What Is Cultural Fit, And Why Is It Important?

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.

Culture Matters

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 defined as the level of alignment between the values, beliefs and attitudes of a potential employee, and those of the organization.

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.

Evolving Practices

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.

The second was to hire an operational manager, specifically someone with HR know-how and experience of embedding a culture within an organization.

Introducing Your Operational Soulmate

Entrepreneurs like you are visionaries, but that’s only half of the puzzle. The organizational culture will be set by you, based on your values and beliefs, but it needs someone who can translate those values into action, embedding your company’s culture and ensuring everyone is a good fit.

Having this person alongside you is so important in that key growth stage when your business starts to expand its workforce, because it’s crucial at the early stages to get everyone facing in the same direction and excited about what they are doing – which they will be if they share a belief in your values too.

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.

When I explained this to John I immediately sensed a shift in his mindset. Where he had been edging toward despair, he now had a look of unwavering optimism and determination to scale the business at the pace he had always intended.

And it worked: with everyone in alignment behind a strong corporate culture, they were able to work together to make something really special and the business went from strength to strength.

If you would like us to do the same for you by finding you your organisational soulmate, call us today for a free consultation.

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