What does it mean to have a cultural match? 

I often get asked “what does it mean to have a cultural fit between companies and does this actually matter?” Let me tell you right away; it matters, and it matters a lot.

Studies show that not having a cultural fit is the main reason why partnerships break. Communication is based on cultural values and these determine the collaboration outcome.

Company culture can be a difficult topic for a lot of businesses to deal with, especially when you are in the position of having to partner with another company on a certain project. Often the values a business is trying to “sell” doesn’t reflect in their work of employee’s motivation. That’s why we wanted to give you a thorough analysis of “What it means to have a cultural fit?”.


Where to start?

Where does a company culture come from exactly? Is it something the HR person or the marketing department is creating to sell potential hires to work for their company? Usually, the culture of a company is a mixture of decisions made by the organization from top to bottom as well as the cultural example set by the motivation of the people working there. But most experts actually believe there is one obvious dominating factor where the company cultures roots can be detected: 80% of Culture is your Founders Culture


Founders = Culture

A company’s culture according to Molly Graham, former Culture manager of Facebook, usually has its roots in the characteristics of their founders. It tends to mirror their personalities, strengths, weaknesses as well as intentions. The people that get hired by the management who usually get hired by founders in some way or another tend to reflect similar traits as the persons guiding the ship. This does not mean employees all must think and act the same as the persons who started the company, however, certain aspects of ideology will always be passed on from the founders. So, you should ask yourself: What are the values that the founders are living on, their motivations to build the company, long-term vision and mission? These specific questions are the most influential parts that set the ground base of company culture.


How hiring influences the culture

Unfortunately, there is no culture-wizard that can be consulted every time someone has to create/re-adjust the culture of their company. But one step that can certainly have an immediate impact on your culture is: whom to hire or fire. The hiring part is – as most people know – a crucial part of creating a productive, happy & motivated work environment, however, the firing part can be as important as new additions. To know when to part ways with people who could potentially lead to unhappy or even unsafe feelings in a workspace is a very important skill to have. If you are successful at deciding when to part ways with someone, you can avoid a waterfall of problems. Another very important factor that can define a culture or help companies achieve the most success, is the perspective and purpose employees see themselves as within the company. Giving people the opportunity to prove themselves, get a promotion or even the chance to work remote can change the culture immediately. There are obviously many different characteristics and reasons that stand behind certain hiring decisions, but it can be found that the hiring practice tends to have either a more “Team” or “Elite” focus. The following types represent extremes that are seldom lived to the full extent.


Focus on Team

Companies who focus on the team tend to specifically hire for culture fit first and are so called team-oriented companies. These companies value skill-level and overall experience of potential candidates slightly less than being a motivated person and how his or her character matches with the company’s goals/strategy/team. Why would companies hire like this? They believe in the strategy of happy employees make for happier customers. A common sector of business where this occurs is customer service focused companies such as small agencies ie.

Focus on Elite

Businesses who follow the elite culture often only hire “the best from the best”, meaning only graduates from highly rated universities and via their network where they know that usually the connection can in the long-run pay-off. The goal behind all of this is that those companies try to push the envelope and therefore need certain trained/skilled employees who rather then follow, lead this “revolution”. Companies like SpaceX try to headhunt people, that are young and want to change “the game”. This means headhunting a specific kind of personnel that is motivated to bend the norm and who is willing to work 60h-80h a week.

A different way of looking at company culture

Every company’s culture is unique in their own way, however, there are defining characteristics that make it possible to differentiate organizational cultures. Not all characteristics may be directly connected to the company founders, but evolve from structures that the company operates in.

Anthropologists came up with different ways how to characterize and name different culture types. Culture cannot be measured by a static metric, but rather an evolving one that is changing dynamically every instant. For the purpose of this article, we want to simplify the findings to three different domains that reflect the structure in the company and therefore the culture which is inherent in these structures.


Horizontal, conventional or progressive culture

There are three main different cultural types that can be observed in many companies.

One of them is the horizontal also the flexible or “free spirit” culture, which can be found a lot of times in the startup sector. The goal of collaboratively helping the usually small company grow can be a powerful way of succeeding.

The conventional culture is often seen in the more traditional companies that have clear hierarchies and most of the time still struggle to communicate through new mediums such as social media etc. Over the several years, companies – mostly big corporations – have shifted towards a more progressive culture.

Uncertainty is the definitive trait of a transitional/progressive culture, because employees often don’t know what to expect next. Company structures may change from day to day and an immense amount of flexibility is required. Mergers, acquisitions or sudden changes in the market can all contribute to a progressive culture. Usually clients or customers are often separate from the company’s audience, because these companies usually have investors or advertisers to answer. Commonly also companies who have this kind of culture are newspapers or magazines.

How can EASTCODE help me find the perfect cultural match?

Clearly, there are many factors that determine company cultures and when matched with the wrong one, it may lead to devastating outcomes. Cultures determine lived values, which furthermore determine many other attributes of the company. For example, communicational structures, hierarchy, reward systems, how ambitioned people are, if quality or prize is more important, how clients are treated or how loyal employees are to their job.

Many clients come to EASTCODE, because they are unhappy with their present Software Agency. The typical quote we hear in these situations is:

“They don’t know how to do what we tell them. They just don’t understand us.”

During our due diligence process, we ask every Software Agency cultural questions that let us better understand what kind of culture these companies arise from. We translate this data into our own developed matrix which can help us in understanding which kind of client would fit to them and which one would not. 

We use our know-how in our due diligence process to ensure that a company fits with a software agency on a cultural level, which is the perfect base to work together.

Would you like to know better how we do it?

Write us at office@eastcode.eu or meet us at our Office. We are happy to help!