Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't Be A Culture Vulture

I worry about finding talent for my organization.  We need people with highly specialized clinical skills to care for some of the most fragile patients imaginable. Maybe we need a talent manifesto to make sure we go about it the right way.  What I do know is that sometimes I get too caught up in worrying about "culture."

Good Word - Misguided Focus
Time for some self-disclosure...I get a bit fired up about culture.  I worry about cultural fit, cultural diversity, corporate culture, and sometimes do my best to spread the culture agenda across my organization.  Just what exactly is cultural fit anyway?  Are new hires supposed to fit in perfectly with the rest of us?  Are they supposed to conform to some subjective perspective on what corporate culture is all about?  Why would I ever want a bunch of conformists versus the opportunity to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and enthusiasm into my already high-performing organization?  

Hovering Above
I'm afraid that I'm not alone in my sometimes obsession with force-fitting cultural fit. It's as if I've morphed into a culture vulture and I'm circling above waiting to swoop down and feed upon unsuspecting candidates who fit into the "culture." That doesn't seem right, does it?  It seems to me organizations  should do everything possible to enrich the make-up of the team; to add new perspectives; to focus on progress, not cling to the old excuse of "it's the way we've always done it here."

How About You
Are you caught up in the culture agenda game?  If so, it's time to take a break.  Stop circling, and start appreciating the value that all of those non-conformists can bring to your company.  I know I'm going to start doing it too.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of guardian


  1. Maybe the problem here is with the word "fit," not with the word "culture." Your culture (like your organization, and your people) is a living, evolving thing. To have someone "fit" into a culture sounds more like a puzzle piece, and I don't think that's how it works. Every piece you bring in changes the whole puzzle a little (I think I'd have to go all Escher on you to keep that metaphor up...). Be clear on your culture, and bring people in that will make it (and your org) more healthy. Sometimes, that's some people who are more "like" your image of your culture personified, and sometimes it will be people who are unlike it, because you need that diversity to keep the culture honest, so to speak.

  2. Jamie - great feedback! I think many times we fall into the trap of trying to fit a puzzle together, when in fact organizations are not puzzles at all. Great perspective.

  3. I always feel it is not about whether YOU think they "fit" your culture. But, whether THEY think they fit in or have a role to fill. Or if their fresh perspective is respected and accepted as a contribution.