Measuring culture fit is shaping up to be one of 2016’s more controversial topics. Recruiters are pretty agreed that assessing more than just a candidate’s skills and experience is important, but what “fit” really means is up for grabs. The thing that’s missing from many of these discussions is the implied follow up question: Fit with what, exactly?
I remember being a kid, going shopping for school shoes with my mum. Parading back and forth in front of that tiny, knee-height mirror, stopping periodically for mum to squish the toes and check there was enough room for my feet to grow over the school year. You see, every parent knows the universal truth of children is that they’ll always grow out of their shoes.
The same truth applies to business. Any organization, regardless of size or stage, is always growing. Hiring more people, growing into new offices and complexes, expanding or innovating product lines, adding new revenue streams.
Business is about growth. Surging forward. Growing into bigger shoes.
So why do we not apply this truth to company culture?
The concept is simple: We know business is about progress and growth and moving forward. And we know culture is the heart of a business. Logically, culture should also be growing and progressing and moving forward, shouldn’t it?
That means when we’re planning and building and thinking about corporate culture, we should remember it’s an evolving thing.
The culture you have today, is only a stepping stone to the culture you could have tomorrow.
In the same way as we constantly refine and improve our products to improve customer loyalty or generate more revenue, we should also be constantly refining and improving our company culture to create happier, more engaged, more productive people.
It’s an infinite progression. There’s no point where you sit back and say “Hurrah! We’ve achieved maximum culture. Let’s stop improving and evolving now”. Your culture, like your business and your kid’s feet, will always keep growing.
Hiring for culture fit the way you shop for kids shoes
What’s the first step most people take when hiring for culture? Usually, it starts with assessing the culture they’ve already got. Using tools like Culture Amp or the Denison Solutions favoured by many of the Fortune 500 companies, you can define your current culture pretty accurately. But here’s why using that as the benchmark for measuring culture fit is dead wrong.
Looking for a fit with something you’re going to outgrow doesn’t make any sense.
Instead, finding someone who will help influence and create a better version of your culture – who will help push your culture forward in a positive direction makes more sense.
Culture development is a strategic role. Thinking about how your culture needs to shift and grow is part of setting your culture strategy.
Hiring the way you buy your kid’s school shoes means considering how your culture is likely to grow, and what kind of person will help craft that next stage of culture development and looking for a fit with THAT goal. Not just considering a fit with how your culture looks today.
So when you’re shopping for new talent to join a team, take a moment to remember that space in the toe of your 8-year-old’s school shoes and think strategically: How is your culture going to change and grow over the next 12months? Is this candidate going to help drive that growth?
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