Add to your culture, don’t fit people into it

Recruiters, more specifically, other recruiters, love to talk about culture fit. They’ll tell you that this is what makes them different, oblivious to the fact that (at least) 15 other recruiters have been in touch saying the same thing in the last week. They call it a ‘differentiator’, blissfully unaware of the more than 10,000 agencies in the UK making ‘different’ a very difficult thing to be.

The thing is, hiring for culture fit makes sense as a sound bite, a concept, but can you even define your culture? Is it ‘work hard, play hard’? Is it ‘professional and results driven’? Is it ‘caring’?  It likely hasn’t occurred to these other recruiters that finding people to match culture fit just constrains a business to having lots of the same types of people.  Lots of ‘work hard, play hard’ people leads to empty desks on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings.  Lots of ‘professional and results driven’ people will leave your clients thinking you employ robot sentinels and not human beings.  You get the point.
It's time we considered ‘culture add’.  What can my candidates add to your culture, and therefore your business? It might be that they’re great coaches, fantastic at sharing ideas and developing your more junior staff.  It might be that they’re uber-calm under pressure and can temper the environment when the proverbial shit hits the fan.  Culture, real culture, can’t be condensed to sound bites and stereotypes, and apart from anything else it likely differs from department to department too.
I’d bet anything your corporate finance team is entirely different to your audit or tax teams.  You know I’m right, but more importantly it’s a good thing that they differ.
Look, hiring into Accountancy Practice is hard enough.  Candidates are hard to come by as it is, never mind rejecting someone because they’re too similar or too different to your existing staff and I’m not advocating that.  I’m just saying consider what people can add to your team (outside of doing their actual job) and not just whether they fit in precisely.  The best team mates or managers I’ve ever had have been different to me in subtle and major ways and they’re the people I’ve learned the most from.
Do you know what I mean now?
Author: Matt Hickford