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Does the shoe fit?

In this post from Greg, he discusses the impact that an employee can have in a company if he/she does not have the “cultural fit”.  The same applies when you consider outsourcing aspects of your company to a 3rd party.

cultural fit, outsourcing

A number of months ago, I was engaged with a client to help determine the best growth strategy for the IT department of their company. A few options were on the table from enhancing their internal capabilities through to a total outsource partnership arrangement.  During the process, the usual modus operandi were followed i.e. possible partners were selected, a tender document was sent out, responses received and a short-list generated of companies that would be interviewed.

There were three parties who were invited to present. Each had different strengths on paper and in their responses. Each response was written and portrayed the company which was presenting it through its language and format. We had a fairly good idea from the presentation of the answers in the documents received about who we were likely to go with if the out-source was the direction we were taking.

Prior to the meetings we had decided on the what we were trying to achieve including putting a matrix together of weighted scores for things like technical capability, prior experience, commercial model etc. However, we had also included a weighting for an individual section called “Organisational Fit” a.k.a. cultural fit.

We were going to have to work closely and for extended periods of time with the company that was selected. We and they would have to understand one another’s corporate cultures to ensure success.

We had open discussions with all three parties over the course of twenty four hours.  One of the three shot themselves in the foot by having a disagreement amongst themselves in front of us. Big red mark.  The other two presented their companies superbly and the decision point was going to be difficult.

In the discussions internally afterwards, when the scores were done and the subjective conversations were had, one company clearly came away the winner based on the fact that they simply just “got” what we were trying to achieve.  In terms of experience, they were not quite as strong as the second choice company. They won because of their cultural fit pretty much being spot-on to ensure that both parties would be able to engage successfully for the duration of any contract.

Whoever you choose to work with you, an employee or a strategic outsource partner, cultural fit will be a key deciding factor in ensuring success. Take the time out to find out whether they suit you and your company. It costs a lot more to fix something after it has broken.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever put a square peg into a round hole only to discover that’s not going to work?

Photo : Paul Stevenson

Budding entrepeneur working on software product solutions for business. My background is mainly operational and senior management roles in mobile telecoms and software houses. Areas of expertise include professional services, out-sourcing, team management and general operations management. I've made the conscious decision to create my own company having spent the last 20 years learning in the corporate world. In my contributions to this forum, I will share some insights and learnings that I've picked up along the way and hopefully they will be useful to some or all!

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  • Anonymous

    Cutural fit or org fit is important whether deciding to work with a company as an employee or supplier AND when hiring staff or business partners.

    Nice Post Barney

  • Agree 100% Paul. Thanks for the comment.

  • I think that you raise an important point. In my case, I need people to be responsive if I am to help bring about change.I have now learnt to read the (or between) signals as to whether this company is one I want to work with. In my experience, something as simple as bad time keeping or not returning calls/e-mails is more often a reflection of the overall level of professionalism. You would be amazed how sloppiness of senior managers infests an org. It’s easier to walk away than dig a hole 🙂

  • Inspiring thoughts there Barney,
    If the square potential partner is flexible enough, they will fit into any “hole” (oh dear).
    Just an observation would be that it’s possible the not so fitting “loser” could in fact “get it” after another meeting. Then you would have a perfectly squished square in a fine round hole.

    However, I think you made the correct judgment on the day, and ascertained that the ‘winner” would not only be the best “fit”, but your client will work well with them and that the relationship will be long lasting. (Have you an update?)

  • Thanks for the comments Elaine. Yes, it worked out well – so the right call was made.

  • Agree – sometimes it is better to walk away. Thanks for the comment Niall.

