Company culture - Does everybody have to fit in?

Aug 16 2013
Teryl @ Work

Is fitting in with the corporate culture important? Of course. Do all effective and productive employees do so? Of course not.

A few years ago, Accsys (PTY) Ltd celebrated 30 years in business. In keeping with traditional thinking around anniversaries, we used the pearl as a symbol for the year.

A key message for us was that the pearl is formed from a piece of grit that irritates the oyster, and the oyster slowly covers the grit with nacre, until a beautiful gem is formed.

So, as an IT company, we accepted that high productivity, creative people are not always aligned with the culture, but can add enormously to the growth and success of the business. But we found that the reverse was also true, if they are too high maintenance, they can drain the energy levels of both their management and their colleagues, to such a level, that their nett impact is negative.

We have put a strong focus on a 3 month probation period, in assessing for attitude, aptitude and skill. While it is really, really difficult to cut ties, it is so much better to be clear on expectations from day one, and have regular feedback sessions in the first months, as both employer and employee are then able to evaluate whether the fit is right, and whether the relationship should continue. Unfortunately, this takes time, and time is a rare commodity. Also, recruitment is another time consuming process, and it is sometimes easier just to continue along the path, hoping it will all come right. And sometimes it does.

Internal models that clearly specify standards and expectations, make the induction and first 3 months easier. Don't expect that simply reading the Policies and Procedures manual will give a new employee a clear picture of the company.

One of our models, pictured below, is an example. We try and share what we expect, using words or pictures, clarifying what the deliverables are, and sharing that a salary is not an Attendance Prize.