Does your organization crave finding employees to fit your culture?

Talent attraction is not simply posting on a job board and praying the best candidates magically appear. If only it were that simple! Of course, people will apply – but will they have the right skills and experience for your position? Generally, not.

Once in a while, they do have the perfect background your organization seeks. During the interview with your managers, they seem to be a good fit, but how can you tell if they fit your culture?

Do you know your company’s culture?

How does your company define its culture? Upon examination, is your culture what you advertise, or is it what you wish for? Does your company have a defined culture, or does each manager define the culture for their team?

When you begin to probe “company culture,” many times, you find there is a wish that your company culture mirrors the defined cultures of the best in class in your industry. 

Therefore, the company leadership needs to define the culture. Then they need to live the culture. Far too often, the example they set is not what they ask staff to exhibit. Now, you know one reason why you may not be able to find candidates who match your company culture. There are none.

When your company culture does not match

Let’s say that your organization advertises that you are a company that listens to staff when making decisions – that you build consensus with the team before making a decision. Then, you attract candidates who may be top performers who left companies where the leadership tells everyone what to do – top-down leadership. The candidates crave a culture where what they say makes an impact.

They visit your website, where your business states that it values its employees, that people are rewarded for the contributions they make. “Wow! This is where I want to work! I want to be appreciated for my contributions.” 

They interview well, and the company management interviews well. The candidate is excited to receive and accept an offer. 

What happens next?

The top performer begins working for the company. The company trumpets its consensus-building culture (that they market on the corporate website).

The new employee is excited to contribute and sees opportunities to make positive, measurable impacts in their first months. They make their suggestions that get shot down “because you have not worked here long enough to understand our market.” They swallow hard. Then they decide that maybe that explanation is true. They focus on learning what they do not know about the market.

One day, months later, they are meeting with their manager. During the meeting, the top performer discovers their manager is telling them what to do – without asking their opinion or, worse, taking credit for the suggestions they made months ago. The clock turned to midnight. Their new carriage for their career just turned into a pumpkin. They begin their search for a new company that lives its advertised culture.

Does that describe your company’s culture?

If your company markets a consensus-building culture but practices a top-down decision-making process, your business’ employee engagement and retention will suffer. Worse, you will lose top performers whose suggestions may have propelled the company revenues and profits forward – but the leaders knew better (they assumed).

Own your company culture

If the leadership practices top-down decision-making, own it. Some employees like to be told what to do. As a result, they will do their work without questioning the leadership’s decisions. Their motivation is to keep their heads down and do their job. In return, they receive a check and benefits.  They will occasionally be promoted into management positions, where they will continue to live what leadership tells them.

If this is the type of person that you want working for your company, the “steady Eddie or Eve,” ask questions that determine if that is their preference – “What culture do you prefer? A culture where the manager gives you the direction you follow – or a culture where you are expected to make entrepreneurial suggestions that may move the company in another direction?” If their preference is simply to follow directions and have the right skills and experience to receive an offer, create an attractive offer.

If their manager expects employees who listen to their direction and complete their tasks as directed, you will probably retain that person. They will do the best they can on those tasks – and not be a threat to take their manager’s job – everyone is happy. 

Recruiting is not magic. It is focused, hard work.

Bill Humbert with Provocative Thinking Consulting, Inc. is a speaker, talent attraction consultant, career transition consultant and offers training contracts at