  • Fantastic tool i.e. Dropbox.Great foru00a0traditionalu00a0marketers too, especially if working with designers and printers. u00a0No more ’email 1 of 8′ when sending across images. u00a0

  • Great post Elaine and some really greatu00a0suggestions, can I alsou00a0recommend Dropbox, it’su00a0extremely useful as Fred says below :)u00a0u00a0

  • Hi Fred, I have just received an upgrade to my Dropbox. I also have it on my phone – best thing ever! Having files in the Cloud is a great way to cut down on multiple emails and attachments, and as Connor mentions below, editing files in one space.nnConsider this, how is Dropbox going to help you relax on your holiday, when you have gone to pains to defer all other workflow? 😉 nnWell and idea that comes to mind now is delegation – one I should have included in the post!

  • Thanks Niall, bear in mind Dropbox allows us to work on the move, not something I wish to do when looking for a complete break from work. But yes, a fantastic resource, even the free version 🙂

  • Derbhile

    Timely advice. How about next time, doing a post for people who around during the summer and find that their business is quiet because everyone else is off. n

  • Thanks for the useful reminders, Elaine – a nice, simple, easy to follow post 🙂

  • Thanks Derbhile – will think about that one.nIn my line of work, there are traditionally busy times and quiet times, although it is all changing lately. nnHowever, it is a great time to either review our business goals, set new goals, or if it is during the summer, what better time to get the accounts off our hands? 🙂

  • Thank you kindly Paula 🙂

  • Anonymous

    +1 for Dropbox. I couldn’t imagine using my iPad or smartphone without it.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Elaine. I would recommend having filtering rules in place all the time for email not just when i’m away. A good rule is to always question each incoming email on how often you want to receive a similar type of email in the future. Then filter if appropriate.

  • Nicely timed Elaine ;-)u00a0 I go away tomorrow for 9 days and I won’t be online for most of that time.u00a0 One of the first things I do the day after I return is clear out my email inboxes and reply to urgent emails.u00a0 I’d forgotten about changing the voicemail because both my personal and work phones will be switched off for the duration, normally I’d check them every couple of days – not this time.u00a0 nnWhat a simple yet brilliant idea to change the RSS feeds for the time away.u00a0 One other thing I need to do, arrange for a neighbour to feed the cat, or he’ll move abode.

  • And all we need now is the time to take holidays :)nnA really comprehensive list – fair play.u00a0 I use dropbox as well – it rocks as a quick way of backing up your data. I work that trick with OOO all the time -well worth doing.nnThanks for sharing

  • Anonymous

    regarding the Out of Office Reply, I’ve heard of a few people who say the following. u00a0″I am currently on holiday and will be back on xxxx. u00a0When I return I will be deleting my inbox. u00a0If your email includes anything really urgent, then please resend it after xxxx”.nnnI haven’t had the nerve to try that approach myself. u00a0Has anyone else tried it, or would they consider it?

  • Frank,nMy professional opinion is that anyone using email needs to take responsibility for that service and allowing people to contact them. Pushing it back to the sender is unprofessional in my opinion, especially if you are a business, you will find yourself OUT of business fairly sharp!nnI see nothing wrong with suggesting sending it again after a certain date, but on a personal note, I dislike ultimatums 🙂

  • Barney, nI think I need to do another post on WHY it is so important to take time away from work. Watch this space!nGad you utlilse the extra day to catch up also. Behold the OOO 🙂

  • Thank you kindly Mairu00e9ad,nI have a feeling I will not be “re-subscribing” to most of the RSS feeds I ditched :)nIt’s timely because I needed a check list also.nnRegarding voice-mail, if you are diligent about keeping them switched off, it is a good idea to have a message ready to inform callers of your impending return :)nnAs a side note, I think it is important for business owners to be very clear they are not available, and for employees to delegate, and for both to have a strategic plan in place.nnThanks for stopping by and sharing your experience

  • Yes Frank, I would agree.nI find many employees are fearful of filters and rules with their email programs, and the main reason tends to be that they have not been trained.nSimple rules are so effective and can really work as time savers and stress busters.nnThanks for the great tip on being more mindful of mails coming in, and possibly building a strategy to deal with repetition and volume.

