Finlight - Why hiring for cultural fit doesn’t just apply to large corporates
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Why hiring for cultural fit doesn’t just apply to large corporates

JB Tanqueray

10 October, 2019


Today’s large corporate organisations are showcasing their culture as a key strategy to attract and retain the best talent in the market. After all, hiring for cultural fit essentially means hiring for attitude instead of simply for skill or experience. When it comes to family offices, cultural fit becomes even more crucial. This is a workplace where it’s more than just business, it’s personal; you’re recruiting into a team that is managing, growing and protecting family assets. It’s an environment where the people may be required to go above, beyond, below and beside what their job title suggests is within their remit. Finding the right people that fit with both the team and the family can be a challenge; getting it wrong can mean severe disruption at an operational and financial level, being forced to return to the recruitment drawing board unexpectedly.

Understand family values

Unique from setting the values of a corporate business, in a family office, you need to start with the family behind the office. Understanding their values and beliefs will help you build a family office that’s made up of people who share those same values and beliefs. The team will develop close working relationships with the family and all the complexities that families may come with. Ultimately, defining and aligning values at the hiring stage will mean the latest addition to the team will build and maintain meaningful relationships with the family and the wider team. Family values, and family office values will have a strong influence on culture.

Understand the existing culture

Before you can recruit a great cultural fit into the family office, you need to take some time to understand the existing culture. Organisational culture has become something of a corporate buzzword, but at its fundamental level, it’s describing the behaviours and expected practises of everyone within that organisation. Within a family office, it’s everything from the way the team and the family interact with one another, to reflecting their values, beliefs and ethos on a daily basis. Taking the time to establish what the existing culture is will help you define and articulate that culture accurately, and better define who you’re looking for from a deeper understanding than skillset and qualifications.

Check the culture aligns with future strategy

When you take the time to scrutinise the culture within the team, you might find that it doesn’t align with what you’d hoped for or with achieving long-term plans. If part of your people strategy is leadership succession from internal talent, but there’s no culture of self-development, or mentoring and coaching from current senior leaders, the strategy isn’t going to work. You either won’t attract the talent that has the drive and ambition to learn and progress, or they’ll leave to find the office that will provide them with that opportunity. If you want a developmental culture, and it isn’t there, you’ll need to think about making cultural and behavioural changes that will create and sustain it going forward. Recruiting isn’t always about cultural fit in terms of what’s there, but bringing in the right people to effect positive cultural change, as long as you have a clear understanding of your cultural goals. While cultural change isn’t easy, it is possible with the right people to drive it, and you can’t underestimate the impact that culture will have on future success. Just as when building a business strategy you begin with the end in mind, make sure you’re recruiting with the end in mind.

Reflect the culture in your hiring process

If your culture isn’t woven through every single thing you do, then it isn’t really your culture. It can’t be a box-ticking exercise or something you say because you feel that’s what the brightest and best people for the job will want to hear. Ensure the whole process – including the induction – is aligned with your culture and values. If you value efficiency, empathy and great communication, make sure your hiring process reflects this; not only in the way you and your representatives behave during the process, but in the way your interviews and any time the candidate spends with the team can establish if they share these values, too. In other words, just as you don’t want to waste your time with a culture-based hiring process centred around telling people what they want to hear, you don’t want candidates just telling you what you want to hear, either. The right process will ensure you find the person with both the right technical skills and, crucially, that all-important cultural fit.

With so many factors and considerations affecting a recruitment process, beginning with an assessment of the type of person that you want, that will complement the people and environment you already have, will help you to continue to build a sustainable family office that will power future family generations. Define and communicate your family office values and culture effectively during recruitment, and you’ll attract the right people. Live your culture and values, and you’ll keep them.

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