Many have heard the term “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner”. It’s time for a culture shift! While some would agree that this is true, the methods to apply in achieving great culture are vast and varied. Those methods and theories were given the stage at the SHRM 2019 Annual Conference & Exposition in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada; which Karen Brandenburg, strategic HR inc.’s own Senior HR Consultant, had the privilege and pleasure to attend. There were 373 events at the SHRM Conference and 65 of the events featured or referenced culture. Below is a sample of the session titles and presenters:
- Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™: Creating a Culture of Kindness – Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, President, Barbara Glanz Communications, Inc.
- Work Inspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work – Christopher Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, Director, Strategic Advisory , Kronos Incorporated
- The Good, Bad, and Ugly: Creating a Culture of Feedback – Brad Karsh, Founder and CEO, JB Training Solutions
- Developing a High-Performance Culture That Enables Your Company to Grow and Thrive – Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, SVP & CHRO, Symantec
- It’s Not Magic: You Too Can Create a Culture of Futures Thinkers – Richard Ramsey, Vice president, HR – Walt Disney International and Frank Spencer, Founder, Kedge, LLC
Note: These sessions will be available later in the year through the SHRM E-Learning Library available at https://store.shrm.org/SHRM-eLearning-Library.
While it’s impossible to attend all 65 sessions related to culture, the message is loud and clear: the need to be intentional about culture is here to stay. For a number of years, the conversation around culture has been in terms of “culture fit”. In his article “The End of Culture Fit”, Lars Schmidt describes culture fit as having taken on “more of a tribal meaning. People who think like us. People who work like us. People who live like us. People who look like us.”1 The terminology has become so popular that interview methods, assessments, screening tools and entire programs have been built around the concept. We must STOP the practice of focusing on FIT!
By focusing on FIT, we are building teams of identical individuals, all with the same work habits, lives, and outer appearances. We run the risk of missing out on true inclusion and diversity; where individuals from varied backgrounds have the opportunity to contribute their unique experiences, perspectives, talents and insights. According to Fast Company2, hiring for culture fit reinforces a lack of diversity, causes organizations to miss out on great talent and increases the risk of passing unintended bias into products.
With the goal in mind of creating truly better workplaces, the conversation is beginning to shift from “Culture Fit” to “Culture Add and Values Fit”.
In order to find the blend of “culture add” and “values fit”, we must begin to focus on how individuals can contribute to the existing culture and bring their unique experiences, both from life and work, to the workplace. Melissa James provides a great definition of “culture add” in her article “Culture Fit vs. Culture Add: Why One Term Actually Hurts Diversity”. James describes culture add as the likelihood that someone will not only reflect the company’s values and professional ethics, but also bring an aspect of diverse opinions, experiences, and specialized skill which enhances not just the team, but the overall company culture.3 The idea is that your team members can bring their whole authentic self and still be respected for who they are, where they come from and what brought them to this place in their career and life journey.
With any process of shift, growth, or adaptation, it is critical to not forget that generally there are components that should be kept and applied differently. In the case of this discussion, the critical component to keep is the focus on values. The key to success is ensuring that the stated values match the actual values of the organization. By taking the process of values one step further and assigning attributions to each Core Value, you can both test if the values reflect your actual culture and demonstrate to others how the values are lived out in your environment every day. An example would be an established value of “Leading with Humility” in your organization, further illustrated by having the following attributes:
- Team Player.
- Respect everyone | No job is beneath me
- Listen! | Listen more
- Always be willing to learn from everyone
- Ask subordinates how they would improve
HR Leaders have been presented with the special opportunity to ensure their organization’s culture is respected by those that interact with the organization, extending beyond team members to customers, vendors, the community, and more. HR professionals are developing unique hiring, onboarding, engagement and development practices that amplify the culture of the organization, rather than keeping it in the same rigid form. Now, it’s up to them to continue to champion the culture and make the shift!
Thank you to Karen Brandenburg with strategic HR inc. for sharing her insights and findings on Culture. If you have any questions or would like to share your comments, contact us at info@strategicHRinc.com.
1 Schmidt, L. (2017, Mar 21) The End of Culture Fit. Forbes Retrieved from Forbes.com
2 Alexander, D. (2019, June 4) 3 reasons you should stop hiring for “culture fit”. Fast Company Retrieved from fastcompany.com
3 James, M. (2018, May 9) Culture Fit vs. Culture Add: Why One Term Actually Hurts Diversity. OV Retrieved from openviewpartners.com
Are you struggling to evaluate and set your culture in motion? strategic HR inc. can help! We can assist with a cultural audit to assess where your organization is today. And we can work with you to implement the changes you need to make in your culture to set you apart and help you attract and retain top talent. Curious to learn more? Contact us now to talk further.