  • Anonymous

    I can see your point especially from the perspective of dealing with clients. One thing that bugs me (from the perspective of working inside a large organisation) is the fact that people continue to send me emails even though they have got my OOO message. I can sometimes return and find 10 or 20 messages from the same person.nnAs you suggest a gentle “if your message is urgent please contact me with a reminder after xxxx” is more appropriate than an ultimatum.

  • Anonymous

    What a thorough list! It’s so easy to forget one thing (or two) as you get ready to leave for a holiday. One benefit of doing this preparation is the opportunity to clean house. I just recently had this opportunity when I took some time off and found myself asking, “do I really need that and why?” A lot of things got recycled and thrown away. And it feels so good to have a tidy office when you return!nn

  • Anonymous

    Fred,nnHave you accessed your information from the Dropbox website?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, absolutely Elli

  • Hi Elli.nSuch a pleasant experience when we realise we have just rid ourselves, our home or our office of things we have been holding on to “just in case”. nnI have culled a lot of RSS feeds, spring cleaned many folders in my email account and cleaned up my social networking platforms also – all just because I was preparing for holiday. nnThe trick is to ensure it doesn’t become time wasting or nostalgic, or else nothing will get done!! Everything in moderation as they say 🙂

  • I will be out of communication from 1st June u0096 10th June 2011. I will replyrnto your email after my return.rn rnBest regards,rn rnMairu00e9ad KellyrnEncouraging ExcellencernRealising your Potential rn http://www.encouragingexcellence.iern(+353) 086 1702010rn rnLink to us on LinkedIn:rnrn us on Facebook: rn us on Twitter: rn

  • I will be out of communication from 1st June u0096 10th June 2011. I will replyrnto your email after my return.rn rnBest regards,rn rnMairu00e9ad KellyrnEncouraging ExcellencernRealising your Potential rn http://www.encouragingexcellence.iern(+353) 086 1702010rn rnLink to us on LinkedIn:rnrn us on Facebook: rn us on Twitter: rn

  • I will be out of communication from 1st June u0096 10th June 2011. I will replyrnto your email after my return.rn rnBest regards,rn rnMairu00e9ad KellyrnEncouraging ExcellencernRealising your Potential rn http://www.encouragingexcellence.iern(+353) 086 1702010rn rnLink to us on LinkedIn:rnrn us on Facebook: rn us on Twitter: rn

  • I will be out of communication from 1st June u0096 10th June 2011. I will replyrnto your email after my return.rn rnBest regards,rn rnMairu00e9ad KellyrnEncouraging ExcellencernRealising your Potential rn http://www.encouragingexcellence.iern(+353) 086 1702010rn rnLink to us on LinkedIn:rnrn us on Facebook: rn us on Twitter: rn

  • CliffordPowell

    Elaine i like your post so much. I feel very glad to know about the ways and information you shared about the travel holidays. The information is so insightful and impressive and i always keep the ways in my mine for my next travel trip. I will follow your blog in the future.nAirlines

  • Good, at least their trying some new initiatives. In England the government has been trying to get young adults who are unemployed (graduates etc.) into work by getting them unpaid internships etc. Having been unemployed myself for 3 years and knowing how ridiculously difficult it is to get a  job (even something like stacking shelves in a supermarket) I can only say they must be determined and keep looking. Which is not what a lot of 18 year olds are like, unfortunately.

  • All very fair points, Alex and thanks for your comment. Another area I think we need to work on with young people is to encourage and educate them around entrepreneurship, I’m not sure what it’s like in the UK but we’re failing badly here in relation. 

  • Conor Hughes

    Really interesting alright!  I’m amazed that our politicians have not come up with something like this before, or am I????

    Well done to all involved.

  • Thanks for the comment, Conor 🙂

  • Elitespecificconnections joe

    We at elite specific connections think you have a great idea,this is what is needed at the present time.Together we can REBUILD & GROW which is our motto,we are a new company,visit our website,we will be recruiting soon

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