Culture Fit. One term that kills innovation dead in its tracks. But wait, doesn't hiring for culture fit makes sense? A group of likeminded people for a like-minded cause. However, as I explored in a previous blog, in the hiring process, ‘culture fit’ facilitates bias and leads to a homogenous culture. Two things that KILL innovation.
To enable a shift from 'culture fit' to 'culture add', there has to be firstly an acknowledgement that unconscious bias exists, and therefore when your team is interviewing people they HAVE to remove ‘fit’ from their vocabulary. Focusing on core values, as opposed to subjective gut feelings pushes you to consider personal connections with candidates objectively, and enables us to shift our focus and hire people from different backgrounds, behaviours, and beliefs who share our values. Thus, hiring for ‘culture add’.
Like many tech companies, Facebook is constantly looking for new ways to retain, engage and diversify their workforce. To create a more open and inclusive recruitment process, Facebook actually BANNED the term ‘culture fit’ from post-interview discussions and feedback. Instead, they reviewed their interview process and proactively identified unconscious biases and began taking steps to remove them. Now, Facebook bases its hiring process around alignment with their core values. They also have developed a training program, which has now been rolled out to the public to teach senior leadership and hiring managers on how to manage unconscious bias.
“At Facebook, we’ve explicitly asked interviewers not to use the term ‘culture fit’ when giving feedback on a candidate because that phrase can easily allow bias to influence the outcome of an interview.”
By developing a diverse and inclusive workforce, and managing that workforce to get the BEST out of them, Facebook has managed to successfully leverage their employee's individual attributes to generate some pretty fantastic outcomes;
12x discretionary employee effort
57x greater collaboration
42x greater team commitment
70% more likely to capture new market share
45% improved market share*
Software and PM tool Atlassian have completely restructured their hiring strategy to shift the focus from hiring for ‘culture fit’ to hiring for ‘values fit’. Atlassian recognised that fostering a culture of innovation isn’t about “ping-pong tables and free beer”. Focussing on candidates that they know match their company values, has enabled them to build a workforce of unique, innovative individuals who are all driven by common values. One of their core values is ‘Openness’, which they adhere to authentically by publishing their diversity figures publically on their website.
Building a workforce based on the principle of 'culture add’ goes hand in hand with diversity and inclusiveness. Becoming an inclusive employer takes real buy-in and commitment from leadership all the way down to the front desk and whilst removing ‘culture fit’ from your hiring process won’t eliminate unconscious bias, it will surely make a difference.
“Creating an environment where everyone is supported on their growth journey regardless of where they're at, is critical to creating an equitable company.”
Learn how Atlassian scaled an open culture and what they’ve learned from it here;
CLEARLY DEFINED VALUES
Having clear, defined core values are integral for making the shift from ‘fit’ to ‘add’. The goal of setting core values, is to not only give your current workforce a purpose, but it’s also to enable consistency and fairness across ALL hiring processes, avoiding bias and encouraging hiring managers to onboard employees that meet the ‘add’ not ‘fit’ criteria. Your core values should be unique to your business but targeted enough that they resonate with diverse talent pools.
GET RID OF FIXED MINDSETS
Think about limiting the number of mandatory requirements for your job openings. If someone NEEDS a degree to do the work, that is fair enough but if they don’t NEED Java Script experience, and it is something they could learn working for you, then omit it. Think INclusive, not EXclusive.
TAKE GENDER OUR OF YOUR JOB ADS
For example, using so-called “gendered-language” like “Ninja” or “dominant” alienates candidates; Research suggests men apply to jobs when they meet 60% of the requirements, whereas women will only apply when they meet 100% of the requirements. 'De-gender-fying' the language encourages awesome candidates from a variety of backgrounds, beliefs and life experiences to apply, thus improving the scope of your talent pool and ultimately the diversity of your workforce.
BE MORE FLEXIBLE
Many company’s offers ‘flexible working’ but consider being more flexible to introduce a more varied talent pool. Many professionals are also parents, so giving employees the tools to live their lives outside of work, means you’ll not only attract but retain top-performing talent that adds to your business’ culture, not conforms to it.
Proactively seek out your employees from underrepresented groups and ask them to play an active role in your employee referral program. Ask them individually, or on a team basis but encourage them to have conversations with their friends, family members, university peers or colleagues at other company’s. Encourage your employees to be a part of changing the culture from ‘fit’ to add’ and they, in turn, will do what they can to help make that shift.
HIRE WILD CARDS
Have you ever come across a candidate that had a somewhat jagged resume but you didn’t hire them due to fear? Hiring the occasional wild card might be risky, but these candidates often offer fresh insight, new ideas and challenge the status quo. All things that embody the concept of hiring for culture ‘add’.
Making the shift from hiring for culture ‘fit to culture ‘add’ will take time, and you will face resistance. But one has to recognise that the world is constantly changing and you NEED your employees to understand that changing world in order to enable your clients and customers’ needs to be met. The approach that got to where you are today won’t get you to where you want to be. Successfully hiring people to ‘add’ to your culture and build a diverse workforce of people that challenge and come up with innovative ideas can only serve your business, not hinder it.
So start enabling your teams to hire leaders, not your leaders to hire teams.