire a bunch of unskilled people who happen to be nice.

Zappos' well-publicized hiring and training practices fit their business model. As aspirational as their reputation is, there doesn't seem to be any examples of others that have successfully mimicked their methods with the same results. 

Since I'm not inclined to click a link to find out if there was something else to connect all of this, I'll guess the point is that Zappos has it's act together? 


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