How Finding and Managing Talent Shapes Organizational Culture

By Posted in - Organizational Culture on July 15th, 2015 4 Comments

Organizational culture can be a difficult term to define.  Its importance changes based on the company and the elements it encompasses can have different criticalities.  But how do we shape such a broad concept in a way that will bring about success for the organization?  Before we can discover how to control and form a strong organizational culture, we need to clearly understand what it is.

Organizational culture is a concept that has no clear or widely accepted definition. A variety of experts have provided different models of organizational culture in the literature. While different, they all agree that organizational culture is a multi-dimensional construct comprised of a variety of elements. I would like to propose a simple model that consists of six core elements.

Six Core Elements of Organizational Culture

History/Folklore. The early years of a company have an enduring effect on culture. The early leaders of a company leave a legacy through stories and legends that are passed on through the years. The tone and message of these stories helps underscore what is valued in the organization.

Communications/Symbols. Communications are both formal (e.g., employee newsletter) and informal (what is discussed in the break room). Symbols are communication short cuts that are usually visual (e.g., placing ample visitor parking next to the main entrance is a visual symbol of the importance of customers and partners)

Metrics/Rewards/Recognition. What is measured is what matters in an organization. Likewise, what individuals are recognized and reward for is also a clear indication of what is important in the organization.

Behavioral Rules/Norms. Behavioral rules evolve over time. These rules define how individuals are expected to interact with each other and how work should be approached in the organization.

Valued Skills. What skills are most evident in senior leaders and Managers? What skills are most important for promotions? These are the skills that are most valued.

Valued Traits. Similarly, what traits are most evident in senior leaders and Managers? What traits are most important for promotions? These are the traits that are most valued.

Examples of the Organizational Culture Model

Let’s look at an example that illustrates the model. Suppose you work in a culture that is described as agile, innovative, and dynamic. Valued traits would likely include traits like openness, energy, initiative, and risk-taking. Valued skills would likely include skills like adaptability, creativity, and strategic thinking. History and folklore would likely include a history of market successes seeing opportunities before competitors and stories of amazing speed in execution. The rules of behavior would include behavioral norms like “allowing and encouraging individuals to pursue intrapreneural activities” and “not punishing failures but considering them as learning opportunities”. There might be annual awards for individuals with the greatest innovations or game changing achievements. Internal communications would likely highlight speed in execution and innovation and past awards and photos of key players might be displayed as symbols of success in the hallways and walls.

But how do we take this model and define and fortify it within our organization? And even more difficult, how do we improve or shift our organizational culture given this model?

The bottom line is talent.  From every executive to manager to the boots-on-the-ground, a company needs to ensure that they are able to locate the right attributes in new hires and develop the unique skills to success in their internal talent.

Aligning and modifying Talent Management and Talent Selection practices becomes increasingly important when trying to change or further develop the culture of an organization.  Companies of all sizes place a lot of effort and time into choosing the right words for a mission statement, drafting a set of key values, ensuring that all employees are aware of the company goals and what it is all about.  This is very important for communication and understanding throughout the organization, however, these efforts will all be in vain if it is not reflected in the Talent Management and Talent Selection processes.

Competency models can be used to define desired behaviors, traits, and skills consistent with the desired culture.  These models are integrated into recruitment and selection efforts to bring individuals into the organization that possess skills, values, traits, and behaviors that are aligned with the desired culture.  OMNIview’s fitQuest Talent enables all organizations to actively modify, drive, and create competency models that will ensure you have a clear vision of the important values needed in new talent for the organization.  Using technology that cannot be found in other assessment tools, OMNIview also enables any organization, large or small, to define key elements of their culture and ensure that any hired candidate will be the best match to those key features that make any culture unique.

Performance management and other reward systems then ensure that expectations, actions, and results directly aligned to the desired organizational culture are recognized and rewarded.  Learning and development processes further develop the desired skills, values, and behaviors of existing employees.  Promotion and succession practices ensure that career progressions have a clear link to modeling the desired culture.

OMNIview’s foreQast Talent Management Suite ensures that any organization is well-equipped with a tool that will fit to their culture, using competencies in our system or custom created so that talent will be evaluated and developed to further enhance a company’s culture or drive a cultural shift.

OMNIview provides both the expertise and the tools needed to reinforce a given culture or effect desired culture change. If you are interested in learning how OMNIview can assist you in managing your organization’s culture, please contact us today.

Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

About Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

Patrick Hauenstein is the President and Chief Science Officer for OMNIview. During his free time Pat likes to cook. He is particularly fond of traditional southern cuisine. Pat is also an animal lover ...
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