Tag Archive: Cultural Alignment

  1. Workplace Culture: 6 Common Misconceptions

    Workplace culture is critical to success. That’s what forward-thinking business leaders began to realize in the 1990s. Today, businesses that don’t prioritize workplace culture are falling behind.

    The idea of cultivating workplace culture for a competitive edge has become a top priority in talent strategy, and it’s a trend we’re seeing across industries. But, even with a heightened focus on workplace culture, it’s still widely misunderstood. Here are the 6 most common misconceptions about workplace culture:

    1. Pay and perks drive culture

    Workplace culture is all about the social systems that influence behavior within your organization. Every company has a culture, even scrappy start ups that can’t yet offer competitive pay and perks. (What companies like this can offer is the chance to be a part of something unique and meaningful.) Pay and perks are important, but so are other elements of culture, like company traditions, opportunities for growth, and how you involve employees in your company’s mission and purpose.

    2. The more employees, the better the culture

    When we think of strong cultures, we think of big, successful companies like Amazon and Google and Netflix. But size doesn’t make a company successful. Culture does. Culture is the catalyst that accelerates the growth and success of a business, which is what ultimately propelled Amazon, Google, and Netflix into elite status. Culture can also have the opposite effect, stunting your growth, or becoming severely disjointed or diluted as you grow.

    3. Emulating a strong culture will make our culture strong

    Many business leaders are hoping to emulate cultures like Amazon, Google, or Netflix in order to achieve success. Borrowing a practice here or there is not a bad thing, but trying to be “the next Amazon” is sure to backfire. Amazon’s culture works because the company has systems in place to attract, select, and retain people who share their values and will thrive in their work environment. Your job to understand and cultivate your company’s unique workplace culture.

    4. Culture is what is. We can’t control or manage it

    It’s true that culture is deeply rooted and slow to change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take action to influence or improve your culture. Companies that don’t manage culture end up with cultures that manage them. In fact, an un-managed culture can undermine your ability to execute business strategy. If culture management is new to your organization, start by making culture part of the conversation, and carve out time on a regular basis to talk about culture as a business goal.

    5. Reestablishing culture is too costly and takes too much time

    Reestablishing culture is a big undertaking, and it won’t happen overnight. But what’s the alternative? A strong culture is critical not only to your company’s success, but also to it’s survival. If culture is misaligned or hindering your growth, then you must make the investment. Even if your company has a strong culture, watch out for culture shocks, like hyper growth, a merger, or an organizational restructure, after which you may need to reestablish your culture.

    6. Non-work activities like ping pong are fun, but we can’t afford to lose productivity

    Company traditions are an important aspect of culture. Traditions bond employees together and give them the chance to interact with culture in a more tangible way–and the stronger the culture, the higher the productivity. But, that doesn’t mean you need to buy ping pong tables for your office. In fact, don’t buy ping pong tables if you’re doing so to emulate another company’s culture. Instead, come up with traditions that reflect your company’s unique culture and values.

    [vcex_divider color=”#dddddd” width=”100%” height=”1px” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″]

    To learn more about culture change, culture shocks, and culture management best practices, watch our webinar on demand: How to Manage Your High-Growth Culture.

  2. Culture Fit vs. Culture Add, and How to Ensure Diversity in Your Organization

    Organizational culture is more than a popular talking point. According to a 2018 People Management Report, 84% of employers say that organizational culture is critical to the success of their business. This widely-held belief has sparked countless conversations about organizational culture – including how to define culture, how to measure culture, how to manage culture change, and how to hire for culture fit.

    The topic of hiring for culture fit came up in a recent webinar on How to Reinforce Your Culture with a Strong Onboarding Process. I/O expert Chelsea Petrie had an excellent response when asked by an audience member:

    Culture fit versus culture add: What are your thoughts on hiring people who fit your culture, versus hiring people who will add to your culture?

    This debate that has gotten a lot of attention recently. Culture add has been defined as someone who shares the same values, but can bring something new to the team, while culture fit is often seen as ‘someone who looks like us and thinks like us.’ The underlying concern is that hiring for culture fit will lead to group think, and inadvertently discourage creativity and individuality among employees. This is also a concern in terms of diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

    culture fit

    Here’s how Chelsea explained culture fit versus culture add:

    “When we talk about culture fit, we’re talking about the values that are prioritized the most within an organization…

    For example, if you have a highly collaborative, team-oriented work environment, but you’re hiring individuals who don’t prioritize that value, you’re going to have a jangley culture, and it’s going to cause behavioral issues. You might start to see performance lacking, engagement lacking, and turnover occurring.”


