Do You Hire/Promote With “Tomorrow’s” Culture in Mind?

January 27, 2023

by John O. Burdett

Who you hire determines what’s possible. Hiring that has a “replacement bias” is to become more of what you have always been.

Redefining the Way We Work

The world of work is changing. And the very definition of “a job” is, perhaps, changing most of all. In North America the gig economy makes up over 30% of the workforce. Europe is on a similar track. Fuelling part of that growth are online, crowdsourcing sites such as Gigster,, TaskRabbit, Toptal and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

“Independence” is the desired way of life for millions of contract employees. These online “job centres” offer work that requires human intelligence; work that our species can still do better than computers. It might involve something as simple as transcribing an interview or as innovative as teaching computers to learn. You could, literally, be working for a computer and not know it. If your partner is a computer you are redefining the meaning of terms like “collaboration,” “teamwork” and “trust.”

Structures, processes and tools honed over the last hundred years are starting to fail. Hierarchy and a command and control mindset are out of step with the need for agility. Strategy is an unreliable compass. A decade from now the workforce will look very different. In that, literally, many of the jobs that companies will seek to fill a decade from now don’t currently exist, even our investment in training and development is open to question.

Who and How We Hire

Into this maelstrom rides talent management. The metaphorical quarterback of talent management … who and how we hire. Simply replacing a leader who leaves is to reinforce the status quo. External consulting support drawing largely on an expensive address, a nice suit, great marketing and a thick rolodex belongs in the past.

A reliance on selection that ignores culture is to build a house on sand. And an executive who lacks mastery in the interview puts the business at risk every time they make a hire decision.16 Little is more important to tomorrow’s culture than who the organisation hires and promotes. Go astray and there is no easy fix.

Most leaders arrive at work to a full diary. The day-to-day and the immediate have a habit of overwhelming a long-term view. And yet, unless we create tomorrow today, the future will, inevitably, be little more than a replay of what has been. Count on it!

When talent acquisition is a beauty contest – as it is in many organisations – the best candidate wins. It’s easy to find the best candidate. Getting culture on the right track means identifying the right candidate.17 Not every now and then … but every time.

Six Critical Elements of Fit

Talent acquisition is about managing risk. Risk, in turn, is about fit. There are six critical elements of fit:

  1. Attraction;
  2. Culture;
  3. Performance;
  4. Role-specific, leadership competencies;
  5. Team fit; and
  6. Integration.

All six elements of fit are essential but as disruption, uncertainty and new technology impact how business does business … culture is destined to become evermore important. Moreover, the more senior the role, the more vital culture becomes.

Culture Imperative: Who you hire determines what’s possible. Hiring that has a “replacement bias” is to become more of what you have always been. In determining fit, measurement matters. Especially when it comes to culture and team. Consider a move to what Charles Handy called the “Shamrock organisation:” 1/3 permanent, 1/3 contract and 1/3 temporary. Money might attract talent but if you want to keep high performers give them a job that they love.

This article is an extract from “The 7 Questions Every CEO Should Ask About Culture“, © Orxestra® Inc.

John O. Burdett is founder of Orxestra® Inc. He has extensive international experience as a senior executive. As a consultant he has worked in more than 40 countries for organisations that are household names. John has worked on organisation culture for some of the world's largest organisations. His ongoing partnership with TRANSEARCH International means that his thought leading intellectual property, in any one year, supports talent management in many hundreds of organisations around the world. Get in touch with John O. Burdett »

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