Corporate Culture and its Impact on Staffing
By Greg Moore, Customer Relationship Manager and Career Coach
Over the last 15 years or so, the term corporate culture has been thrown about more and more and the workforce has become increasingly aware that the way an organization works has a tremendous, inevitable impact on that company’s success. Is your company’s culture collaborative, top-down, family-oriented, cutting edge? No matter the terminology, what’s important is the way your people buy in, live, or embody that culture.
From time to time, we as outplacement coaches work with people who are not a fit with their culture for any number of reasons, almost always for objective reasons. So let’s take a brief look at common cultures and consider the cultural impact on employee fit, especially regarding organizational leaders.
Corporate culture directs or influences the behavior of employees and explains the reasoning behind many of their actions. A corporate culture can include published corporate values, mission statements, visions, processes, and procedures. It also includes the training – formal and informal, that is given to new employees. It affects the way people and groups interact with each other and with clients and suppliers. Collectively, all of this becomes a set of assumptions, even subconscious, that guide behavior within an organization.
Common Types of Cultures
Top-Down Culture is characterized by a clear chain of command, layers of management, and an organization that assigns respect and power to these different levels. The military, government, and many large corporations demonstrate clear aspects of this culture type.
Market-Driven Culture can be somewhat hierarchical, but it is overwhelmingly driven by the great value placed on external relationships such as customers, suppliers, and community leaders. The prevalent belief is that success within these relationships will result in overall success. Many studies have shown this to be a culture that frequently produces excellent financial results.
Collaborative Culture (Family) is based on the thinking that best results occur when multiple team members weigh in on an issue but individual initiatives are rare. Studies around this culture show it to yield the highest employee satisfaction and morale. Organizations that utilize this culture type are frequently flat in terms of organizational charts. Loyalty is highly valued.
A Nimble Culture values flexibility and innovation. Leadership is frequently entrepreneurial in style and moderate risk taking is valued. An ability to read market conditions quickly and change directions by marshalling resources and communicating a new direction and the need for change are valued. This type of culture would seem chaotic to some of the other culture types – but is embraced by those with a fast-paced, responsive style.
The extent to which leaders of companies fit with their culture can therefore determine their future with that employer. When such a fit just isn’t there, you might think about saying these words to that particular leader:
- We have come to realize you’re not a fit with our culture.
- We’re moving in a different direction.
- To succeed, we need a different kind of management.
- Our organization is changing and we don’t feel you’re a fit.
Why is it Important to Have a Well-Defined Culture?
An employer’s culture provides the structure around which it works, the air, the “way things are done.” If an organization has a well-defined Collaborative culture, it might not work to hire someone who comes from a Top-Down culture – no matter what the candidate’s qualifications are.
Imagine a retired Army leader going to work for a highly casual, innovative online company where employees don’t have titles. This may work… but more than likely either the retired Army officer or the online company president wearing flip-flops will experience frustration.
And that’s why this concept is so important. Your company’s culture defines what you’re all about. So if that culture isn’t embraced, especially by leaders, trouble is inevitable. Simply put, a bad fit can be disastrous no matter how well qualified someone may seem. So, to avoid potential outplacement scenarios because of a bad culture fit:
- Seriously consider your company culture when building your staff.
- Openly discuss your culture when interviewing candidates, especially potential leaders.
- Celebrate your culture; be public about what makes your company tick.
- If you’re frustrated by a team leader who “on paper” has all the qualifications but you keep thinking “something’s just not right,” the issue may be a cultural disconnect.