When I was recruited to return to an employer I had resigned from 18 months earlier, I had a unique opportunity to meet with some employees I knew and ask them about how things were going. In short, I could run a mini culture test.
I left because the culture was actually getting too team-centric. I was ready for a new challenge, I wanted to move to a different region, but the team I was on was not yet delivering the result we had planned for. The culture was now rewarding individuals based on team results, not based on the individual’s contribution to the team. So I left on my own. I did not need permission from my employer to find a new career opportunity.
After the usual catching up discussions, I asked about the culture. How did these guys feel about it? I would say that none of them gave the answer that the senior VP would have wanted them to say. They weren’t disparaging, but they were clear on what they thought the problem areas were, and supportive of the strengths that had continued from before. They were still paying at 75th percentile, and getting good talent for that. Managers were improving the feedback and performance review processes. And they had a new customer focus. Team was important, but the customer was now clearly at the center of their efforts.
I went back, and it was a great move. The culture had changed, and for the better. As I noted in this post, it was fragile and disintegrated quickly once a new leader opted for a different culture.
Is your culture message clear and consistent? If you are actively recruiting a talented candidate who may have connections you don’t know about on the inside, will they hear about a culture that reflects your own branding of the culture?
No one culture appeals to every employee. For everyone that loves being part of a team, there are those whose performance is optimized when left to themselves.
How have you branded your professed culture, and what do your employees actually call it?