Author Tasha Cluskey
Culture fit is a really big thing when looking to hire more people and there are a lot of different opinions surrounding it. I will openly admit I am still quite confused as to what exactly a companies culture is. All I know for sure is your culture definitely should not be whether you have a ping pong table, slide or ball pit. A lot of start-ups just seem to be doing this as the norm and advertising it as part of their culture. This is simply a perk of the job and you don’t want to give off the impression that your values are fleeting and that you will go with whatever is “cool” at the time.
Even companies who have managed to avoid falling into this trap of letting their perks take over their values still seem to just use popular buzzwords and phrases that when you actually think about them they don’t really tell you an awful lot. Words like “driven” go without saying to a candidate and they don’t tell them a lot about what your work environment is like. Personally I think people care more about whether there is a hierarchy, Is your company professional and highly managed or is it more relaxed where all opinions are considered with the same merit? Do you encourage individuality and curiosity? Do you all share similar visions of where the company could be in the future? Whatever it may be everyone shouldn’t be the same person so what are the key attributes that tie you all together?
I think in the end company culture is actually pretty hard to define or summarise. It shouldn’t be the same for each company and I think it should be individually analysed. If you’re unsure what your company’s is the first thing I would do is start an open communication with your employees and ask them for their opinions. What would they tell their friends down the pub about the office they work in, how would they describe it in general? What would they change? Things like this can help you to see if there are a lot of common values already. Try to view things as an outsider and look around your office. Are people getting excited by what is happening, are they trying things they haven’t done before, being creative and experimental or are they doing the same thing day in day out. If the answers are not what you were expecting what could you change to achieve the atmosphere you want?
If I had to analyse the culture of my workplace I would say it is an office that appreciates creativity and encourages individuality. Although we have managers and it is clear who we can go to for help and support and who make the more executive decisions there is no real “hierarchy” as we all have very open and honest communication where opinions are valued. So with that information if I had to sum it all up in a few words I would choose; individual, exciting, non hierarchal and encouraging.
Once you know what is important to you as a company you can ask questions tailored around these attributes and get the candidate to give examples of times they have had to put these values into practice. How did it go, what would they do differently etc.
Personally I think it takes a while to define what your company’s culture is and it may take quite a bit of time and research – looking at where you are at and where you want to be. These are my current opinions and I am still working it all out myself but one thing I can say is I believe it is far more difficult to assess than just listing what perks you offer or giving a generic stereotypical start up culture description. It is something that should be very personal and honest.