It’s no secret that company culture influences hiring decisions, but at some organizations, (like Zappos) it plays a role in firing decisions as well. Failing to contribute to company culture is a legitimate reason for dismissal according to CEO Tony Hseih. He says, “Our whole belief is if you get the culture right, then most of the other stuff, like delivering great customer service or building a long-term brand or business will just be a natural byproduct.” While not all organizations possess as strong of a cultural identity as Zappos, many of the growing companies we work with are striving to craft one. Those candidates who will advance the community as well as themselves stand the best chance at landing and maintaining top roles in today’s market.
The majority of hiring failures are the result of poor cultural fit, with the percentage potentially being as high as 89 percent. Hiring managers understand this reality and a good interview will convince the prospective employer not only of your ability to do the job, but that you could be a high-functioning member of their workplace community. Reach out to your network to learn what you can about the culture as you prepare for your interview. This goes beyond what kind of snacks they have on hand and whether or not you can wear shorts. Ask about team development and communication across different departments. Ask about the on-boarding process and find out why people love to work at the company.
Step up and look for opportunities to lead in activities outside of the workplace. Bruce Madnick, managing partner of top-50 accounting firm Friedman LLP told US News, “Every charity drive, company picnic, sports team and holiday party is a chance to step up and demonstrate leadership in a way that benefits the whole company,” Madnick says. He explains: “We often find leaders through internal events and charity drives. Often, these are great people who just haven’t yet had the opportunity to lead client engagement, and we learn a lot about them by what they contribute.”
Step Outside Your Space
The easiest way to begin contributing to company culture is to engage with the people around you. And not just those who are easily accessible. Reach out to the offices at the other end of the hall. Invite the accounting department out for lunch. Talk to people you don’t see every day at your company picnic. When you create new links across staff, opportunities to collaborate will arise and your sense of belonging and comfort will strengthen. There may be professional benefits too; the more you move between silos, the more visible you are to management and the better positioned you are for leadership assignments.
Whether you need a team for the local Walk for Hunger, you’ve always wanted to start a company softball league, or you haven’t said hi to the ladies on the fifth floor in a while, now is the time to take the leap. It just might be possible that your workplace can also be a place of meaning, friends, and a little fun, too.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.