Corporate Culture - Cult or Cultivation?

Corporate CultureI recently read an article online on hiring people for the “right fit”. Meaning, “Did they fit the corporate culture?” The author’s point was that hiring for the right cultural fit may be the wrong thing to do – that it may promote a lack of diversity in personality types and work styles in the company that may stifle its growth.

The discussion thread that followed was interesting in that there were reservations about hiring people who were outside the culture. Part of the discussion was about defining ‘culture’. Is the company culture simply a kind of nostalgia, or is it so powerful that it is more like those first four letters – CULT – and the negativity that it conjures up. Is the organization’s culture so driven and aggressive that it burns people out? Or, is it a laissez-faire atmosphere where people tend to take things for granted? Or, is it something else?

My take is that a company’s culture needs to support the long-term health of the organization by encouraging employees to do the right thing, inspiring employees to want to work there and exciting customers to want to buy from them.

Nostalgia, as it relates to corporate culture, consists of the anecdotes that demonstrate the culture in action and is the mortar that holds it all together. If you have a sound culture built around the right concepts for your organization, then not hiring for that fit disregards and erodes the culture. If you lose your company culture, the company becomes soulless. It loses its identity and reason for being a successful, prosperous and growing organization, that doesn’t just employ people, but provides them with a career experience that causes them to grow.

So, when a company can hire someone who will advance their culture, they should opt for that candidate – as long as that culture is worth advancing.

Are you looking to hire or are you in transition? Be sure to check out this prior post on Job Trends in Architecture, Engineering and Construction.

"We tend to think we can separate strategy from culture, but we fail to notice that in most organizations strategic thinking is deeply colored by tacit assumptions about who they are and what their mission is.”

Edgar Schein, Professor MIT Sloan School of Management

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