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Nokia's hiring practices and its culture

An article in the readings file discusses Nokia's hiring practices and its culture ("At Nokia, temperament is a core competence" from Research Technology Management).

? Please describe two other aspects of the organization you would like to observe to see if the company has developed its corporate culture at the deepest levels. Why do you choose these areas to observe? Include examples of artifacts or behaviors in these areas that would match with Nokia's culture as described in the article.

? What are two additional practices that would show that Nokia is committed to the entire enculturation process to develop its culture, not just selection?

? Name one aspect of Nokia's culture that overlaps its home country culture, and explain how the two are similar (please do mention the source for any observation about Finnish culture).

Essay 2 Reading:
"At Nokia temperament is a core competence"
John Blau. Research Technology Management. Washington: Jul/Aug 2003.Vol.46, Iss. 4; pg. 6
In just over a decade, Finland's Nokia Corp. has transformed itself into the world's largest supplier of high-tech mobile phones, creating along the way an innovative and entrepreneurial culture almost unparalleled in the telecommunications sector.
To retain this entrepreneurial spirit, Nokia has established a set of values and behaviors across all units and embedded them directly into its screening and selection processes as well as its performance management system. A key component of its values-based strategy is the focus not only on technical skills but also on attitudes and behaviors critical to the creative spirit of the company.
Put another way, when hiring researchers and engineers, Nokia is almost as interested in temperament as it is technical credentials. Its motto: You can teach technology in the company much easier than you can interpersonal skills, if at all.

Personality Counts
For sure, the ability to find the "right" person to fit into the Nokia team is one of the company's core competencies. Yet the search for the talented software engineer or researcher who can thrive in the Nokia environment requires the company to pay great attention to personality and behavior, admits Veli-Pekka Niitamo, director of global strategic resourcing at Nokia's headquarters in Espoo, just outside of Helsinki. "Temperament definitely plays a role," he says. "We want people who can work in a team, who can communicate and defend their ideas and, equally important, who can accept different opinions."

The Nokia culture, according to Niitamo, promotes intervention, contradiction and difference of opinion. "For us, teamwork isn't a vision of great harmony," he says. "We expect our people to come up with their own views and fight for them. We show a high respect for individuals who are prepared to take risks and are not afraid to admit mistakes. At the same time, we admire people for being humble, no matter how great their accomplishments are."

Core Values
At the heart of the Nokia hiring and management performance strategy is a group of core values that are translated into a set of entrepreneurial behaviors. The core values are:
* Customer orientation: seeing the customer as the basis of all Nokia activities.
* Respect for the individual: treating employees, business partners and customers with respect.
* Achievement: working toward a well-defined common goal and strategy.
* Continuous learning: constantly looking for ways to improve performance and having the courage to pursue new ideas.

Entrepreneurial Behaviors
Nokia has translated these values into some 35 entrepreneurial behaviors, which include:
* Analytical thinking
* Applying knowledge
* Creativity
* Customer orientation
* Initiative
* Managing risks
* Openness to new ideas

These values and behaviors play a role in the early screening process, where Nokia relies on traditional screening techniques and regional assessment and development centers to narrow the pool of candidates. The company has 16 centers in 16 different countries.

In the final stages of the selection process, however, the focus on values and behaviors becomes much greater. Like many other technology companies, Nokia believes that technical skills are easier to assess and to learn than personal skills, which play a critical role in the company's team-driven culture.
However, assessing personal skills poses a challenge. As a result, the company relies heavily on behavioral interviewing to identify people it believes will thrive in its entrepreneurial, creative environment.

"We are fond of role plays, group exercises and one-on-one behavioral interviews," says Niitamo. "We put candidates into situations where they have to show their creative and entrepreneurial capabilities. And we do so in different ways to embrace the many diverse cultures we're dealing with."

Asking Questions
For behavioral interviews, Nokia has developed numerous review questions designed to help determine whether a potential hire has the behaviors and attitudes required to become a member of the team. The company has translated each of its identified behaviors into these questions. For instance, questions related to creativity could be as simple or difficult as: What is the most creative solution you have ever come up with? And have you ever shaped the vision of a project? Or questions related to initiative could be: What goals were set in your last project? And what goals did you set for yourself?

In posing these questions, interviewers probe for a situation or action in the answers to access the potential hire's previous experiences, capabilities, attitudes, and inclinations. Typically, the interviewers come from the Human Resource (HR) department and line management, which are responsible for most hiring, according to Niitamo.

"We have what you could call generic templates for behavioral interviews, though we grant sufficient flexibility to line managers and other groups hiring people." he says. "We apply these templates loosely. We don't want to be too rigid because we're very interested in diversity. Diversity drives creativity."

Traditionally, Nokia, with a workforce of 51,750 of which 19,580 are employed in research and development, has hired approximately 1,000 researchers and engineers every year, mainly because they come from the universities with entirely new skill sets. "Some of Nokia's success, clearly, is that we have been able to continuously bring young, talented people into the organization, without pushing them down any one particular career path," Niitamo says. "We provide them with an environment conducive to learning, allowing them to develop their talents and progress naturally within the organization."

In sum, Nokia has developed a screening, selection and performance scheme that seamlessly integrates its corporate values, behaviors, performance standards, and development components. The company communicates its expectations openly and clearly to potential hires and employees.

Nokia considers its emphasis on behaviors and attitudes, in addition to technical skills, and its focus on entrepreneurialism and creativity, to have been critical factors in its success to date. It is confident that the same emphasis will ensure its growth in the future.

[Author Affiliation]
John Blau, contributing editor, in Dusseldorf [email address removed by system]

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Please describe two other aspects of the organization you would like to observe to see if the company has developed its corporate culture at the deepest levels. Why do you choose these areas to observe? Include examples of artifacts or behaviors in these areas that would match with Nokia's culture as described in the article.

One of the other aspects which I would like to observe to see if the company has developed its corporate culture at the deepest levels is the degree of decentralization in decision making in the organization, which describes the authority and responsibility to take crucial decisions at the lower levels in the organization structure. Nokia has again and again stressed on entreprenuerial ...

Solution Summary

Nokia's hiring practices and its culture