    Chelsea continued by saying, “In the hiring process, I would definitive encourage that employers seek out a strong culture fit, and then look for the culture add piece in any role-specific knowledge, experience, or education that someone would bring to the table. Anything that’s above-and-beyond is fantastic!”

    For more insight on maintaining a cohesive culture, along with best practices for effectively onboarding new hires into your culture, check out Chelsea’s full webinar on-demand: How to Reinforce Your Culture with a Strong Onboarding Process


  3. Company Culture: How to Make It Your Competitive Advantage

    Company Culture Q&A with Catherine Spence

    In today’s highly competitive business landscape, 84% of companies believe that company culture is critical to the success of their business.*

    Catherine Spence, co-founder and head of product at Pomello, would agree. Pomello, an Outmatch company, is a culture analytics provider that helps companies understand and hire based on their unique CultureDNA™. In a recent webinar, Catherine answered audience questions on the importance of demonstrating cultural values, managing culture in a decentralized business, and hiring for culture fit.

    1. What’s the impact on company culture when espoused values don’t align with demonstrated values?

    Espoused values are things that might appear on the wall or in your annual report, but if they’re not lived or demonstrated, especially at the leadership level, it can be very damaging. It lowers employee engagement and creates confusion. You’ll see a breakdown in cultural alignment because employees are getting mixed messages about what’s important and what the culture really is. Living your values is critical, and you cannot pursue a culture initiative without having the buy-in of leaders. It also has to be aligned in the messaging and daily activities of your organization.

    2. How do you manage company culture in a consulting business, where most employees work at client sites?

    What’s interesting to note here is that company culture over distance still exists. The leaders that you have are still there. What you don’t have are leaders showing you on a daily basis how to live the culture. So, be proactive and thoughtful in your communication. For example, make sure that consulting wins are contextualized in values that you’re cultivating. Some companies that have been fully remote for almost their entire existence have some of the strongest organizational cultures because they pay so much attention to it.

    3. What are some questions you can ask during an interview to get insight into a candidate’s values or culture mindset?

    We recommend asking open-ended behavioral questions, particularly in the context of organizational culture. For example, if your company is highly focused on customer orientation, ask a candidate to give you an example of a time when he/she listened to a customer and it changed their behavior or response, and what did that feel like? What was their reaction? You can dig deeper and see if being customer focused is something that the candidate naturally geared to do.

    To learn more about the five key questions that will uncover your company’s unique CultureDNA™, how to use your CultureDNA™ to maximize employee engagement, and how to connect engagement analytics to performance metrics, check out Catherine’s webinar on-demand: CultureDNA™: How to Measure, Endorse, and Turn it into Your Competitive Advantage.

    *People Management 2018 Industry Report

  4. Onboarding Best Practices: Making Your Company Culture Stick

    Onboarding Best Practices with Chelsea Petrie

    When asked how well their talent acquisition processes reflect their company culture, only only 1 in 4 employers answered ‘very well.’

    That when I/O expert Chelsea Petrie, Talent Strategy Partner at Outmatch, shared her insight on how to improve employee retention, reduce ramp-up time, and increase engagement – all through a strong, culture-focused onboarding program. In the Q and A following her presentation, Chelsea answered audience questions about training, onboarding best practices, and cultural disconnects.

    1. What types of metrics do companies use to monitor onboarding success?

    There are three important ones:

    Ramp-up time: When you identify certain milestones that an employee should hit in order to be effective in their job, you can track whether are or not they are on target. That’s a really key indicator.

    Turnover: If you’re seeing a significantly higher turnover of new hires in the first 90 days, there’s likely a problem with your onboarding process.

    Employee feedback: Use a survey tool or ask for direct feedback from your new hires. They can give you great insight into what’s working and what’s not.

    2. What’s the difference between new hire training and onboarding?

    Training does take up a significant portion of the onboarding process, because you have to include job-specific training to ensure that new employees get up to speed quickly. But, training and onboarding aren’t the same thing.

    Training is tactical, where you’re teaching employees to understand their roles and responsibilities.

    Onboarding is about the overall experience of being welcomed into an organization, connecting with the company’s culture and purpose, and building those initial bonds with the people they’re going to be working with. Think about how you want new employees to feel during the onboarding process, then create an experience that reflects that.

