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A topic that I frequently speak with executives and managers about is their work environment… and their ability to influence their company’s culture. Although the leaders at the top of the organization have an important role in molding and shaping it, a frequently overlooked source of impact on culture is everybody else at the company, besides the leaders.

It makes sense that employees at all levels have an impact on company culture, but we often don’t consider that potential impact when we are making hiring decisions. If it’s a consideration at all, we tend to think in terms of how a particular candidate might fit the existing culture, but not how the candidate might actually influence (or add to) the culture once they’re on board.

To help in this regard, think about questions such as:

  • What could a new employee bring to our culture that is new and interesting?
  • Where do we need help “living” our stated values better?
  • What skills are we currently lacking that would be helpful to add or bolster?
  • What new perspectives could help us see things differently?

Do you believe that one new employee can impact an entire company’s culture? How about five new employees? Or 50 new employees? Or, for large organizations, what about thousands of new employees? Depending on the size and makeup of your company, a few new employees could make a difference.

How much does a company culture impact new employees and how much can new employees impact the culture? It’s likely a combination of both. However, you certainly want employees that can impact the company culture in a positive way. Part of the potential for any impact is inherent in the new employees themselves – as a part of their DNA. Another consideration is the extent to which they are influence-able, or malleable… open to aligning themselves with the existing culture in areas where they might currently differ.

So, what are some traits that you desire in job candidates? I suggest that, regardless of your stated company culture and values, here are 5 qualities that you should look for in anyone you bring on board:

  1. Character – Does the person have a high level of self-awareness (a clear understanding of self)? Do they have integrity, a sense of right and wrong, and are they values-driven?
  2. Competence – Does the person already possess (or have the potential to obtain) the skills and abilities to perform the work at an above-average level? Do they have the knowledge, experience, education, etc., to perform the job that they need to perform?
  3. Capacity – Do they have the energy and bandwidth to handle the level of responsibility that you expect of them and that is required in their job? Do they have the ability to manage their priorities and time appropriately in order to focus on what’s most important to be successful?
  4. Chemistry – Can the individual engage with and get along with others? Do they understand and appreciate the value of accomplishing goals as part of a team, versus flying solo? Can they build rapport and solid working relationships with people who may have different styles and beliefs than they do?
  5. Course – Do they understand the company vision and have the destination in their sights? Are they motivated by the company’s mission so that they will be engaged and energized to help stay the course and help accomplish what’s most important?

There’s no guarantee that every new hire will be a rock star. However, if proper assessment is performed as part of the candidate vetting process, your chances of finding great fits, who can also impact the company culture in a positive way, will be greatly enhanced.