What Is Cultural Fit, And Why Is It Important?
Written by: Greg Weiss
For those who love the entrepreneurial life, there is nothing more thrilling than those early days of a new venture when you and a close knit team of friends are working on something that feels really special.
There’s that buzz of excitement and sense of possibility as new clients come on board, even more so when the level of business means hiring one new staff member, then another to keep up with demand.
But as the staff base grows, many founder-owners find that the old magic from the early days starts to dissipate. They may even find the atmosphere within the organization growing toxic. Often – especially if the staff are competent – it’s not entirely apparent to the owner why this has happened, and they start to blame themselves.
That was the case with a recent client, who we’ll call ‘John.’ John was running a business in the software industry which he’d started with the help of a small dedicated team. They had worked their socks off in the early days to overcome hurdles and make it into profit, and things were going well. With clear objectives and a growing client base, it was soon time to hire developers.
John assumed that any would do as long as they had the core skills required. But as each new hire arrived, the camaraderie of the once close-knit team faded a little. Now with a staff of ten, mutterings and murmurings were heard around the office. Even John began to lose his enthusiasm for coming into the office each day.
What went wrong? Put simply: The recruitment process hadn’t taken cultural fit into account.
Cultural fit can be defines as the level of alignment between the values, beliefs and attitudes of a potential employee, and those of the orgnization.
With younger employees putting a company’s culture above even factors such as salary when deciding whether to accept a job offer, a good match between the organization’s culture and that of the new recruit is more important than ever.
When scaling a business it’s important to take into account the fact that the culture will naturally evolve as the company grows. Your values and beliefs are likely to remain consistent, but what is considered acceptable conduct among four or five friends doesn’t necessarily translate to a business of 35 employees.
In John’s case, the management structure in his business was still too flat – a hangover from the start up days. This had resulted in a lack of cohesion among the new staff, and meant that John was spending far too much time on operational management, which was distracting him from growing his client base.
Consequently, there were two things that needed to happen to get his business back on track.
The first was restructuring the organisation, putting those much-needed management systems in place. This person needs to be your ear to the ground, an organiser, a people manager and a doer.
Someone who can perceive the needs of your business and hire staff who can flourish both professionally and personally.
Just as important, you need someone willing and able to step in and eliminate toxic traits in the workplace before they bring the whole organisation down.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg authored 3 practical Career Books, and 1 Book helping Visionary leaders scale their businesses. He is one of Australia’s most experienced HR consultants and leading career coaches. He is the founder and owner of Soulidify and Career365. As an entrepreneur/business owner, Greg has experienced first-hand the joys and frustrations of starting and growing one’s own business.