Cultural fit is important, but always adhering to the process can push your organization into the clone-zone. Different views are crucial fuels for your innovation engine.

Hiring for cultural fit is the current Holy Grail across the entire spectrum of industries – including construction. And for good reason: for the most part, it makes perfect sense. Hire like-minded talent that fits with the goals and values of the company, and you’ll have everybody moving in the same direction.

The bump in the road happens when we stop to remember that innovation happens when you zig instead of zag. It’s an irritating grain of sand that causes an oyster to create a pearl. Cultural fit is important, but maximum adherence to the process can push your organization into the clone-zone. Different views are crucial fuels for your innovation engine. Here’s how to aim for like-minded talent without sacrificing diversity.

What is culture, anyway?

In the business world, we probably define it the way Sherly Sandberg introduced most of us to corporate culture with her 2013 PowerPoint stack called “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility.” The short version is that things go better for both the company and its employees when they share the same personal intrinsic values amongst themselves and the common vision of the organization.

There’s another definition of culture, and it comes from the world of food and drink. If you want to create anything from yogurt to wine, you must introduce substances to create change and transformation. Living organisms such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus convert pasteurized milk to yogurt during fermentation. Yeast is added to the juice pressed by grapes, and it converts the natural sugars to alcohol.

Adding more milk to milk will never make yogurt. Grape juice on grape juice will never create wine. You just get more of the same.

Fit versus add

Organizations embrace diversity, yet they strive for this thing called cultural fit. We are a sum of our experiences. It means that our approach to thinking has a foundation in our environment. In many ways, a company culture fit and its desire for diversity are mutually exclusive for that reason.

If a company chooses new employees based on sameness in thinking, they’re ultimately making selections that favor people just like them. True diversity, however, includes embracing people who think differently. Does this mean you should abandon cultural fit?

No. Culture does matter. An organization will tear itself apart if its people don’t share the same vision. But, instead of creating a monoculture, consider creating a culture that embraces thinking differently, welcomes new ideas, and values dissent.

A company’s vision is a future state. Its people can create that future state by adding to the culture instead of matching it.

Yes, you do want to assess people to make sure they agree with how the company behaves, how its employees treat each other and customers, and how decisions are reached. But, how they tackle the obstacles and challenges that get you to the future state of your vision is demonstrated by their uniqueness in thinking. It’s their adaptability.

So, the cultural fit might be better off being called values fit. Search for people who share what the organization has declared to be the necessary beliefs to achieve its vision. Then add culture. Like yogurt or wine, the purpose of culture is to transform and grow – not maintain stasis. Know that every person you hire will strive to hold your values, but they can change culture positively.

What shaped their thinking is their own culture, and it arms them with insights and perspectives that are different. Diversity is no longer just gender, age, or ethnicity. Today’s most successful organizations have moved beyond recruiting for cultural fit. They’re recruiting based on what an employee can add because of their diversity in thinking – which is a result of their background and experience. “More of the same seldom” ignites innovation.

No Boundaries Advisors has been helping businesses like yours grow and thrive for over 25 years. Contact us today to find out how our expert staff can help you meet your financial goals as you seek to grow.

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