Monday, April 27, 2015

Digital Master Tuning #78: What is Cultural Fit

More often, you need the "Misfit Mind" to Innovate Culture; and you need Cultural Fit for Harmonization.

Culture is invisible, but it's one of the most critical factors in business success. If you ignore it, "culture will eat strategy for lunch." From talent management perspective, how one would define the culture prior to determining if someone is a fit for that culture. Is that definition based on a rigorous scientific study of exactly what their culture is, so they know what attributes fit and what don't, or what attributes would compliment? Is the definition coming from the organization based on what they 'think' their culture is, or maybe even what they want their culture to be, not necessarily what it is. Is it coming from their external perception (based on marketing or other elements) of the teams who locate the potential hire? Are people more worried about NOT hiring the person they should hire; or HIRING a person that they shouldn't hire; For the organizations that want to rejuvenate the culture, shall they hire “culture-fit” or a "misfit"?

What is the culture - Culture is the collective mind, attitude and behavior? How does the employer prove what the culture actually is? Some places will have their culture embodied in workplace posters, policies, intranets etc. Others won't. If you can't prove what your culture is, then you are leaving the way open to infer that "culture" is just a shorthand way for perpetuating whatever demographic imbalances already exist within the workforce. Culture fit DOES matter, but it's hard to explain it, it is more about looking for candidates who exhibit certain behaviors, the term cultural fit can mean different things to different people. We have to be careful in how we use the term. We also have to be aware of our own biases. There are different kind of fit: mind fit, job fit, organizational fit, vertical fit, etc., Philosophically, “too fit” is not always a good thing, it perhaps means that you build the homogeneous team and cause the cognitive blind spots; or have people stay in their comfort zone too long, and create friction to changes. Hence, organizations need to hire the change agent with the “misfit” mind, but positive attitude to innovate their culture when necessary.   

Culture needs to be well defined. Unless the culture is clearly defined, and it can be demonstrated how those cultural components drive positive business results, then you should not be hiring for cultural fit. Further, once that is established, it must be shown that the selection process used to evaluate "cultural fit" is objective and systematic. Cultural fit is an integral part of an individual's acclimatization process with the organizational cultural fit (or the absence of it). It has a significant impact on performance. In some cases, a candidate is being accepted or rejected purely on the basis of cultural fit - for while the cultural fit is an important factor, it can't be the only parameter of selection. The organizations need to improve organizational culture maturity from functional to high-performing. We are all creatures of our cultural conditioning and we all have a bias based on our cultural values (many of which are unconscious). On a more micro-scale, it's fair to acknowledge that there are different cultures in different companies. "Cultural fit" seems to imply that such circumstances would either secure a content committed employee or an employee who would ensure some measure of high performance for the team, division, and company: the creation of a high performing, motivated, committed and engaging employee. Of course, that will also depend on whether the culture is currently functional, high performing, productive and resilient, or the dysfunctional culture which needs to change.

In face of today’s digital dynamic, culture fit for digital transformation is strategic imperative, because you need employees who have the growth mind to continue improving with the positive attitude, who can quickly learn and adapt to the changes with agility, who have the self-discipline to work effectively and efficiently at remote locations, and who can think differently to spark business innovation. More often, you need the "Misfit Mind" to innovate culture; and you need cultural fit for harmonization.

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