by Nancy Owen, PHR
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, culture is:
- the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time
- a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.
- a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)
When it comes to your company, culture might be defined as “the personality” of your organization. Ultimately, it is made up of the beliefs, values, interests, upbringing and experiences of all your employees as a whole. Even their habits, good and bad, are part of it. Your employees develop the work culture and every new employee who joins your organization impacts the culture.
But the course is first set by the organization’s founder and executive leaders. They play a key role in determining the strategic direction of your organization including your core values and guiding principles as set forth in your vision and mission statements. These are foundational to your company’s culture. But it doesn’t stop with these statements or these key decision makers.
You can imagine how important the values of your managers and supervisors are when it comes to defining your culture. They are the ones that directly manage everyday production. The executives they report to and the founder before them defined it originally. Now your management team is further defining it as they conduct daily business. And so happens the trickle-down effect. If you hold a leadership role in your company, your values will greatly impact the actions of your workforce.
If you manage by walking around you can see and feel your culture. View the interactions of your employees. Notice the way they act in meetings and on the floor. Do you see team work or a lack of it? Even the objects placed in the cubicles or on the office walls show off your culture.
It’s no wonder your leaders want to hire only employees whose beliefs and behaviors seem to be well matched with your organizational culture.
An employee who is a good cultural fit will work well within your existing culture. But the employee who fails to fit usually leaves your company to find a work culture that is better suited to them…. Or they stay which could lead to bigger issue than just turnover. Employees who are not a good fit in your organization usually are not engaged. These are the ones that do not feel part of the organizations and it shows in the work they produce… or do not produce.
One of the main purposes of a job interview is to allow the decision maker to assess the applicant’s skills and to determine if they fit into the organization’s culture. The interaction in an interview is essential to this process.
This has many employers turning to behavioral interviewing. Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that past behavior predicts future behavior. Candidates are asked to describe how they handled specific situations in previous jobs. Candidates are expected to be able to describe a situation or problem, the action they took to resolve it, and what the outcome was. Their answers should reveal their work style and their behavior in certain situations. That will help the hiring manager determine if the candidate is matched with your company’s culture.
For example: Does the candidate work well on a team and appreciate the input of a variety of people? Or do they prefer to work alone the majority of the time and be an individual contributor? Depending on your culture, one of these could be a dream and the other a disaster.
How about the person that requires a flexible schedule to accommodate their children’s school activities? If your culture supports a rigid work shift and scheduled coverage then that candidate may not work well in your organization.
How about leadership candidates? Would a leader whose style is to strongly emphasize control fit into your organization? If your employees expect to have input and opinions heard and their commitments regarded, probably not.
Many successful organizations have employees who agree upon and mimic that organization’s vision, mission and purpose in their day-to-day work. That trickle down started with well communicated values and strategies.
So, a good cultural fit means the employee’s beliefs, values, needs and work style will fit comfortably in your work environment. The challenge for employers is to be aware of their company’s culture, and then identify and hire employees who fit their work culture.
If you’d like more information about hiring or any other HR issue, please email us at HRhelpline@eastcoastrm.com.
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