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Goodbye culture fit, hello culture add

By Beth Wingad

Hiring someone who’ll fit seamlessly into your team? Sounds great. Or does it? For a long time, the standard approach to hiring has been to find someone who fits straight into the culture of your existing business. But recently conversations have been shifting away from this as concerns about homogenous cultures stifling innovation and hiring processes leaning into unconscious biases grow. 

Here’s where culture add comes in instead. A culture add hire is ‘someone who not only aligns with your values, but also brings new skills and perspectives to the table’.

We think you should stop hiring for culture fit, and aim for culture add instead… 

Same old, same old

They say you don’t grow in you comfort zone, and the same can be said for businesses. Yes, your tried and tested ‘culture fit’ approach might be comfortable, but ask yourself, is it really the best approach?

When team members all have the same background, it can be much harder to tackle problems or challenges with a fresh approach. A range of backgrounds, lived experiences, ages, ethnicities, genders, means that you’ll have a wider range of knowledge to draw on, building an ultimately stronger team. 

Avoiding unconscious biases

This is the darker side of always hiring for culture fit. Affinity bias is human nature, we have a tendency to (often unconsciously) prefer people like ourselves. This can become an issue when it manifests itself in hiring processes, putting underrepresented candidates at a disadvantage, and actually creating a culture of exclusion.

‘Culture add’ (as with all diversity) shouldn’t just be a box ticking exercise. Different viewpoints and experiences are always what you should aim for when hiring someone new into your team. After all, diverse teams statistically deliver 60% better results

The bottom line? The ‘beer test’ is never a good candidate assessment.  

So how do you get hiring for culture add right?

We get it. It can be hard to move away from tried-and-tested hiring processes. But by being intentional when you go to hire new people for your team, you can make those ‘culture add’ hires and make your culture even stronger.

1. Change your mindset! Rather than seeing someone who wouldn’t ‘usually’ be the sort of person you’d hire as ‘missing’ something, reframe it as what they can add to the culture of the business. Don’t see someone being different as a clash, see it as an opportunity to build on your existing culture. ? 

2. Be open to change. If you’re not open to your company culture shifting somewhat, then hiring for culture add can’t work. It might not feel like the smooth sailing you’re used to, but it’s important to ride that feeling out. It shows you’re serious about building and evolving a brilliant, inclusive culture! ? 

3. It’s all about aligning values but bringing new perspectives. At their core, you want a new hire to align with your values and hiring for culture add isn’t about abandoning that. Instead, it’s about striving for a team that has different perspectives, experiences, and attitudes who are all working towards the same goal. ? 

4. Don’t be afraid to challenge feedback. If someone in your team interviews someone and says they’re ‘not a good cultural fit’, don’t be afraid to challenge them.  ? 

Have you made the switch from culture fit to culture add? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences! Leave us a comment on LinkedIn or drop us an email on info@fmctalent.com 

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