I recently went to a hiring seminar sponsored by a Fortune 500 company. The presenters were great, they were very knowledgeable and knew exactly how to answer every question. The food was catered and well presented. The list of activities kept all the visiting participants engaged, the entire event was really was well thought out and perfectly executed. I thought, dang that's how it's done! We all had a great time, and it was a long drive back to the office. All I could think of was, they are big, they sell a lot of products, and they have been very successful. Even thinking if I was in that industry it would be a dream to work for them. But could my views and personality fit their office/work culture? Maybe, but more importantly, it led me to think about this in a deeper context; because the lecturer emphasized that in order to work there, one must fit the culture as well as possess the basic skill set of the position.
It somewhat caught me off-guard, because traditionally speaking, doesn't every company want the best and brightest? Shouldn't demeanor, attitude, personality, and/or culture be secondary? Shouldn't great talent be managed and retained at all cost? So what if the genius is a bit difficult to deal with, don't companies want to employ the best candidate a competitive market has to offer? And if they're a little weird or not that personable at the water cooler, isn't that just a part of life? At school, they try to teach our kids about tolerance, understanding, and acceptance no matter how different someone is. Whether they fully accept this or not is another issue, but they are at least presented with this situation regularly, should it be any different within a company?
It seems ideal, but if it was your company, your shareholders, your risk, wouldn't you want your employees to be like-minded? Wouldn't you want your board room to work harmoniously and in cooperation with each other? Cooperation and agreement are generally good for business, it creates a lot of win-win situations. Should it be a dilemma for most companies to hire people who will fit-in, or hire people who will challenge? Or maybe just hire from the best of both categories?
And what if your company is trying to navigate and succeed in this international marketplace? As our world continues to become more globalized, we have seen many corporations expand into other markets and fail. And these companies are some of the most powerful in the world, they have the resources to hire some of the best minds and are able to invest in countless years of market research before investing overseas. Can't one help but think: a group of people in a company decided that it was a good idea to do so. And as always when the dust settles, the reason for the failure is too obvious to ignore. How does this happen so much? It's perplexing, were there too many like-minded people making a big decision?
Maybe it should rely more on the application of this culture-fit idea. If you are managing a factory assembly line, do you really want employees challenging you on how things are done in a pre-designed environment? There are tons of items to be produced constantly and managed on a minute-by-minute basis, wouldn't you want everyone to be harmonious, team players? Virtually all effective military forces operate this way, and all the world's most significant religions do as well...so what's the problem?
A company needs cooperation and harmony to build a strong foundation, and they also need to be challenged in order to innovate. What if your company or institution needs more replication than innovation? Like a parts factory...Or it needs more innovation than replication, like a research and development firm? Upon my own independent research thus far, many articles seem to side with one school of thought over the other. But wouldn't a company need both? Because without your culture-fit folks, how would the company have an identity or product consistency? And without your culture-add folks, how would your company grow and innovate in an extremely competitive global market?
Richard Kim, Branch Manager of Manteca