Tag Archive: Organizational Values

  1. 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.

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


  2. 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.

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

  3. 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.

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    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


  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Company Culture: 3 Frequently Asked Questions

    Employers everywhere are paying close attention to company culture. But the term ‘company culture’ can mean so many things. Are company values synonymous with culture? Do perks, like ping pong tables or team lunches, create stronger cultures? And can a company culture get too homogeneous, to the point where it stops evolving?

    To answer these questions, let’s get back to the basics with a quick Culture Q&A. Here are three of the most common company culture questions:

    What is culture, exactly?

    Company culture is a system of shared values defining what is important, and norms, defining appropriate attitudes and behaviors for employees within an organization. In other words, your values, whether expressly stated or interpreted based on rewards and recognition, are the roots that your culture grows from, spurring the development of norms, behaviors, and other cultural activities.

    If values tend to be conceptual in nature, then norms and behaviors become the building blocks that characterize your culture and give your values meaning. Take innovation as a value, for example. What does innovation mean in terms of behavior? At Outmatch, we’d say that innovative cultures are characterized by employees who are willing to experiment, who are comfortable with risk, and who are quick to take initiative—these are the behaviors that underpin the value of innovation.

    How can we manage corporate culture?

    While culture as a concept may seem a bit intangible, it is something that can be managed (even on a large scale). Traditionally, companies have managed culture thorough 1:1 interactions, consistent communication, and alignment of incentive systems. More recently, new survey and analytics tools have emerged to help capture and measure company culture, which is a key challenge, especially for companies with large, decentralized workforces. The more insight a company can get about its culture, the more proactive leadership can be in aligning talent management strategies to meet and reflect that culture.

    What’s the difference between employee engagement and culture?

    The terms culture and engagement are often used interchangeably. They both involve an employee’s relationship with their workplace, but there is an important distinction:

    Employee engagement is how employees FEEL, whereas culture is what employees BELIEVE and how they ACT.

    Engagement is more volatile and can fluctuate from day to day. Culture, on the other hand, is deeply rooted and slow to change. Looking at the relationship between culture and engagement, you’ll see that cultural strength predicts employee engagement. A blow to engagement on a team with a strong culture will rebound over time. Which makes sense: If employees are highly aligned around the beliefs, values, behaviors, and incentives that drive how they act in the workplace, then strong alignment will lead to less social friction and higher productivity, which in turn leads to higher employee engagement on average. Low engagement accompanied by a trend toward lower cultural strength, however, means there’s a breakdown in beliefs and behaviors happening on that team.

    To learn more about why culture matters, and how to successfully onboard new hires into your company culture, check out our webinar: How to Reinforce Your Culture with a Strong Onboarding Process.

    Company Culture Questions