Tag Archive: Organizational Culture

  1. How to Support Your New Remote Workforce

    In a recent webinar on How to Manage Disruption, several HR leaders told us they had no work from home policy in place before Coronavirus.

    At Outmatch, we’re now fully remote, but before the global heath crisis, we had about 50% of employees working from home on a regular basis. For those of you who are new to working remote and managing a remote workforce, we’re happy to share some things that have worked for us.


    Turn them on! This can be uncomfortable at first, but as more people do it, it becomes the new normal. Our IT team, which is widely dispersed, has been doing this for years, and we rolled it out company-wide about a year ago. It’s a small change that makes a BIG difference in keeping people connected. We communicate better when we can see reactions and body language, and we don’t talk over each other like we do on ‘blind’ calls. Get your leaders in the habit of turning on cameras, and with some gentle nudges, you can have everyone doing it in no time.

    No multitasking

    This one’s pretty straightforward: if you attend a meeting, be present. It’s hard not to multitask, especially when you don’t have anyone’s physical presence to keep you accountable (friendly reminders help here; so do cameras). We have a no-pressure policy where employees are free to decline meetings that aren’t essential for them to be in. If you find yourself in a meeting and your attention is being pulled away, simply let people know you’re going to drop off.

    Flexible schedules

    We moved away from set schedules a few years ago, which made sense for us culturally. We have people across all US time zones and a few in other countries, so time is relative. In our current situation, flexibility is key. Kids are home. Routines are off. Everyone is feeling stir crazy. Flexibility gives people the freedom to unplug a few times a day and work during odd hours, if needed. We encourage Outmatchers to find a schedule (or in this case, a new normal) that works for them and their team – and not to stress when they need to care for their families or themselves.

    Virtual happy hour

    So we don’t become totally socially deprived, we added a non-work meeting to the mix. We started “Find Out Friday” as a way to connect on things that aren’t work-related. Our first edition was “meet your pets.” Other ideas are “what’s your workout?” and “guess who’s childhood photo this is.” Get creative and try to have fun with it. Virtual meetings with no agenda can feel strange at first, but since we can’t chat around the water cooler like usual, it’s a great stand-in.

    Weekly company updates

    This is another change we made about a year ago. Instead of gathering everyone in our biggest common area (which isn’t an option now anyhow) for a formal quarterly update, we started “Keg of Greg,” which you can probably guess is less formal. Each week, Greg, our CEO, gets on camera for a quick company check-in. People are free to ask questions, voice concerns, and even suggest special topics. By making this a recurring meeting, people are able to stay connected and get regular face time with the CEO.


    We’re all out of our comfort zone right now, so making sure to recognize people who are working hard and helping others is a great way to boost morale. This was part of our CulturalDNA already, but it’s important to keep alive in times like these. We call this “Expedition Recognition” because we like the explorer archetype and use this theme to guide our values, which are: Build Bridges, Pack Light Travel Fast, and Sherpa Attitude. When Outmatchers do something that represents one of these values, they’re recognized for it (we use a Teams channel), and then they’re sent a charm as a token of appreciation.

    Culture Club

    This cross-functional team is dedicated to caring for our culture. Having a big remote population already, Culture Club members talked often about, “How do we keep remote workers connected and engaged? How do we create a sense of community across distance?” Now being 100% remote, these conversations are even more critical. With a team already assembled, we’re able to bring together creative minds from across the company, advocate for each other, and keep our culture strong, even in a time of crisis.

    Final thoughts…

    We know in the HR community, your #1 priority is caring for your employees. But don’t forget to care for yourself. What we’re dealing with right now is heavy. It’s emotionally exhausting, and you’re probably missing meals and sleep to try and meet the needs of others. Deborah Schwarz, HR Vice President at Cousins Properties said this about self-care:

    “Don’t dismiss the weight we’re carrying. We’re taking care of people who are taking care of their families, and that is a lot. If you’re feeling heavy or down, you have a good reason. But address it and find a way to take care of yourself so that you’re able to take care of everyone else.”

    For more advice from HR leaders, watch How to Manage Disruption (And Not Lose Your Mind).

  2. How to Interview for Culture Fit

    3 easy steps to culture fit interviews that are insightful, scalable, and lead to great hires.

    Alignment (or misalignment) of personal and organizational values directly effects employee engagement, which in turn effects performance and retention. Strong alignment strengthens overall company culture, but if you bring in people who aren’t aligned, you’ll quickly find yourself at the tipping point of an organization-wide problem. That why assessing culture fit during the hiring and interviewing process is so important.

    Here are 3 steps to interviewing for culture fit:

    1. Frame questions the right way.

    First, you want to make sure that interviewers are asking questions in the right way so they get the most insightful responses from candidates. Use behavioral interview questions that ask about specific experiences, rather than hypothetical questions, which put candidates in an imagined future scenario where anything is possible. Here’s an example:

    Hypothetical Q: “Tell me how you would handle an angry customer.”

    Behavioral Q: “Tell me about a time when you had to address an angry customer. What was the problem? What did you do to resolve it? What as the outcome? How would you assess your role in diffusing the situation?”

