Cultural Fit – A Nebulous Taget

There is an ongoing discussion within our industry about what the primary key performance indicator for success in a hires is. We all accept for the most part as organizations we hire competent people. We hire individuals who on paper at least can perform the duties and responsibilities of the positions. Then we add this thing called do they fit the culture of the organization.

But what do we mean by culture fit? Is it some set in stone characteristic of the organization? How do we determine what it is a true cultural fit? Dictionary.com defines corporate culture as the distinctive ethos of an organization that influences the level of formality, loyalty, and general behavior of its employees. John Coleman in the May 6, 2013 edition of the HBR Blog Network wrote that there are six components of a great corporate culture. In which he said the six components are vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place. Typically we believe that the basis for this comes from upper management and works its way down through the organization. But the question has to be posed what happens to the corporate culture when the person responsible for its development leaves or is forced out. An example is what happens to the corporate culture at Men’s Warehouse now that the founder and CEO have been forced out. George Zimmer’s passion and view are now gone from the organization.

I had the opportunity to attend the local SHRM chapter meeting the other night and the speaker was Jeff Knight (@knightspeaker) who presented a program entitled Culture Rocks. During his presentation he made a very profound statement when he said that “the culture of an organization changes every time human capital assets join or leave the organization.”

Stop for a minute and really think about that statement. If we strive to find not only competent human capital assets but ones that fit our particular corporate culture – Individuals who believe and follow our vision, values, practices, narrative and place along with the organizational human capital assets, how do we do that if the target (corporate cultural fit) changes every time we hire someone or let someone go? How do we define our corporate culture when it is like the Midwest weather, changing every few moments depending on the whim of the environment.

While we readily agree that human capital assets have to function within our organizations, it is unclear whether corporate culture is a true indicator when it is a nebulous target changing constantly. If you are an organization with zero turn over we may be able to define that fit. However if you are experiencing any degree of turnover then we have an entirely different picture in play. The corporate culture you have today very well might not be the corporate culture in place tomorrow. It changes the playing field if only for a fleeting moment.

Consider your organizational culture, how does it change as the human capital asset population changes? Have you had the serious discussion as to the impact of the FTE changes? This morning it was reported on Good morning America that 70% of employees hate their jobs and/or their bosses. If that is true how does that affect your culture?

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