The Intersection of Profit and Culture: A Field Guide for Small Business

Shelley SmithBlog, Executive Coaching, home post, Leadership Development


Human Capital And Your Bottom Line

When we talk about Human Capital we have to also talk about the needs of a company’s culture, their mission, their vision and their values. Culture is created by your people and your people matter. How do you view your workforce; as labor and a line item expense or as an investment? When we invest are intentions are to create additional growth and wealth. How we pay attention to our investments can make the difference between a sucking sound coming from the bank or a Cha-Ching sound.

Which do you prefer?

Your employees, your culture have a direct impact on your economic performance. The right culture aligned between your staff and your goals can and will improve your dollars. Overall productivity rests in the capacity of you people and their overall engagement and satisfaction. The difference between functionality and dysfunction is found in your culture, via your people. I loathe the words ‘human capital’ it sounds like property.

Let’s rewrite those words, that view, that typical thought that our employees are a commodity vs. individuals contributing to the success with one common goal – an investment in the company and investment to their future, and to your future.


No, I don’t think so.

‘Human Capital’ sounds so archaic.  



  • Human Capital is typically viewed as an expense, the cost of having a business.
  • Human Capital is simply put, the labor force.
  • Human Capital, when profits are down, workforce is reduced? It is usually the first thing that happens.
  • Sales go back up, people are hired and you start all over again from the beginning. All efficiencies gained are now lost.


  • Our team members affect economic performance.
  • The team members are crucial to the organizations performance.
  • Productivity rests in the capacity of people.
  • Your employees are your greatest opportunity for continued growth and sustainability.
  • Your employees are your greatest competitive advantage.
  • Each individual can make or break a team, and company success.
  • People bring ideas and an opportunity for continued improvement.
  • Individuals should be invested in, they have unlimited learning and bring growth opportunities.

How do you hire?

The hiring process has had a series of evolutions that continues as we speak. Technology alone and the continual push for even more automation is very real. Over the years the process changes have included the additions and subtractions of background checks, drug test,  various assessments and more. In some ways, we have created hurdles and in other ways efficiencies. The reality, there must be a balance of automation to person to person interaction so we don’t leave out groups of people or continue to have unclear expectations of the job, thus causing a continual turnover. Turnover creates stress and profit loss to the entire organization and a negative effect on the economy.

Again, let’s rewrite this a bit.

When was the last time you tried applying to your organization? How did the process feel and flow? Easy? Hard? Warm? Welcoming? What about the interview process? Onboarding? When is the last time you looked at when the turnovers are happening and diving into the root cause? When is the last time you asked those that made it through their first 90 days and a year what was working and what wasn’t? How effective is your automation? How effective is your onboarding process? How clear are the job expectations and aligned training and onboarding in that role? How much feedback do you give? How quickly are you giving that feedback? Are you giving specific examples? Are you giving specific guidance on those intangible improvement areas? What does success look like during the hiring process?

Yes, ask more questions folks – of yourself and your team and your competitors.

If you could rewrite your hiring process, what does it look like, feel like, sound like, smell like? Can you see it, hear it, visualize it as an ‘experience’, a positive experience? One you are dying to repeat?


Typical Approach

Suggested Approach

  • The position becomes open due to someone quitting, walking off job, termination.
  • The manager puts in a request for hire.
  • If the position is already in the budget, open requisition goes to recruiter on staff or HR department.
  • If a new position, goes into budget review for approval.
  • Once approved, goes to the person who posts the job (recruiter, HR, admin)
  • The job is posted  based on historically ads/job description, in the normal places (online, maybe online paper, outside recruiter, indeed, other job sites, your website, word of mouth, etc.)
  • Resumes are sorted by the recruiter
  • A recruiter does phone and in-person interviews to further sort
  • Recruiter recommends applicants to the hiring manager for further interviews
  • Hiring manager interviews, makes decision.
  • Recruiter / HR sends offer letter and sets orientation date
  • Some pre-online paperwork is completed before start date
  • Every 90 days to 6 months, send someone on your team through the current hiring process.
  • Slow to hire, hire intentionally.
  • Understand why the position is open
  • Understand what the expectations of the job are
  • Understand any new opportunities
  • Understand if job description needs updating or creating
  • Confirm the  expectations of the job’s behavioral drives and needs
  • Confirm the needs of the culture fix
  • Place job ad with descriptions described to the needs of the job characteristics
  • If the job hasn’t been confirmed previously – 3 to 5 stakeholders need to weigh in on expectations to get everyone on the same page. Includes immediate supervisor, direct, recruiter, hiring manager, person successful in the job now.
  • Interviews should not take place without a behavioral and cognitive assessment of the individual and fit/gaps to the Job assessments.
  • Predetermine the behavioral questions you are going to ask ahead of time and what you are ‘listening for’ to investigate or confirm alignment.
  • Interview those with the best resume skill to behavioral/cognitive fits first.
  • Once hired, continue use of behavioral motivations during the onboarding process

How do you Retain?

Retention can be hard or easy. Harder if you never get to focus on it and always chasing turnover. Easy if you involve your team. Stop talking about retaining and creating engagement and do something about it. Whoever said talk is cheap, is right – actions are what matters. Your daily actions as the owners, the executive, the contributing team member. How are you showing up? All in? or waiting to see, collecting a check, complaining about what used to be or is missing now?

What is the biggest value you bring to the team? Are you bringing that daily? What is the biggest strength of your team, are you using it daily? If you don’t stop and focus on what is working and capitalize on it, you will never stop chasing your tail. You will keep spending zero dollars on training or some dollars on fixes (checking a box) and spend thousands on turnover.

Retention strategies are different for each company and the individuals working there. If you don’t ask and get them involved, then you are assuming or guessing at the solutions.

If you organization profit is upside down, look at your people – not a reduction in force – but solutions.

Retain or Handcuffs? Engagement to Retention through actions
  • Pay (competitive)
  • Benefits (same for all)
  • Perks
  • Incentives
  • Contests
  • Stay interviews
  • Promotions from within
  • Open communication
  • Pay (value of position)
  • Benefits (packages, choices)
  • Create Purpose (seen, valued, heard)
  • Employee Involvement on a continual basis
  • Personal and Professional career development at all levels (array of options)
  • Clear expectations in writing, with clear measurements (rewards and recognition)


My name is Shelley Smith, your culture curator. A company’s culture can make or break the long-term success and overall profitability. Your employees must be aligned with your mission, vision, and values. Their behavioral needs must be congruent with the needs of your culture and motivated to those needs daily. If you would like to know more about this process of inquiry please contact me directly at or visit me on my websites to learn more and Calling all Culture Curators to join the conversation, for more information about membership, join-me.