The Vendor Relationship: An Insight into Company Culture? by Jackson David

#companyCulture #talentAcquisition #interviewing #cultureCreation #vendoRelations

As HR and Talent Recruitment professionals, we sometimes have the opportunity to sit on “both sides of the fence” – in the business, and as a vendor. Such is the case with my own career and many of those in my network. 

This is also the case for many of the corporate functions across the ecosystem; especially within Technology, eCommerce, Marketing & Creative, and Operations.

This is a topic I discussed with a former colleague a few weeks back. It resonated with me. So much so, I decided to write this month’s publication about the question that sparked from this friendly debate. 

“What insights does a company’s relationship with their vendors provide for active candidates?”

This especially includes vendors who are consultants on-site and are embedded in the company full-time.

I have a belief that more often than not, the way a company treats its vendors is a good indication as to how they treat their employee population. This is an alternative way to discover and measure the pulse of a prospective company’s culture before you jump in.  Who wouldn’t want to know more about its culture before signing on?

Friends and former colleagues, who have come to me seeking advice on their interview processes, usually begin with a question focused on how to obtain culture information.Culture is a big word these days. It is everywhere, as it should be! But, how does a candidate really get to the nitty-gritty of an operation, outside of reading Glassdoor (#glassdoor), or speaking with Hiring Managers, and HR/People Teams? 

Generally, a candidate does not have the opportunity to interview with company representatives outside of their own department. Therefore, it may be difficult for them to define a company’s broader culture – and not just the culture of the team they might join. Candidates want to know things like how does the company manage: employee work; relationships; conflict resolution; and growth?

I have developed a vendor relationship led Culture-Test. This is a tool for candidates to reference their potential future employer, or direct line manager, with vendor partners. It may provide greater insight not gleaned from an interview process. 

This is a “test” that could be used to assess either your desired company’s relationships with current or past vendors or your potential managers’ relationships with current vendors.

The V.E.N.D.O.R. relationship Culture-Test:

V – Verification: Verify the projects currently in progress. Is the project as far along as you thought or were told? What are the current challenges, and what role does the company play in creating and/or managing the projects to completion? Is there co-creation happening?

E – Engagement: How engaged does the vendor feel with the company? Is communication routine, clear, and transparent? Does the vendor feel engaged with the company at the biological level (EG: social causes, culture values, and performance management). Do they feel a part of the company’s team?

N – Negotiations: What has been the vendors experience with negotiations with this company? Were they drawn out, tough, easy, transparent, and collaborative? Did the vendor feel a sense of collaboration to get to an end result?

D – Delivery:  How does the vendor rank the delivery on projects? Was it smooth and was it a team effort between company and vendor? Was the delivery on time, and if not, why so and how did the company react to the delay?

O – Optimism: Does the vendor feel optimism from the company partners? When there is a snag, bump or change of course in the project; is the company optimistic with the vendor that they will work it through and reach the goals of the project

R – Responsibility: This is a big one. Does the vendor feel that there is shared responsibility for success?

In conclusion, this is a test that is likely not a one-size-fits-all.  As a candidate, it would be a good idea to resource whom you may know on the vendor side that is currently working with your desired company. They are a great starting point in this referencing conversation.

#culture #talent #talentAcquisition #knowledgeIsPower


Jackson David is currently the Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Sourcing, and Employer Brand at Etsy. He is also the founder of JD Talent Search + Strategies, a consulting consortium that works with start-ups and enterprise clients on executive search strategies, talent mapping, employer branding, and long-term talent strategies.

With now 20 years of both business and talent leadership experience, Jackson focusses a lot of his spare time on giving back to the community and supporting networking and product ideas to the Start-Up community. He is excited by creating pathways and mechanisms for people to reach success and is equally passionate about travel, family, and new technologies.