The Madness of March Bears a New HR Term: “Cultural-Fit-ology”

Kathy Rapp Culture, Employment Branding and Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Retention, Sports

After reading my post about happiness at work even if you don’t work at Zappos, my friends at OpenView reached out and asked me to weigh-in on their “Cultural-Fit-ology March Madness” tournament.  Clearly, even if you don’t follow college hoops, you have to have heard of March Madness, so stay with me.

OpenView listed a “sweet sixteen” of top tech companies the likes of Apple, Google, HubSpot, Twitter, SEOmoz, Rackspace, etc. to determine who has the best tech culture of the bunch.  Joined by fellow FOT buddy William Tincup, I incorrectly predicted the final four but redeemed myself with the championship match.  But really, who would have thought HubSpot and SEOmoz would have pulled a Florida Gulf Coast on the likes of Google and Dropbox!!

What’s at the heart of this competition? Culture. And while we are constantly bombarded with images, sound-bites and colleagues talking smack about how awesome the culture is at Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Zappos – none of these players made it out of the sweet sixteen.  True, this wasn’t an overly scientific method of picking the best tech culture, but you would have thought by headcount alone the more branded names would have gone farther in the brackets.

Yet it was the 300+ and 100+ employee organizations that ended up in the finals.

I’ll admit I’d never even heard of SEOmoz and now I’m in awe of their TAGFEE code, even if I didn’t show much love for Roger.  Then there’s HubSpot, who I need to send a case of Shiner to for their beer fridge, whose business model and culture go hand-in-hand.  They too have a clear “Culture Code“.  By coincidence, I had downloaded some info from their site and got a sales call as the final match up was being announced.  I told the sales rep I rooting for them as they were in the finals…which was news to him.  He ended the call by saying thanks for the inside scoop and he was off to tell the rest of the team so the celebrations could begin (along with the voting).

Honestly, it was a test.  I wanted to see if an entry-level sales rep making a cold call would even know they were in this competition.  Not only did he know but he knew who they’d beat out and was SUPER jazzed about rallying everyone else.

You may think driving excitement/engagement/retention is easier at a smaller org; and perhaps it is.  Having worked in large and small companies I think it’s tougher to drive such culture in smaller organizations because the expectations from employees tend to be much higher.  Of course there will be transparency.  Of course there will be constant buy-in sought.  Of course there will be beer!!!

Cultural-Fit-ology.  Yeah… there are probably better mashed-up words but this word fits the essence of what this contest was all about.  The value-driven culture connection between a company, its employees and its customers.

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.