Peter Drucker said ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’ and the more organisations I speak with, the more I understand the impact of culture. Every executive appointment today must be a winner: We don’t have the luxury of time or money to make a hiring decision that won’t substantially benefit our organisation. The more senior the position, the greater the impact and the greater the culture fit, the greater the opportunity for success.
Cultural fit is integral to evaluating executive candidates. A capability driven recruitment strategy may help an organisation achieve its goals, but a strategy that incorporates culture brings the spirit, cohesion and inspiration that underpins success. When conducting a search for a CEO, for example, ‘Do they fit?’ is a key question to consider. It should be assessed as a component of the selection criteria, but how do we measure ‘fit’?
Of course we would expect an individual’s experience to be included in any hiring assessment. However, a more thorough process will include culture, as well as considering leadership competencies and performance. As we build a candidate profile, how would our prospective CEO work with their teams, integrate with the organisation and interact with the Board in their new role? Having examined an individual’s capability based on their past performance and leadership potential, we should also look critically at the organisation when recruiting its talent. What phase is it in… start-up, growth, consolidation? At what stage is the culture of the organisation… currently defining its culture, an established brand, or a market leader? Is the Board therefore, hiring for today’s culture or the culture of tomorrow?
If you asked a group of leaders within an organisation to define its culture, it’s highly likely you would receive a range of different answers. Subjective interpretations don’t contribute to a robust recruitment processes, so it’s critical to have a common understanding of what culture means. Using a sophisticated, well-researched, professional tool such as the TRANSEARCH Orxestra Methodology© can help an organisation to quantify key aspects of the candidate profile, including culture, leadership and performance. Once we’ve clearly established what we’re looking for in an executive and defined the competencies and culture, we can use the Orxestra© methodology to assess the candidate’s capabilities and fit to these requirements. This provides both client and candidate a clear picture of ‘fit’. This can be further augmented with psychometric assessments to add another dimension to the hiring decision.
A strong culture is evident from the clear set of values and beliefs that enable its employees to be passionate and productive even while working with mundane systems and processes. Our experience as executives tells us people in a positive cultural environment are more engaged, self-motivated, will communicate more openly and work effectively with each other and their customers (internal or external). I think culture assessment should be fundamental in the talent acquisition process. Now that’s something to strategise about over breakfast.
Bill Sakellaris is Managing Director of TRANSEARCH International, one of Australia’s newest Executive Search companies and a Top 10 Global search firm. He possesses extensive industry experience having worked in sales and business management positions for multinational corporations such as DuPont and Ciba Geigy. He complements this experience with a reputable profile and deep understanding of executive search, talent management and HR consulting spanning over 20 years.