Culture is today’s buzzword. We hear about it in the business world, industries big and small. It is something that cascades through an organization from the top down. We hear about the culture of Google which has held the number 1 position on Fortune’s best places to work list 8 out of the past 11 years, to Uber who is still struggling to clear its reputation from repeated scandal.

It takes an effort to maintain an environment where people feel engaged and part of something bigger than they are. At ODL, we make orthodontic retainers. No glamour, no sex appeal. However, we always try to make the best product we can and continue to improve the experience a practice has with us as their lab.

We try to do it in an atmosphere based on family principles: Love, respect, kindness, discipline, and humility, our core values. I find that running an organization on that foundation not only helps us find amazing people to work with, but is a testament to maintaining a high retention rate.

We try to follow the adage, fire fast and hire slow. The typical course of action is, fire slow and hire quickly, usually done out of fear and a desire to keep the peace. Of course, the peace we think we are experiencing is often an illusion when facilitating a toxic environment. Moreover, when you hire too quickly, out of a need to keep your sanity, you are prone to perpetuating the same scenario. At the lab, we keep our focus on the hiring process. The time spent in the beginning pays dividends if done slowly and methodically with the right intentions.

When we interview new candidates, we focus heavily on the soft skills and their attitude toward others. We ask behavioral questions as opposed to leading questions. It is essential for us to know how they had acted in the past with others and were they humble enough to apologize in a situation when they were in the wrong. We do dexterity testing, and with the right candidate, the hard skills come in time. Soft skills, on the other hand, may not. We run a DiSC test on every candidate so we can see how they will not only fit into the position but more importantly the culture us business owners all covet.

The results are candidates who gravitate and add toward the culture, our ethos, as opposed to having their primary motivation be their paycheck. It is the difference between those who take versus those who provide. It will be those who give of themselves, in the end, who will have your back when things get tough.

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