    2. Ask the right questions.

    Second, you want to make sure that interview questions align with your company’s core values, as well as the values of the team. If customer orientation is a core value across the company, then a question like the example above is something you should ask in every interview. Or maybe customer orientation is important in sales and customer service, but not so much in IT, where results orientation is more important. Be flexible and adjust interview questions accordingly.

    If you don’t know what your company and team values are – or you know what you want them to be, but you’re not sure if those values are actually represented – a culture assessment is a great place to start. This will tell you how your employees are experiencing culture, and how well their values align with what’s written on the wall. Then, you can decide whether you want to shift or strengthen your existing CultureDNA™, using cultural interview questions to support your strategy.

    3. Provide interview guides.

    Finally, if interviewing for culture fit is important in your company, it should be done consistently. That means you need a structured and scalable interview process. This will help inexperienced and/or busy hiring managers stay on topic, know what questions to ask, and get the most out of limited interview time.

    Start with an interview guide using pre-vetted or custom interview questions. You can also build pre-recorded video interviews using video interview technology. No matter what type of interview guide you choose, you’ll benefit from increased team collaboration and greater consistency across interviews.

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

    Learn about the differences between culture fit vs. culture add, and get more interviewing best practices in the Diversity and Unconscious Bias Interview Guide.


  3. 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.

  4. Talent Acquisition: Tips for Tapping the Gig Workforce

    The gig economy currently employs more than 50 million Americans – 34% of the U.S. workforce.

    With an entire marketplace for gig work now easily accessible in apps and online, we’ve seen a boom in the gig economy. The gig workforce is adding $715 billion annually to the economy through freelance work, and researchers project that half of the working U.S. population will move into gig work within the next five years, according to an Elance report.

    What does this mean for traditional employers? How will talent acquisition compete now that job seekers have countless options for work?

    These questions came up in a recent webinar on the gig economy. Talent experts Courtney Gear and Cheryl Oxley shared insight on how talent acquisition teams can lean into, rather than resist the transformation taking place in today’s workforce. They also answered questions on how gig workers are impacting traditional businesses, and how traditional businesses are adapting the growing gig workforce.

    How do gig workers impact a company’s culture?

    Typically, gig workers are temporary and might work sporadically, or will work until a project is done and then move on. They usually aren’t performance appraised, and don’t receive training like a full-time employee would. But, if they’re interacting with your company on a regular basis, even for a short term, they’re going to have an impact on your culture.

    The degree to which gig workers impact your culture will depend on their level of involvement, as well as how many gig workers you hire and how often you hire them.

    If you use gig workers on a project-by-project basis, they will likely pick up on your existing culture, and it’s possible they will add their own outside flavor. Using a culture analytics tool, you can track culture changes over time and measure the impact that gig workers are having on your culture.

    Culture is also important in companies that operate on a gig model. Gig workers may not have as many opportunities for team building and collaboration, but the social systems that guide behavior are still at play. A gig culture will likely reflect values such as Adaptability, and employees will tend to have higher levels of self-reliance and follow through.

    How can you change the mindset of talent acquisition teams who view gig workers as job hoppers?

    Talent acquisition or recruiters might make the assumption that gig workers are job hoppers, unreliable or unable to hold a job for long. Other common myths are that gig workers are lazy, uninterested in career growth, or only gigging because they can’t get a ‘real’ job.

    But in fact, more than half of workers in the gig economy began freelancing by choice, not necessity. That’s because gig work offers flexibility, autonomy, and variety, which is appealing to people who dislike the more rigid corporate environment.

    Talent acquisition teams can benefit from leveraging gig workers as an additional talent pool. In today’s economy, it’s hard to find good talent, so rather than disqualifying gig workers, talent acquisition can use this talent pool to fill positions faster.

    It’s a mindset shift that has to happen if companies want to stay competitive, and it starts by thinking differently about what makes someone a good fit for the job. Keep in mind, too, that gig workers gain experience going from one gig to the next, and they get exposure to many different types of companies. This makes them a more well rounded employee who can bring a lot of value to your organization.

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

    To learn more about how to win talent in the gig workforce, watch our on-demand webinar: How to Stay Competitive in the Gig Economy.

    The Gig Economy

  5. Culture Management Strategy: 6 Signs Your Company Needs One

    Your company may need a culture management strategy.

    A culture management strategy will benefit your business even when things are relatively stable. But, you will definitely need a strategy to keep your culture strong through growth, mergers, leadership changes, and other tough transitions. Here are 6 common culture shocks that can derail your business, and tips for managing through them:

    1. A merger, acquisition, or restructure

    Nothing causes culture shock quite like this. For employees going through a merger, acquisition, or organizational restructure, it can feel as if the rug’s been pulled out from under them. So many things change, and changes happen fast. To emerge with a stronger culture, rather than a discordant culture, you need a culture integration strategy. This involves highlighting and understanding all the cultural dynamics at play. A culture measurement tool can help you see the cultural impact of the changes you’ve made, and identify key differences between your different operating groups. Over time, you’ll be able to measure the progress of culture integration and take steps to support a strong company culture, as well as strong subcultures.