    3. Are there ways to identify cultural disconnects or detractors during the onboarding experience?

    The best thing you can do is ensure that a candidate is a good fit before the onboarding process begins. You do this by communicating your company culture throughout the hiring process, and making sure the candidate is fully bought in. But realistically, you’re going to have some individuals slip through the cracks.

    Culture is made tangible through behaviors, so looking at a new hire’s behavior is an indicator of how well they embody the values of your organization. For example, if your organization values collaboration, but new hires aren’t following through on tasks to meet with others, or they’re not taking initiative to build relationships, you’ll know there’s a red flag.

    To learn more about onboarding best practices, and the payoff of a strong onboarding process, watch Chelsea’s webinar on-demand: How to Reinforce Your Culture with a Strong Onboarding Process

  5. Company Culture Handbook: 5 Reasons to Write One

    A company culture handbook is not the same as an employee handbook.

    A company culture handbook goes beyond company policies and PTO. Unlike the employee handbook, which often ends up collecting dust in the back of a desk drawer somewhere, your company culture handbook should be something that employees are constantly interacting with and contributing to. It should fun, engaging, and have information that’s valuable to new hires and current employees alike.

    Think of your company culture handbook as a living, breathing touchstone of your company’s culture – which, by the way, exists in your organization whether you’ve defined it or not. In a recent webinar on How to Measure Your CultureDNA™, culture expert Catherine Spence defined company culture as:

    A social influence system that already operates within your organization. If you don’t manage your culture, this social influence system can actually undermine your ability to effectively execute business strategy.”

    That’s why culture has been getting so much attention in boardrooms around the world. In order to manage your company culture, you first have to understand what your culture is now, and what you want it to be in the future. Writing a company culture handbook is the perfect opportunity to work through these important questions, and in the process, create a valuable document for your organization.

    Here are five more benefits you’ll get out of writing a company culture handbook:

    1. Demonstrate your commitment to creating a strong company culture. 
    2. Clearly define your purpose (the reason your company exists), and the impact you want to have on the world. 
    3. Educate current and incoming employees—at scale!—about the way work gets done in your company. 
    4. Empower employees to make independent decisions that align with your business strategy.
    5. Capture your company’s unique culture, with values and traditions that are true to you (and not adopted just because they sound good)

    Writing a company culture handbook that’s an authentic representation of your culture doesn’t happen overnight. To guide you in this process, check out 7 Steps to Writing a Culture Handbook.

  6. Company Culture and Cultural Issues

    Diversity and inclusion is an important focus for many organizations. But at its core, D&I is about more than maintaining equal numbers of individuals from different groups. You can fill your quota, so to speak, but what are you doing at a company culture level to be a truly inclusive employer?

    This was the topic of conversation for our company culture experts, Oliver Staehelin and Catherine Spence, who were recently featured on Business Radio “In the Workplace” by The Wharton School of Business.

    What cultural markers lead to issues such as gender inequality?

    Catherine and Oliver answered by explaining how measuring cultural values and alignment can reveal high-risk red flags where companies need to investigate what’s going within their organization.

    Catherine: “What we’re asking employees is to observe the culture around them. We ask them things like, ‘What behaviors are valued and rewarded your organization?’ If we get different answers from men and women — for example, if women don’t feel that there’s a highly collaborative environment, but men do — then that indicates there’s some dynamic at play that’s separating the experience of men and women.

    “There might be additional pieces of data that can be pulled in, like unequal promotion practices, for example, or higher turnover rate for women. So when we layer our data onto additional data that’s accessible to HR teams, we can really paint a picture with concrete clues for what might be going on in this company. Then we can structure some targeted questions that would be worth exploring in a focus group setting.”

    Oliver: “Transparency is another marker of gender-related issues in the workplace. This happens when the flow of information may not be making its way to all folks and stakeholders in a similar fashion. There might be a small group that’s retaining all of the information and therefore isolating the rest of the organization.”

    What risk factors make a company more susceptible to gender inequality?

    Catherine: “Companies that start out with a commitment to diversity and inclusion very early on tend to put themselves in a better position down the line. It is a lot harder to change course with your culture and cultural practices once things have already been embedded. So for companies that are in that early-stage growth phase, it is immensely beneficial to focus on diversity and inclusion early on. Having visible female executives is a really powerful signal and really does make a difference in terms of influencing the company culture.”

    To listen to the full interview, check out Wharton Business Radio: In The Workplace with Oliver Staehelin and Catherine Spence