I feel blue - Unveiling Culture Fit; An Immortal Myth of Recruitment

We're stronger when we look beyond our differences. But, we can't run away from our differences.
We're stronger when we look beyond our differences. But, we can't run away from our differences.

We often find ourselves widening the gyre of recruitment practices in pursuit of filling teams with the right fit – hitting all the right notes of skill set, personality, and value.

The quest to find the right fit to help us grow might as well get us on the path to make-believe land. Apologies for stumping on your bubble there, but as you run towards your familiar rock, you inadvertently overlook the diamond hidden in your path.

Culturally-fit hiring strategies have set their roots deep in IT recruitment. It has become a norm to hire individuals matching closely to set organizational values and the JD. It's an unconscious inclination towards structuring the process in ways it benefits the organization currently. For a current project. To fill current needs. Seems like a big win at the moment - and it is! You just achieved culture-fit! But how much value does it add value in the long run?

Recruiters go to great lengths to find the right candidate and end up with a conformed team of like-minded – culturally fit individuals. Sounds great, no? But does all the glitter make it gold? Yes – would be the easiest deduction.

As a recruiter and having been on the sinking boat to hire the right fit, I have hired some exemplary candidates who fit the role and resonated with current culture but alas! I had to face turnover as early as after 2 days of joining (amongst others who stuck around for half a year… or a week). A reflection was in order. A restructuring of the seemingly right process became inevitable.

So, who do we really blame here, the recruiter, candidate, or culture? Perhaps leave it to the Gods of fate.

Unfortunately, besides being a short-term approach, finding the right people to hire is time consuming and has several downsides! Sometimes, we focus too much on technical skills that the idea of how a person can make the team better is sidelined. There’s a psychological tug-of-war in industry to achieve the right fit when all we strive for is to be different – perhaps a right add might change the narrative?

Make way for the star of this article culture add here. We are talking about adding a pop of fuchsia to a canvas of whites. While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, it undeniably commands attention. Similarly, embracing a new perspective, veering away from the conventional, and introducing a challenging feat to the team can kickstart innovation, liberate you from a similarity rut, and broaden your visionary horizons.

As Mahatma Gandhi said and I quote,  “No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.”.

Culture add advocates for diversifying teams with individuals who bring forth a fresh perspective to help the team grow rather than just expand the team who dress, talk, behave, and perform the same.

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company highlights the tangible financial benefits associated with top-team diversity. Additionally, research published by The Association for Psychological Science underscores that empirical evidence strongly supports the notion that diversity, encompassing differences in ethnicity, culture, gender, and more, yields substantial advantages for organizations.

In a world where everyone races towards a novel future, sometimes the answers lie in the past. Learning from the historical concept of Seidenstrassen or Silk Roads; a metaphor of European and Asian cultural interchange, we luminate the pathways not paved with silk and spices, but differences in ideas, perspectives, skills, and traits.

The concept of culture add or the right add, as I have advocated throughout, challenges the traditional notion of recruiting individuals who seamlessly fit into an organization's existing culture. This approach actively encourages the inclusion of culturally diverse individuals within the organization.

Ideally, the culture add approach encompasses both cognitive and visible diversity. For instance, from a cognitive standpoint, it might involve hiring an impulsive decision maker into a predominantly calculated team – and vice versa. On a visible level, it could mean adding a female member to a male-dominated group. Building on this, while hiring for IT teams, one can keep an eye out for emerging talent, potential, and disqualify bias based on current skill sets. With the industry growing in all possible directions, hiring for the future is key to thriving in cut-throat competition. Let's ask ourselves, how can this different tech-stack change the dynamics?  How might diversifying the skill sets within a team influence the development of creative solutions and products? Will adding this individual with an itch for unconventional into a team of conventional coders stir up innovation?

However, this approach doesn’t require an extreme shift from your existing culture. But should definitely inspire a process away from fitting candidates into carefully curated boxes to seamlessly fit-in; and towards an addition to make you think differently, expand your point of view, and invigorate growth in different directions.

From hiring with a tunnel vision of stale homogeneity, to striving for dynamic diversity. And that’s where hiring for growth instead of mere expansion begins.

Let’s expand more on the topic in the articles in sequel to this one. Share your thoughts, and stay tuned to dive in more detail with us!

Author: Fatima Majid