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Does Cultural Fit make for Group Think?

In advising clients we often mention the cultural fit of an organization.  Do you like ping pong tables next to your desk?  Is the organization one where all-nighters are part of how the work gets done?  In looking at culture on your way in you certainly want one where your core values are in alignment.  Violating this maxim creates a stressful work environment.  I would suggest that if you do take a position violating the rule of alignment of your basic core values (the gap between your values and the values of the organization) you create a space for stress and anxiety, in all likelihood limiting your tenure.

On the other hand, cultural fit can go too far.  One organizational development firm I’ve used in the past had a wonderful way of charting personality types.  One method determined how a new hire might fit in.  I had a pre-established team take the assessment.  They all had the same profile.  “Wonderful!” you say, “no arguments.”  Sure, but no creativity either.  We were without the creative tension that powers innovation.

Team fit and organizational culture don’t just happen.  We must move with intention to create an environment where the pieces are just different enough to make the machine go round.  My favorite author on workplace issues, Sue Shellenbarger, explore this in a WSJ article called, “The Dangers of Hiring for Cultural Fit.”