    2. Change in leadership or organizational strategy

    Leadership sets the tone for organizational culture. When there are changes at the executive level, culture shifts often follow. To proactively manage these shifts, business leaders needs a way to assess their current culture, and track progress toward their new cultural vision. A culture measurement tool can compare the executive team’s aspirational culture to the current culture (as experienced by employees) to identify areas where the greatest shifts need to occur. Measuring the culture fit of candidates is also essential—you’ll be able to see how new hires will help move you toward your desired culture, rather than keep you in the past.

    3. Hyper growth

    Culture is dynamic, and by constantly adding new employees, organizations can severely dilute their culture. If you had a strong culture before a period of hyper growth, you may find that culture significantly changed, and significantly less effective than it was before. Culture dilution has also proven to negatively effect employee engagement, performance, and retention. So how do you scale your business without deteriorating your culture?  You must have a dedicated effort on reinforcing the values and underlying behaviors that drive success in your company. With a culture measurement tool, you can monitor for culture dilution, see where it’s happening, and identify values that are decreasing in relative importance. It’s also important to measure candidate fit to ensure you’re hiring people who share the values of your desire culture.

    4. Diversity & Inclusion initiatives

    There are many dynamics at play within a culture that can inadvertently undermine your diversity and inclusion efforts. The first step is understanding organizational attitudes toward diversity and inclusion. You can do this by measuring cultural behaviors such as tolerance and collaboration. With a culture measurement tool, you’ll be able to see the relative importance of tolerance as compared to other priorities or values that employees perceive as important in your organization. You can also measure perceptions within diverse populations to see if these groups experience culture differently than others in your organization. Only then can you work to harmonize culture across diverse groups and confirm that your diversity and inclusion initiatives are effective.

    5. Issues with engagement, performance, or turnover

    Culture strength is a direct predictor of employee engagement, which in turn predicts performance and retention. Weakly aligned cultures consistently experience more issues with engagement, performance, and turnover. Whether these issues are pervasive across your company or higher within certain segments of the business, a culture measurement tool can reveal areas of cultural disconnect and help you diagnose the underlying cause. Without visibility, you will struggle to enact positive change. How you hire also impacts on your ability to ‘plug the leak,’ as alignment between personal values and organizational values has proven to enhance engagement, performance, and retention. By measuring candidate fit, you can ensure alignment from the get-go.

    6. Defining or refreshing organizational values

    Because culture is rooted in organizational values, step one of any culture initiative is understanding what those values are. Values set the expectation for how work gets done within your organization, and values drive the behaviors behind all of your business operations. Rather than choosing words simply because they sound important, like INNOVATION or INTEGRITY, use a culture measurement tool to survey employees and see the values that exist in your organization today. Then, use that insight to align your work practices with your existing values, or build a strategy to shift your values. Either way, a bottom-up approach to defining values will foster an environment where employees are more connected to the culture and feel a sense of ownership.

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

    To learn more about culture management strategy and best practices, download our infographic: 4 Pillars of an Outstanding Company Culture

  6. 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


  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Business Strategy and Organizational Culture: Tips on Aligning Them

    How to make organizational culture a business conversation, not an HR conversation

    Episode 6 of the Talent Playbook Podcast features Tony Bridwell, author, speaker, and the Chief People Officer at Ryan, LLC. With more than 2,300 employees, Ryan is the world’s largest tax consulting company, and #71 on this year’s Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.

    What’s the secret to becoming a Best Company to Work For? Bridwell says it’s about putting your people first. At Ryan, people are first on the company’s ‘big four results,’ followed by clients, revenue, and IBITA. Here’s why, according to Bridwell:

    You take care of your people. Your people take care of your clients. Your clients provide revenue, and if you run the business well, then you get an IBITA.”

    Bridwell says that these big four results drive every decision he makes. “If I’m not hiring the right people and I lose them in 6 months or a year, that costs the firm money, which hits bottom line. From a revenue standpoint, I lose connectivity with clients, it hurts productivity, and the people experience is bad. A bad hire hits every one of my key results. Same goes for development and total rewards. If I lose people because they’re not being developed, or because the compensation isn’t right, it hits every one of my key results.”

    Bridwell continues by saying that the conversation about talent and people at Ryan is a business conversation, not an HR conversation. When it comes to driving business results, the formula at Ryan is ‘Structure follows strategy—and culture supports it all.’ Here’s how Bridwell puts it:

    “If you don’t realign the structure of the organization to deliver the business strategy, you’ll end up ‘muscling a result.’ This happens so frequently. There are organizational structures that haven’t changed in years, but each year there are new strategies. People understand the strategy part because that’s what they’re taught in school. But rarely will they modify the organizational structure to deliver that strategy, and almost never will they check and adjust the company culture. When I meet with the COO and CEO at Ryan, we’re constantly talking about the cultural barriers  that will prevent us from delivering our business strategy.

    The single largest strategic initiative in our firm this year is our cultural reset. We are completely resetting our company culture to deliver the biggest growth we’ve ever seen in our firm’s history.”

    Read more about Tony Bridwell’s work at tonybridwell.com, or listen to the full interview on the Talent Playbook Podcast.