By Michael Manning, chief relationship officer at Rocksauce Studios
Good experience and stellar references make job candidates stand out, but culture fit can be the deciding factor.
According to a 2016 survey, human resources teams often prioritize cultural fit when looking at recent college graduates—even over referrals, classes and grades. But evaluating fit doesn’t stop when you bring a new employee on board. Examining the culture of your team should be a regular, ongoing practice. After all, an employee who breaks the mold could run the risk of breaking your team.
Survival of the (Culturally) Fittest
Don’t get me wrong: diverse teams can lead to stronger work performance. Cultural fit isn’t about how well your employees’ personalities, ideas and opinions align. It’s more about whether all your employees operate during the same hours, exhibit the same core values and show common respect for each other.
At Rocksauce, our culture drives our team and guides our focus, leading to superior performance and committed long-term employees. Of course, people change over time, and a shift in alignment can cause serious rifts in the team. Because of this, we use benchmarks—including a core value assessment—in our annual reviews. We work with employees to determine how their values align with the company’s culture as a whole. Linking company values with employee actions can help reduce turnover and boost performance.
Know Thyself (and Thy Team Members)
Cultural fit is important to the entire team for interviewing, onboarding and beyond. A team that doesn’t play well together may encounter issues, such as poor communication and team collaboration. A cohesive team is necessary for time-sensitive projects where everyone needs to dig deep and work closely together. Of course, it can be hard to judge cultural fit without knowing what your company culture actually is.
Here are four ways to define and support that culture—and then stand by it:
1. Pinpoint the pitfalls. Think about values or characteristics you lack on your team. There will always be areas where you need growth.
2. Get list-y. Write a list of the top strengths and traits that your most valued teammates embody, such as punctuality or initiative. These are the points you’ll want to encourage in new and veteran employees.
3. Make it actionable. Attach an action statement to each core value. For example, if “honesty” is a core value, your action statement might be, “Build open and honest relationships through communication.”
4. Write culture questions. Build interview questions for both candidates and established employees that illuminate the traits you’re seeking. What environments do they thrive in the most? How can you encourage their willingness to go the extra mile and get the job done? What drives their passion?
Even the most qualified candidate or employee won’t be as effective if he or she doesn’t integrate well with your team or your core values. By defining and cultivating your culture, you set up your employees and your company for long-term success.