Culture is a fluid and changing element that touches every aspect of your business.
Walk into any company and you'll see and feel the company's culture brimming all around you. From the way you're greeted, the people you meet with, and the way you are escorted during your visit, everything is the culture. That is because culture permeates and touches every aspect of the business, and in doing so, becomes what employees, visitors, vendors, suppliers, 3rd party service providers, customers and even competitors experience.
A company's culture starts early and grows organically. It is fluid, continuously changing and strategically valuable. Behaviors, attitudes and mindsets over time become habits and those habits shape the culture. Good habits are favorable and bad habits are destructive. If you permit bad habits to take root, they are difficult to reverse later on. Culture withstands adaptability, scalability, and unexpected market changes, but only if the culture is at the forefront of priorities top to bottom and across the organization.
Do you have the right people?
Company executives are often concerned about whether they have the right people onboard. A recent CEO survey reports that a large percent of chief executives view talent and skills as the most important predictor of business success. But, hiring for talent and skills alone, without a focus on culture fit, is a recipe for subpar team performance that leads to turnover.
As Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great points out "You have to have the right people on the bus." Once the wrong people are in, they can take down team performance and over time weaken the organization.
Yet, the wrong people are on the bus as the direct result of expedient and reactive hiring. Managers, trying to fill open positions, are largely left to figure out what the jobs require. Interviews focus on technical ability, but are not assessing “fit with culture,” an important criterion in hiring for performance.
Well-known recruiter Jörgen Sundberg puts the cost of onboarding an employee at $240,000. And, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee's first-year earnings. For a small company, a five-figure investment in the wrong person is a threat to the business (Forbes).
Netflix is a team management company. They don't sugarcoat the importance of team performance as a condition for continued employment. It is this precision and management style that allows Netflix to pivot with market changes and remain resilient. Throughout, the company has always placed strong emphasis on hiring people who fit well within the team.
It's easy hire the candidate that seems most highly qualified. But hiring a superstar can be a mistake if they will be detrimental to the team's cohesive dynamics.
In fact, if a superstar is not a good fit for the team you should move on to the next candidate, until you find the right fit.
Growth companies specially should be attentive to fit as they scale.
There is no "I" in Team
The idea that "internal competition is healthy for a company" is a myth (Forbes).
Internal competition breeds negative competitiveness, and this can be damaging.
Individuals with a "me" vs. "we" mindset take "your failure makes me look good" actions that are destructive to the team. These people are dangerous because once they get in they can rip the company from the inside and slump performance.
Build a culture of "we" thinkers
Demand independent thinking and risk taking because this is key to company performance. However, make sure the team reaches consensus in decision making and every team member has a chance to contribute.
Leaders have to be intentional and unafraid about diversity of ideas and failure of trying new concepts. Teams with such leadership are 17% more likely to achieve high performance, 20% more likely to make quality decisions, and 29% more likely to work collaboratively (Julie Bourke, author).
Take a page from the pros. In sports, signing athletes who operate with a "we" mindset benefits team performance and ultimately the club. The same is true in business. A "we" team member that values team performance over individual accolades, helps the company succeed. Practice hiring for "we" as you add or replace team members and watch productivity soar.
Hiring independent thinkers that actively question and explore other options, prevents team stagnation and improves the quality of team decisions.
The best employees are not "yes" people. Create a safe space for people to question the process and voice their views. You want people who can rip up the plan and pivot while still delivering quality work (Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn).