A quick google search returns the following definition (other search engines are available, although sadly not ask Jeeves)

CULTURE | definition: the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
CULTURE | definition: the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.

In this case then , I’m talking less so about the first definition (although will touch on this shortly) and rather focus on the second definition. Team Culture is in essence the values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours shared by a group or team. It’s important to note that this could be either positive or negative.

Culture is talked about a lot but is actually pretty difficult to pin down and often misunderstood and more worryingly banded about with flagrant disregard when it comes to recruitment.

Top three pitfalls (assuming non toxic culture)
1. Cultural fit = Hiring people with a similar personality or interest  “Educated the expensive way, he knows his claret from his beaujolais”. credit Blur – Charmless Man
If your team all came from the same background , share the same interests there might be more of a probability you are going to get on but where is your diversity? Where are your different opinions?
Where are differing experiences that can add something to the team? It’s important to have mutual respect between a team but you don’t have to be best of friends outside of work and sometimes this is forgotten in forming briefs and within the recruitment process.
2. Misunderstanding Culture
“We have a great culture here. Our office has a beer fridge, table tennis table/table football/insert latest trend”
Unfortunately all you potentially have here is a beer fridge and a table tennis table. Culture is innate and physical items don’t play any part in it. In some cases all you have is an expensive coffee table and an impractical fridge.
3. Assuming your culture
“We have a work hard, play hard culture”
It is easy to make assumptions about your culture and create job adverts that are actually misleading and counter productive because you don’t highlight the right things that are important in your organisation.

Consider surveying your staff, find out about what they feel about the team/business. This is also something we can help with if that is easier. Our Recruit Happiness add on will in a format that requires very little yourselves, survey existing staff, analyse their feedback and produce a report that will give you a much better understanding about what staff feel the culture is.

Take away points
 Firstly you’ve got to know what your culture is, so invest some time to identify what this is. Talk about this within the recruitment advertising but create an “honest” picture.
 If your culture isn’t what you want it to be, what are you going to do about it? Are there attributes in people you need that will help shape this vision? Are you focusing on this in your recruitment?
 Consider the use of Cultural Fit assessments, although if you use this , when will they come in? Don’t go through lots of stages and then add this in. Make this a key driver. You want to assess capability to work and cultural fit. Can cultural fit be an exercise in your sifting?
 Be educated around unconscious bias so you don’t just pick someone with similar personality, background etc consider:
Introducing blind skills challenges instead of CV’s so hiring manager/recruitment team don’t know candidates gender, age, background etc

Making data-driven decisions, remove yourself from opinion rather base recruitment on facts of performance
Making your interview process structured, this way it is easier to benchmark and treats all candidates the same, removing subjectivity and allowing you to compare fairly and then base data on opinion.
Having an interview panel that is diverse and therefore doesn’t hopefully have too many peoplewith the same background, education etc.

By Andy Hall
Published on 22 nd October 2020
Andy Hall is the Co-Director of SELECTiVE and heads up our Ed Tech / Higher Education and Digital & Creative Sectors. We are on a mission to add value to our clients and candidates through great content and years of industry experience.

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