Stop hiring for cultural fit
When companies hire, they tend to look for that perfect cultural fit. But is that all there is to it? The simple answer is no. If you want to keep your company culture alive and ready for the future, it’s time to turn that mindset around.
Try to picture your last job interview. Chances are high that you remember someone dropping the term ‘company culture’ and that they wanted to make sure that ‘you’re the right fit’. Nothing wrong with that. Culture lies at the heart of any organisation and, naturally, you want to attract people who fit the bigger picture and share the same norms and values, don’t you? Then it’s only logical to hunt for cultural fits, right? Well, we hate to break it to you, but you’re mistaken.
Don’t get us wrong. Having a strong company culture is vital for any organisation and the people you hire shouldn’t be the complete opposite of that. But merely focusing on the cultural fit can be a shaky ground on which to build your company’s future. It’s a dangerous mistake to perceive your company culture as something that’s set in stone, something defined. Nothing is riskier than assuming that after a certain number of years, you’re finally there: you have moulded the company culture into its final shape and only want to hire people that fit right into your company. That’s when things start going downhill.
Stop looking for fits, start looking for contributors
The people you hire today will shape the future of your company. Focusing on hiring for cultural fit simply doesn’t cover the load. Just ask yourself this: why would you want to hire people who fit perfectly into your current culture? Doesn’t that mean bringing in people with the same mindset, the same skills and the same qualities? What is the value of hiring someone who already thinks the same way? It isn’t challenging, and it won’t help your company prepare for the future. Hiring purely for a cultural fit hollows out the existing culture and stops the development of new ideas and aspirations. How’s that for shaky ground?
The most important thing to do is to change your focus from cultural fits to culture contributors. As we mentioned earlier, workplace culture is something that’s alive and needs nourishment. The future talent of your organisation should bring that nourishment to the work floor. Instead of looking for the perfect cultural fit, it pays off to find someone who doesn’t fit in seamlessly. Someone who brings new ideas, or someone who dares to challenge current mindsets to break the status quo. Those people will benefit your company as they bring diversity and innovation to your offices. They break the cycle. Don’t go looking for the egg that fits the dozen, but look a bit further for the odd one out.
Keeping culture alive
So how should you break the cycle? Although we say that you need to stop hiring for cultural fit, you don’t want to stop assessing, defining and articulating your culture along with its values, goals and practices. Recognising your current culture is the first and most important step towards starting to challenge it. Don’t be afraid to welcome new influences, and accept that your culture will change over time. It’s normal, it’s healthy and it allows for your company to discover new pathways and set up a path for growth.
Recognising your current culture is the first and most important step towards starting to challenge it. Don’t be afraid to welcome new influences, and accept that your culture will change over time.
Next, promote diversity and encourage people to disagree. Avoid becoming a monolithic block by creating a safe space for new ideas and don’t be afraid to mix things up a little. If a new joiner or colleague feels free to speak their mind and introduce new ideas, it opens the way for workplace culture to evolve and encourages teams to look beyond the safe environment of what they already know. Automatically, you’ll create a much more diverse and open-minded workplace.
The fertile soil for an evolving company culture comes from new hires. Your new rule of thumb when recruiting new employees should be to assess their cultural contribution capabilities. Try hiring people with diverse backgrounds, skills and personalities and avoid the pitfall of picking the usual suspects. Don’t start the hiring process with a set of boxes to tick to see whether the person fits in your company, but rather prepare questions that inquire about their individual potential and personal views on certain processes or strategies. You’ll reap the benefits later.
Talent nourishes culture
Company culture is a cornerstone of every modern business. And it’s essential to keep the noses in the same direction. Hiring for that cultural fit instinctively seems like the right thing to do, but it carries a huge risk of smothering the culture that keeps your company on edge. Today, it’s about cultivating your culture and giving it room to grow. Hiring new people with new insights is essential to keep your culture alive and growing. The next time you’re hunting for talent, instead of focusing mainly on a cultural fit, ask yourself how that person will contribute to the success of your organisation. What’s that saying again? Contribution eats culture for breakfast?