Best of TLNT 2017: Moving Past Culture Fit to “Culture Add”

Editor’s Note: It’s an annual tradition for TLNT to count down the most popular posts of the previous 12 months. We’re reposting each of the top 30 articles through January 2nd. This is No. 8 of 2017. You can find the complete list here.

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There is so much out there about cultural fit. And it does have its place. We all want that perfect candidate. The one that can live up to all the clichéd buzz words — “hit the ground running,” “add value,” “contribute right away,” and of course “fit in.”

And yet, at the same time, we are looking to build a culture of diversity in backgrounds, thinking and experience. We are looking for people who can bring something to the table versus just bring themselves to work. That’s why I think it is now time we move past culture fit and embrace a new term — “Culture Add.”

Why culture add?

When you are only thinking of culture fit, I think there is a good chance you are hiring people who think and act alike. In today’s world of speed, innovation, and adaptability, you might just need different talents around the table to progress as much as you need to. When you consider if a candidate is a “culture add” then you are looking for candidates to bring in new ideas, a different point-of-view, and bring out different traits in others in a collaborative, positive way. Ideally, this person will fill in what you might be missing to give you that competitive edge for your products or services.

The 3 Es of culture add

Employees: If you embrace this concept of culture add, I urge you to be clear with your existing employees that the next new team member will be great — but may not be just like them. Emphasize the benefits of collaboration among diverse teams, and when those benefits happen celebrate them.

Employer brand: If you want to go even further to embrace the concept of culture add, take the time to look at your employer brand — from your website to your internal materials. What would you need to do to refresh or enhance it to speak more broadly to the qualities of your culture and how prospective employees can add to it? Decide if it’s an option or an imperative and make your choice known.

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Expectations: Provide change management training so hiring managers know how to talk with candidates and to help managers  understand there are expectations they’ll need to meet. Offer them training so they don’t fall into a bias trap.

And above all, remember that when you hire for culture add you’re not just adding to the culture but adding to the bottom line as well.

Jody Ordioni

Jody Ordioni is the author of “The Talent Brand.” In her role as Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Brandemix, she leads the firm in creating brand-aligned talent communications that connect employees to cultures, companies, and business goals. She engages with HR professionals and corporate teams on how to build and promote talent brands, and implement best-practice talent acquisition and engagement strategies across all media and platforms. She has been named a "recruitment thought leader to follow" and her mission is to integrate marketing, human resources, internal communications, and social media to foster a seamless brand experience through the employee lifecycle.