Special from #SHRM2018: Culture Beats Skills and Stars … Until the IPO
You can hire for skills, or hire stars, for culture fit, or for a mixture of those, says best-selling author Adam Grant. Data show that with fast-growing start-ups, cultural fit trumps. However, as companies grow, culture becomes a problem. Grant, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, offered his tips at SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago.
The danger with culture, Grant says, is that your company can become a cultural museum, that is, an organization that favors the status quo. Culture is bad at change and innovation, he says. Favoring cultural fit weeds out diversity of all kinds. People tend to find themselves reflected in those they hire.
What to do instead? Start valuing cultural contribution, Grant says. His research indicates that the savings from avoiding hiring a selfish employee are about $12,489. And that doesn’t count the cost of the firing and rehiring of a new employee (and potential lawsuits).
Grant also divides the workforce into givers and takers. Givers are helpful, supportive; takers cause cultural damage, paranoia, steal ideas, and make colleagues afraid to share.
Givers are further divided into agreeable and disagreeable. You might think that the disagreeable givers were the worst, but there’s an interesting caveat. Agreeable givers will enthusiastically endorse and support most anything, so their endorsement doesn’t mean much. However, if a disagreeable giver endorses a suggestion, that’s news.
How many have had a leader who said, don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions. That’s a [problem, Grant says. Lots of times someone sees a a big problem, but doesn’t have a solution—that problem will never come to light. Grant says to develop an “upward-challenging network.”
Also, he recommends, avoid the organizational uniqueness bias—when you think your organization is so special and different that you can’t learn from other organizations.
Finally, he says, create new channels for knowledge sharing. For example, he says, ban the exit interview. That’s the worst possible time to ask those questions. Try instead an entrance interview, he says. That’s a great new channel.
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