GOODBYE “CULTURE-FIT,” HELLO “VALUES-FIT”

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Rick Raimondi
Rick Raimondi
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With Amazon’s announcement that it is seeking to build their HQ2, there’s been a lot of discussion regarding the challenge of maintaining a corporate culture when you have two headquarters. Which, in turn, brings up a bigger issue: What should everyone focus on in the hiring process to ensure that new hires “fit in” with the corporate culture?

While many organizations have been focusing on “Culture-Fit,” I have seen that this is not a good idea. As the US workforce has become increasingly internationalized, “Culture-Fit” has become associated with “culture bias”—where candidates with similar backgrounds, opinions, communication styles, ethnicity and lifestyles are hired. However, what actually makes companies work is to instill a set of common values or principles. Which is why growing companies are now focusing on “Values-Fit,” hiring candidates who share the organization’s core values regardless of their opinions, ethnicity, etc.

Quite often these core values are a reflection of the personalities of the people that drive the company. For example, Dave Duffield, founder of PeopleSoft, had what was known as “Dave’s Rules of Business Behavior.” Among the edicts:

  • Clean bathrooms
  • Eschew office politics
  • Don’t use your business computer for personal business

Imagine that: A company that was bought by Oracle for $10B had a core value system where keeping the bathrooms clean was rule #1!

Another great example of a company that has clearly identified its core values is Amazon. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, recently wrote in the annual shareholder letter, “I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

Amazon’s value-driven process is defined by 14 Leadership Principles (including customer obsession, ownership and a bias for action) that guide employee behavior, focus and goals. You can bet that Values-Fit is an important aspect of Amazon’s hiring process.

In summary, it’s time to say goodbye to the outdated term, “Culture-Fit,” and focus instead on “Values-Fit,” which more appropriately matches the direction in which multi-nationals are heading. When organizations hire people that share a sense of purpose and guiding principles—but have diverse viewpoints, backgrounds and skill sets—everyone benefits.


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