I don’t agree with you, Ms Netflix HR.

I don’t agree with you, Ms Netflix HR.

It is not going to be a long post. But something got my blood boiling recently and I feel the urge to share. “Stop hiring for culture fit” – what an outrageous and ridiculous statement? And coming from who? Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer for Netflix between 1998 and 2012… Come on!

So much has been written and spoken about the absolute necessity of assessing the right cultural fit of the candidate to an organisation, and the other way around, that I don’t need to repeat it all over again and pretend I just discovered a light bulb. But doing what I am doing, building a recruitment platform that is designed to simply MAKE IT BETTER for both candidates and enterprise to recruit and retain successfully, I cannot sit quietly when somebody says that culture fit is a rubbish concept. And it is coming from somebody who, rightly so, would be perceived as an expert in this subject.

Stop Hiring for Culture – what a silly slug.

So Patty McCord recently wrote an article for Harvard Business Review  and gives it a slug: Stop Hiring for Company Culture. And I guess, I could put it down to some level of ignorance if you think that an A player (or whatever you want to call top performers) would be an A player in every organisation, and their cultural fit plays no role what so ever in how they approach their responsibilities within the frames of a specific organisation. But when Patty says that: What most people really mean when they say someone is a good fit culturally is that he or she is someone they’d like to have a beer with. – I find it simply stupid and childish approach to understanding what a cultural fit is.

And maybe the author didn’t fully think it through, it is a controversial statement in the era when everybody talks about the culture fit, so good when you want to get people drawn to the article. Especially when you read the rest of the article and see how often she brings examples of importance of the right fit in her own Netflix, e.g.:

  • What problems and why Netflix was trying to solve in its early days and how important it was to find candidates with a good approach to problem solving
  • Why Christian Kaiser didn’t want to leave AOL at the time? Because his boss was an excellent communicator! So, Patty did the right thing and hired that boss who in turn built an amazing team around him inside Netflix.

What are those if not understanding the right culture fit?

It’s not about beer and bean bags.

Company culture has nothing to do with beer on tap, pool tables and flashy bean bags on the floor. It should be obvious – why else would so much time and best qualified resources all over the world would be dedicated to understanding different types of company culture?

But if you want more specific confirmation of that, just look at the Good & Co report on different company cultures and how it varies from a general perception.  According to the survey results, Microsoft employees are more creative and innovative than Apple or Facebook teams. So, if your personality is that of a visionary, entrepreneurial, no-limit thinking individual, don’t necessarily shoot for openings in Apple.

A big fat NO from me.

So, I am not dropping the focus off the cultural fit. No, no. A very big NO. Quite the opposite – I am finding ways where companies of all sizes can benefit from a reliable and easily accessible cultural assessment: so they can understand who they are. Combine it with a clear understanding of the company’s short, medium and long-term objectives and you know what kind of people to hire to help you achieve those. Do you need a bunch of disciplined perfectionists who will not ask too many questions, but just get the work done? Or would you be better of with getting couple of engaging visionaries who can help you inspire your team and drive innovation? Knowing that, you know how to write your job spec, where to look for the right talent and how to engage with them.

87% candidate engagement? Yes!

Not to blow my own trumpet, but so far following those principles allows me to reach over 87% potential candidate engagement rate. And that’s for a high-level Head of Sales position for a group of companies in a very specific sector – not quite so crowded space.

So, no, Ms McCord, it’s nothing to do with a beer after work. It’s about personality, values, objectives and personal drives that should align. And if you want to have a beer when you passionately discuss those with your new employee/employer – go ahead! Knock yourself out.

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