September 1, 2016 | Hiring Tips for Managers

Cultural Fit in Emerging Growth Companies

One of my hobbies is mixed martial arts. My friends and family think I’m a little crazy, but I can’t help enjoy the training, and of course, the fighting. One thing I’ve learned is that fighting a smaller, faster guy can be very frustrating. They can be hard to hit, they strike quickly, and they’re gone before you can return fire.

Agility Has Become the Hallmark

Heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury agrees, “I prefer to fight a bigger guy. I don’t like fighting smaller guys; they give me problems with their agility.” Agility is a gift that should not be squandered in fighting or in business.

We have had the pleasure of working in, and working for, many emerging growth companies. They function differently than more established institutions and are definitely different animals. Time and time again, agility surfaces as a key hallmark of these companies—they simply must be agile. We are not talking about battleships or aircraft carriers here. We are talking speed boats! Speedboats can accelerate quickly, cruise at high velocity, and turn on a dime. So if these companies are going to be agile, they must hire agile people.

Failure occurs in most cases because of a lack of cultural fit, not because of incompetence. Skilled and intelligent people often fail when they are in the wrong environments. We see this all the time, so we thought it would be helpful to look at hiring for emerging growth firms through the lens of our 4 P’s of Cultural Fit.

1. Pace

Pace is the speed at which a group or team operates. Fast companies need fast people. Team members must act with a sense of urgency and are capable of “bursts” in order to meet time-sensitive goals—hitting needed gates. If you put a lower energy, slower moving, less urgent personality in your fast moving company, you can count on frustration for everyone.

2. Process

Process of decision-making is how a group makes a decision. A group can be mostly driven by accomplishing tasks, or driven to achieve outcomes. Team members in emerging growth companies really need to be outcome focused. They are the kind of people who are always driving the ball downfield, learning on-demand, making good decisions, and failing forward. Energy and vitality goes down the drain for your managers and other team members if you hire a person who needs to be task driven.

3. Philosophy

Philosophy of decision making is how opportunities and challenges are approached. Members of a group tend to be either dreamers or doers, idealists or pragmatists. Emerging growth companies definitely have visionaries, but in most roles, they need pragmatically minded people who can connect the strategic elements to actual execution. You need practically minded people to help get through the necessary gates. They must not only get things done, but they have to be adaptable in how they get things done. Hire a dreamer when you need a doer, and you will be left undone.

4. Play

Play is all about team building, collaboration, and bonding. Team members in emerging growth companies should be fervent about victory for the whole team. These people desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. If you end up hiring people more devoted to personal goals than to team goals, you end up with a lot of posturing and distraction instead of production.

Final Thoughts

If you get the cultural fit right, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining an agile and profitable environment. You will be able to dodge a punch and then fire right back!

Check out our Thought Leadership articles to learn more, or contact us to discuss your hiring and recruiting challenges.

Posted by Mark Whitman

Mark Whitman is the founder of TeamBuilder Search. Mark’s mission is to help clients recruit the top five percent of digital marketing executives, taking great satisfaction in helping clients out-recruit their competition. In the process of fulfilling his mission, he takes great care to help digital marketing leaders elevate their careers. People say Mark owns a recruiting and staffing company. He says he owns a life improvement company. To learn more about Mark visit our Leadership page.
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