The Importance of Cultural Fit – Part I

Whether you’re aware of it or not, ‘cultural fit’ affects everyone  in the workplace. In fact, the higher up you go, the more important it  becomes (and you thought it was getting easier!).  This is partly as a result of  the new way we view our work.  The old expectations – that an employer would hire us at age 22 and provide us with a gold watch at age 65 – are gone.  We  now expect to work for several employers, possibly with more than one occupation.  New research suggests turnover is often caused by poor cultural fit,  where the values and beliefs held by the wider organization differ from the individual’s. Essentially, the wrong fit can make a high performer far less effective.

Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, and behaviours shared by a group – it’s the unspoken way we relate to each other.  When dealing with a thorny client issue, do  employees bend over backwards, or avoid calls? Does the CEO solicit ideas, or does everyone solve problems by themselves? The strength of these relationships ultimately affect the success of the you as an individual, and the broader organization.

If you are considering a promotion or a new role, here are some helpful hints to choose the right culture for you!

1) Begin by knowing a bit about yourself. There are excellent Behavioural Analysis Assessments available online (ie. DISC, Myers-Briggs, etc).   Discuss the results with  someone you trust.

2) Evaluate the criteria that are important to you, which might  include: sustainability, community involvement, sports activities, flexible working hours, parental leave, etc.

3) During the interview process, ask individuals how they would define their culture. A great question to ask is, “What kind of person thrives here?”, or “how do you get things done around here?” These questions go to the
heart of operating norms. You should expect a relatively consistent response across different levels of the organization!

4) Consider that the culture of your immediate group/division may be slightly different than the overall organization.

5) Finally, before you accept the new role, use your network to verify your own conclusions. Former employees provide excellent information. Also consider speaking to external consultants and suppliers, they’ll have a
slightly different perspective on both culture and efficiencies.

There are so many exciting and diverse organizations, with different goals and attitudes – choose one that is right for you!

~ Julie Steele

photo credit: oskay

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