Cultural fit or misfit – How to get it right

One of the realities that causes significant grief or anxiety in many companies is how to deal with employees who are technically competent or expert even, but may be a downright cultural misfit. Has this been your experience? What can you do or have you done about this? How could you manage this situation differently from the start to minimise it happening again?

I have found the best way to avoid this situation is to be clear on your company culture and how that impacts on the day to day working life of the company. Summarising a previous editorial, your company culture is made up of and expressed through the following; company Communications (style & tone) which Underpin & influence key stakeholder behaviour; the Leading/Lagging indicators which indicate key company goals and metrics; the True company values and Unique selling points which create the Reality of how the company is viewed, plus the Engaging or Energising aspects of why people work and deal with you?

When you have a clear picture of what your Company culture is and can appreciate how it influences employee expectations, you are better able to set up your employment processes to convey those messages, reducing the likelihood of an employer/employee cultural mismatch right from the start.

So what do you need to consider? It starts with your branding as an employer. You need to tell and sell your prospective (and existing) staff, what is key to being successful in working with you, then be consistently aligned to this throughout the whole employment experience.

Step 1) The Job description – what is the role, it’s objectives, tasks & responsibilities, include your company values, how will they be measured (KPIs), and what level of autonomy do they have?

Step 2) The Application process – what does your advert look and sound like, is the profile appropriate, does it reflect your company, if a company value is “Innovation”, is your application process fresh and innovative to attract innovative employees, or old, dull & traditional?

Step 3) Your Interview process & questions – Are they legal (to avoid discrimination claims), do they gain the comparable quality information you need from applicants, do you share what is important to the company and what it takes to be successful there to get it out there from the start?

Step 4) Employment terms & conditions – if a value is “People first”, do you reflect this in the remuneration offer or do you expect people to work long hours for little reward no matter what your “value” claims?

Step 5) Induction & training – Is their experience aligned to what has been “promised or inferred”? If a company value is “technical expertise/leaders”, are you giving them the tools to be successful?

Step 6) First 90 – 180 days (probation period) – are you doing regular follow ups with them, do you formally sign off on a successful or extended probation, do they know why or if they are succeeding or failing to date, technically or behaviourally?

Step 7) Management processes (Performance Development review) – If a company value is “Flexibility” are you really offering the ability for them to work flexibly to encourage their loyalty & engagement?

Step 8) Termination – when their employment ends, if you are terminating them, do they know why they have failed? If they choose to leave, do you know why they are leaving? Are you being fair and legally compliant?

Cultural fit is a two way street with a responsibility from both the employer and employee to ensure it’s a good match for both parties. The closer the fit is to an employee’s personal values, the better the fit.

So, take a look at your employer branding in the employment journey from start to finish and see what messages you are putting out. The clearer you are upfront, the easier it is for you to select the best employees and for prospective employees to match themselves with your company to get the best fit, saving everyone a lot of heartache!

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