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Culture Contribution Instead Of Culture Fit

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Chief Vision Officer and Founder of Keystone Group International.

Many businesses have strong cultural values that they use in their hiring process, which is great. My company has coached our clients for years to hire to the values and not skillsets and experience. But as your business climate evolves, you also have to consider the way you look at your culture, the decisions you make about who comes into your culture and the impact that each hire can have on that culture.

In other words, you have to start thinking about what each person can contribute to your company versus just whether they fit in. Because culture evolves as the organization evolves, in order to ensure yours stays healthy and positive, you have to ensure each person knows what they contribute and how they do it.

At my organization, we like to define a positive culture as a place where people leave every day better than when they came in. As a leader, you have to help your employees understand that they have the choice and impact the culture in every interaction at your organization. Culture is ultimately built from employees’ daily choices. Here are some steps that you can take to move toward a culture of contribution.

1. Adjust your hiring processes. Instead of only testing for fit and restricting yourself by only asking if a candidate holds your same values, make sure to also ask them how they think they can contribute and make the culture better. When you empower people to own their role, they make better choices because they understand their impact.

2. Articulate your cultural vision. Just like we have a strategy for the growth of the business, we also need to have a vision for what we want our culture to feel like and how it should grow. We need to articulate that vision to the organization alongside our business strategy to ensure that people understand that growth does not have to mean we sacrifice our culture. Employees want to know that you care as much about them and their experience at the organization as you do about growth and profits. 

3. Define the contributions of each person. Whether an employee has just started at your organization or been there for many years, you need each of them to define what they believe their greatest contribution to your culture can be. Each of us has our own unique strengths that we bring to the organization each day. Have each employee answer the question: What contribution can I have that makes our culture stronger and better?

A Shared Vision Of Culture

When we articulate the vision of our culture and ask people how they contribute to it, the result is true ownership of their cultural contribution. Culture is the choice each of us makes in every interaction we have with a colleague, a customer or a boss. To create a strong and sustainable culture, we need each person in our organization to understand how they personally contribute to the culture through their daily decisions and actions.

Create a culture built on contribution, not fit, and I believe you will see a culture that grows and strengthens beyond what you can even imagine.


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