The importance of cultural fit when hiring staff should never be overlooked, writes Christine Khor
We don’t just work in order to pay the bills. If that were true, we’d be happy to do any kind of work for any kind of company, provided it covered our living expenses. But work plays a much larger role in our lives and our identities, causing us to care about what, how and where we do it.
This is where culture comes into the equation. A workplace’s culture is the union of a company’s vision, values and daily norms which create the acceptable behaviours of that workplace. Together, these elements create social cohesion and the sense of one team working towards a common goal. Some consider company values and culture to be warm and fuzzy but of no great importance to a business. Ironically, the truth is that there is nothing more important than this.
Your culture dictates the way people behave as employees. It influences how they make decisions, how they handle customers and how they treat each other. It will either retain valuable employees or send them running to your competitors. Too often in recruitment, culture fit is seen as a lower priority when compared to a person’s skills and experience. Some companies only pay attention to whether a person can do the job; not how they do it or whether they truly want to do it.
This is what causes problems within a culture. It is important to note however, that culture fit does not mean hiring people with similar personalities. It is not about hiring people you could be friends with outside of work. Rather, it is about hiring a diverse range of people that all hold the same values as the business. Hire for the culture fit, train for the skills. Skills can be taught but culture fit cannot, so it is important to determine whether a prospective employee will fit into a company’s culture before hiring them.
Define: The first step to crafting your workplace’s culture is to clearly define the vision and values of the business. If you cannot define the vision in under two sentences, it is not a clear vision. When it comes to defining the values, it is a good idea to get your whole business involved.
At Chorus Executive, we distilled our whole team’s suggestions into five values and agreed on the meanings behind them. It was a great team building exercise as well as a nice opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for the good work that we do. Communicate: The vision and values need to be communicated to all levels of the business and it requires buy-in from all staff.
Protecting your company’s values means showing your people how important they are and how they should never be compromised. This means that if there is non-adherence, it becomes a sackable offence.
Develop your Brand: Your company’s brand might be held in high regard by consumers but what about its employer brand? Communicating your brand as an employer is critical to attracting potential employees with aligned values. Behavioural Interviewing: A person’s values can be assessed through the actions they exhibit. A skilled behavioural interviewer will be able to tease out information by getting the candidate to use real life situations as evidence.
For example, if Honesty is one of your values, then you can assess whether someone shares this value by asking for examples of mistakes they’ve made and what they’ve done about it. This would give insight into whether they were honest about their mistake and whether they took ownership of it.
Onboarding: A well-structured Onboarding process is important to integrate new employees into the culture. Studies have also indicated that a strong Onboarding program can increase retention rates by fifty per cent and can improve time to productivity by sixty per cent. Crafting your business’s culture by communication and strategic hiring is a key element to the success of your business and ensures that everyone within the business is unified by a common goal. Values alignment is what makes a strong culture and a strong culture is what helps a business weather the storms of an ever changing economy.
Christine Khor is the Managing Director of Chorus Executive; a talent management company focussing on the recruitment, coaching and personal branding of executives. She is also Chair of The Hunger Project’s Victorian Development Board and a finalist for the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Award. Her book “Hire Love: How to hire passionate people to make greater profit” has recently been published. Visit www.chorusexecutive.com.au