Hiring and Promoting with Tomorrow’s Culture in Mind

September 11, 2023

Embracing Change: The New Frontier of Talent Management

The landscape of work is undergoing a profound transformation, and with it, the very definition of a job is evolving rapidly. In North America, the gig economy is on the rise, poised to make up 30% of the workforce. Europe is following a similar trajectory, driven in part by the growth of online crowdsourcing platforms like Gigster, Guru.com, TaskRabbit, Toptal, and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Independence has become the desired way of life for millions of contract employees who seek opportunities that leverage human intelligence — tasks that our species excels at compared to computers.

The scope of these tasks can range from something as simple as transcribing an interview to something as innovative as teaching computers to learn. What’s fascinating is that individuals might unknowingly find themselves working alongside computers, redefining traditional concepts like collaboration, teamwork, and trust. The tried-and-true structures, processes, and tools that have served us well for the past century are beginning to falter. Hierarchies and a command-and-control mindset are increasingly at odds with the need for agility and adaptability. In this era of flux, strategy itself is proving to be an unreliable compass.

The Workforce of Tomorrow

Looking ahead a decade, it’s evident that the workforce will look dramatically different. Many of the jobs that companies will seek to fill in the future don’t even exist today. The efficacy of our investments in training and development also comes into question, given the rapid evolution of skills and knowledge required in emerging roles.

Amid this tumultuous environment, talent management emerges as the metaphorical quarterback of organisational success. The traditional practice of merely replacing a departing leader to maintain the status quo is no longer sufficient. External consulting support, primarily relying on flashy appearances, extensive networks, and marketing, is increasingly outdated. The focus on selection, while neglecting the crucial factor of culture, is akin to building a house on shifting sands. Additionally, executives who lack proficiency in the interview process are placing their organisations at risk with every hiring decision they make.

The Crucial Role of Talent Management

In this evolving landscape, few aspects are more critical to shaping tomorrow’s culture than the choices an organisation makes in hiring and promoting its talent. Straying from the right path in this regard can prove challenging to rectify.

Yet, the reality is that most leaders are often inundated with day-to-day demands, which can overshadow the importance of long-term thinking. To avoid a future that merely replays the past, it’s imperative that we create tomorrow’s culture today.

Redefining Talent Acquisition

In many organisations, talent acquisition has been akin to a beauty contest, where the most appealing candidate triumphs. While finding the best candidate is undoubtedly crucial, aligning culture with the right candidate is equally—if not more—important.

Six critical elements of fit stand out when considering talent acquisition and its role in building a sustainable culture:

  1. Attraction: Attracting individuals who not only possess the right skills but also resonate with the organisation’s mission and values is paramount. This alignment fosters a deeper sense of belonging and commitment.
  2. Culture: As the business landscape shifts, culture becomes increasingly vital. It’s no longer a mere buzzword but a fundamental factor that shapes an organisation’s identity and determines its ability to adapt to change.
  3. Performance: Ensuring that the hired talent can perform effectively within the organisation’s context is essential. This goes beyond technical skills to include adaptability, problem-solving, and resilience.
  4. Role-specific Leadership Competencies: Different roles require different leadership competencies. Identifying and nurturing these competencies within the talent pool is crucial for long-term success.
  5. Team Fit: The ability of a new hire to seamlessly integrate into existing teams can significantly impact collaboration and productivity. Team dynamics and compatibility are pivotal considerations.
  6. Integration: Successful onboarding and integration of new hires are vital for their long-term success within the organisation. Effective integration ensures that the newly acquired talent aligns with the organisation’s culture, understands their role, and can quickly contribute to the team’s goals.

The Culture Imperative

When it comes to hiring and promotions, culture should take centre stage. Who you bring into your organisation not only shapes its present but also defines what’s possible in the future. If your hiring and promotion practices lean towards replacement, you risk perpetuating the status quo. To break free from the past and navigate the evolving landscape, organisations must be proactive in determining the cultural fit of their talent.

The Importance of Measurement

In this era of change, measuring cultural fit and alignment with the organisation’s values becomes paramount. It’s not enough to rely on gut feelings or superficial impressions. Data-driven assessments and analytics should be leveraged to ensure that hiring decisions are in harmony with the desired culture.

Effective measurement involves assessing the alignment of candidates’ values, behaviours, and attitudes with the organisation’s culture. This can include structured interviews, behavioural assessments, and surveys to gauge cultural compatibility accurately. By utilising these tools, organisations can make more informed decisions that support the long-term vision of their culture.

Charting the Course for Future Success

As the world of work continues to transform, senior leaders must adopt a forward-thinking approach to talent management. Navigating the future of work requires a deep commitment to hiring and promoting individuals who not only possess the necessary skills but also align with the organisation’s culture and values.

Incorporating the six critical elements of fit — attraction, culture, performance, role-specific leadership competencies, team fit, and integration — into talent acquisition practices can help organisations thrive in an uncertain and evolving landscape. Moreover, leaders must recognise that culture is no longer a secondary consideration but a driving force behind an organisation’s success.

By embracing data-driven measurement and prioritising cultural fit in hiring and promotions, senior leaders can create a resilient and adaptive organisational culture that is not only equipped to thrive in the present but also prepared to shape the future of work. In doing so, they will set their organisations on a path towards sustained growth and relevance in an ever-changing world.


This article explores themes and concepts from content by John O. Burdett.

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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