Uber's Problems Are More Common Than You Think

Just a few days ago Uber President Jeff Jones announced he would leave the company. In a public statement to Recode, Jones explained, “it is now clear…that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.”

A formerly successful CMO at Target, Jones struggled at Uber and left after only six months at the company. Clearly there was a problem, but what? Jones was well qualified for the position, had extensive expertise, and joined Uber excited to make an impact and help the brand reshape its image.

His objection to Uber was not the product or the difficulty of the job: it was an “inconsistency” between his company’s values and his own.

This very public and high profile example highlights what is actually a fairly common problem: qualified employee attrition. So often companies make hires that are qualified and competent, but that leave within a year. What Jones articulates in his letter is true across sectors: hiring just based on qualifications isn’t enough. If employees – at any level – do not share the values of their employer, they will leave.

This trend is bad for employees and companies alike. Employees often feel angry, disappointed, and frustrated that they just can’t quite fit in, and companies are forced to absorb the huge costs associated with losing an employee, including expending significant hours and resources to hire a replacement.

Clearly, we need a better approach.

Instead of continuing to use systems that result in public blowouts and frustrated employees, companies need to reimagine their hiring process to include early and up front conversations with job candidates about their organization’s values. In fact, they need to incorporate values-based hiring into every step of their hiring process.

Whether you work at Uber, HBO, or Coca Cola, values play a huge role in shaping your company culture, employee satisfaction, and team effectiveness. Many Uber employees, for example, thrive in what appears to be a highly competitive and highly confrontational environment. However, as Recode reports, “[Jeff] Jones does not like conflict.” While Jones is more than capable of carrying out the tasks his job required, he wasn’t positioned to thrive at Uber, where basic interactions between management, staff, and drivers are often heated and tense.

By incorporating company values into the core of the hiring process, organizations can optimize 21st century hiring best practices while also finding candidates that will succeed in their unique corporate culture. Beginning with drafting the job description, companies must identify the capabilities, capacities, and values that matter most for that position. Does your company value customer service over innovation? Are you driven by a belief in building a trustworthy reputation? Or does your company thrive around a shared commitment to sustainability?

None of these approaches are right or wrong – and there’s no one set of values that will make a company successful. However, failing to integrate these values into your hiring metrics – from job descriptions to interview questions – will hamper your ability to hire the diverse, creative, and effective teams that can drive your mission forward and yield the kind of innovative solutions that every company needs to succeed in today’s fast-moving market.

Unlike hiring for “fit” – a strategy that often results in homogenous teams – values-based hiring allows companies to continue to find diverse applicants but also to align new hires and whole teams and organizations around universally held core beliefs.

We have the technological tools to help companies make qualified hires, but we need to go a step further. It’s time to pair those tools with a values-based strategy, and ensure we don’t just make good hires, but that we make the right hires.

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