Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:00

Get Along Or Get Appreciated? A Tool For Candid Cultural Fit Conversations

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Do you remember the best conference you ever attended?

My most memorable conference was a Sonoma boondoggle, er, rather, leadership retreat hosted by Monitor’s Global Business Network. (May Monitor rest in peace.)

 

At the conference, the organizers watched small groups of us interact. They then classified our communications and behaviors into the following framework:

 

This framework really stuck with me. The idea is this: We each show affinity at times with getting things right, getting things done, getting along, and getting appreciated. But most of us tend to self-identify with one or two of these areas above the others.

Shoehorning people into predefined labels notwithstanding, this framework can help you to assess the challenging question of “Is this prospective employee a good cultural fit here?”

That’s because just as individuals can be classified in this framework, company cultures can fit into it too.

Recently I wrote about how to hire for cultural fit based on the get it right/get it done spectrum.

Let’s turn our attention to the get along/get appreciated spectrum, and how you can:

1.       Identify what type of culture your organization offers
2.       Assess the type of person you’re interviewing
3.       Evaluate the match

1.       First, consider to what extent your organization values getting along and getting appreciated:

-          Awards: Are there awards at all? What is the most prestigious award the company gives? Does it recognize teamwork or individual achievement?
-          Rewards: How are people rewarded, implicitly? What type of person gets ahead, and for what kind of behavior? To what extent does the organization value consensus, versus accountability for results?
-          Camaraderie:  At one company where I worked, I never saw anyone eating alone at their desks. Not once! Employees always ate lunch in groups. This was a very ‘get along’ environment. In your organization, do people largely eat lunch together or are they more prone to go their separate ways during free time?

2.       Next, get to know a prospective new hire on the dimensions of ‘get along’ and ‘get appreciated.’

-          Early influences: Ask about what activities captured their interest when they were kids. What were their favorite extra-curriculars? What peak accomplishments stick out in their heads and what does this say about them? When I was growing up, for instance, I played well with others. But a truly peak experience was winning a town-wide big stage spelling bee at age seven – a classic ‘get appreciated’ moment. (The next year I lost it by misspelling the word ‘career’, funnily enough, but that’s another story.)
-          Ideal culture: Ask about the context and culture surrounding their greatest accomplishment. Listen. Does the person talk about how thrilling it was to work in a team setting, or more about their own path? What about the culture motivated them? How does the culture they describe compare to yours?
-          Ideal goals: Ask, “How would you like to be goaled and rewarded?” and “What values do you care about?” See how similar their ideal is to what you offer.

3.       Match carefully.

Too often, people say they want to work someplace with nice, smart people, but how helpful or useful is that?  Wouldn't we all, really?

That’s what makes the ‘get along/get appreciated/get it done/get it right’ framework so strong: It supports a non-judgmental and honest dialogue about cultural fit.

-          Share the framework: Discuss this framework outright with a prospective new hire. Be candid about what your organization values and what the candidate values.
-          Acknowledge the grain of salt here: An organization can certainly have people who span these four areas, especially as it grows.  There can be pockets of the company with individuals who differ from the status quo and are still successful. So it’s important to consider the subcultures of an organization and not just the overall culture. For instance, sales teams may be havens that like to ‘get appreciated’ while the organization as a whole is more ‘get along.’

 

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