Examining Your Culture: Do You Live in a Glass House?

Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. This, of course, is an old proverb, but it applies to businesses who may be criticizing other companies’ cultures right now. Simply put, you shouldn’t condemn others who might have similar flaws to your own.

Company culture

After all, company cultures are tricky. They are living, breathing things — the byproduct of careful gardening and tedious attention to detail. Pointing out the shortcomings of another company is more than a bad look; it’s often hypocritical. Before you start pontificating about your superior company culture, you may want to look in a mirror.

A recent survey of 1,000 professionals by TopResume found that 68% of workers have thought about leaving their companies because of the poor treatment they’ve received during the coronavirus pandemic. Employee expectations aren’t meeting reality, and what more is a company’s culture than the people who comprise it?

Before you pick up a stone, consider how you’ve cultivated your company culture over the past six months. Have you promoted transparency? Offered personal and professional support? Handled concerns with grace and honesty? Depending on your answers, you may discover you’re one of the people who live in glass houses.

Why Examine Company Culture?

If you’re too busy looking at other companies’ cultures, you risk losing sight of what makes your own company culture unique and inviting. Part of that approach is properly valuing your older, veteran employees — the ones who have been there through rough times and have helped shape the company culture by virtue of their loyalty.

These older employees “carry the torch” and can help with acclimating new hires to company culture and showing newer team members how to do things at the company, from common daily procedures to unique annual events. The best company cultures are where individuals at any level in the pyramid can talk with one another and gain from that perspective. If newer employees are treated with the same level of attention and respect, they will inherently carry that on to the next wave of team members.

Once the right people are plugged in, a company culture shapes itself. That’s why vetting potential employees for culture fit has become an essential part of fostering a positive company culture. Think about the food prepared at a restaurant, for example. Even if 99% of the ingredients are good, the 1% that’s bad will result in poor reviews and, potentially, achy stomachs. Similarly, companies have a responsibility to vet employees to ensure that no individual is souring the culture. Each team member must uphold the company’s ethics and values.

Great company culture

How to Improve Company Culture

In order to procure and protect your company culture, you need to have a detailed employee recruitment procedure. This is especially important right now if you’re hiring remotely during the pandemic. Here’s how you can vet potential employees for a culture fit:

1. Review references

Why do employers ask for references? Because they’re a firsthand account of potential employees’ work ethics and behaviors. This step should seem familiar: It’s one of the basic elements of a thorough interview. However, not all companies call interviewees’ references. If you want to make sure you’re hiring someone who will mesh well with your existing employees, make sure you call their references and review what others say about them online. If you want to go the extra mile, ask their listed references for other references who know the person you might hire.

2. Ask questions that reveal their attention to detail

Details matter. They’re the difference between a high- and low-quality product and a successful and unsuccessful business. When you’re hiring, you want to know that they’ll pay attention to detail and thoughtfully approach both their work and their peers. Ask questions like, ”How do you ensure quality when you’re under a time restraint?” and “Can you describe how you handle team communication on projects?” and “What is your approach to interpersonal conflict?”

3. Learn about their personalities

Who are the candidates, and how would they describe themselves? What do they like to do on their days off? A company culture is influenced by the personalities of employees. If you try to completely separate work from home life, you’ll end up with a bored, frustrated workforce. There’s already a geographical disconnect, so you’ll want to make sure that existing employees and new hires are more than just faces on screens.

Because of the pandemic’s sudden and devastating impact, it’s easy to see which companies are struggling to maintain and improve their cultures. Instead of criticizing their mistakes, look inward, learn from them, and protect your culture by hiring the right people.


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