The importance of defining company culture

The importance of defining company culture Author: Katie Hart Published: 5 March 2018

Company ‘fit’ is an increasingly significant part of today’s hiring process, from both the client and the candidate perspective.

For clients, where historically a candidate who was technically strong, got their head down and achieved their objectives was desirable; today that does not make up the full package. The ‘fit’ with a company’s culture and vision, along with the interpersonal skill set, are given equal weighting to ability when selecting the right candidate.

Equally for candidates culture is increasingly stated as a reason to stay with their current business or as a reason to leave. Being able to identify with a business culture and values is a critical part of the candidate’s selection process and will make a potential new role stand out from the rest in a highly competitive talent market.

It is easy to understand this shift in the decision making process. For example, gone are the days of technical being in a silo and operating just within the factory walls. Today’s technical director is an ambassador for the brand, a champion of the product and a guardian of quality. If they do not believe in the company values they may be less likely to enrich customer relationships, they may find it difficult to provide inspirational leadership and they may be less motivated to drive for excellence. Likewise, an innovation director that does not connect with their brand and its purpose in the market may not push the boundaries and develop new products in the same way as a fully engaged developer.

Some consumer and retail companies are fantastic at describing their culture and it resonates through every channel of their business. Successful SME’s typically work very hard at defining their culture from the outset and it will remain core to the company as they grow.

Other companies understand their culture and are able to recognise the personalities that will fit, however they find it very difficult to describe and put it into words. Likewise, when a candidate is asked within what culture they work best in or to clarify what they mean by ‘the right culture’, many find it difficult to define.

In both instances, retained search is able to add true value to the recruitment process by getting into the detail and under-the-skin of the culture from the very beginning.  Spending time with clients and their existing talent is invaluable to get to know the people. Likewise spending time with candidates allows us to assess them technically and also understand to which company cultures they are most suited – we are able to get to know their personalities, something that is very hard to determine from just a CV. We then make insightful and confident candidate recommendations taking all the pieces of the puzzle into consideration to offer an all-encompassing, lasting recruitment solution.

A new employee that plugs a skills gap and gels with the immediate and wider team is an instant asset to a business. So when starting a search as a client or candidate take time to consider company culture; it will certainly pay off. 

Katie Hart specialises in senior technical appointments across the Retail and Consumer sectors.

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