I’ve been talking quite a lot about culture and culture branding recently. I’m working on a book at the moment on the topic. Whenever I start the conversation I make a statement that always creates plenty of discussion: “There is no such thing as a bad culture.” This always leads to plenty of tales about bad companies, bad experiences, bad bosses and the like, all described as bad cultures. Toxic cultures. This is of course nonsense, The culture is toxic to you, but is it toxic to everyone?

My thinking is that there is no such thing as bad culture, only bad culture fit. For 12 years I worked for a company that was very much a command structure, with plenty of orders coming from above, and little room for discussion or deviation. If you know me now, then this will come as a bit of a surprise, but at the time I thrived in this culture.

There is no bad culture, only bad culture fit. It is the big recruiting challenge, and on the whole we are not very good at this. Culture fit starts with talent attraction, and reaching the people who fit. That means a concentration on honest culture branding, and sourcing to culture. Culture fit first, skills fit second. This begins with properly understanding what your culture is first, and making this visible to the world.

At the world cafe sessions at #ATCSM, I led a discussion on Glassdoor and other review sites, and their part in how you are perceived as an employer. Employer and culture review site Glassdoor are expanding rapidly across the globe, as a result of the take up of their Facebook app. To get access to the useful features on the site, users have to leave a basic review of their employer as a minimum. When you look at any review site, the people who take time to add reviews are usually those with extreme experiences, those who love or hate a brand. The real experience though is usually somewhere in the middle.What is inevitable going in to 2013 is that Glassdoor (and the like) are going to grow in terms of reviews and users. When we travel, we rarely book a hotel without first looking at TripAdvisor. When we buy anything on e-bay we place great stock on previous customers comments. Recruiting is not going to be any different. My view is that all companies should not leave reviews to chance and the extremes, but encourage all staff to complete a review on Glassdoor. The resistance to this is that the down side of the business culture is made public, but is that really a bad thing?

You can put the Glassdoor widget, and links, on all of your web and social places, to give outsiders an honest picture of your organisation. This means outsiders can decide if the pro’s outweigh the cons or not, and make the right informed choice about applying to join you. It is a good thing that plenty of people are going to choose not to apply because you don’t look right for them. That saves you accidentally hiring people who don’t fit. Give people the opportunity to choose, based on honest employee feedback, and not the marketing BS promoted by the digital mafia in organisations.

Bill