Culture Add: The Strategy That Will Bring Innovation to the Work of Your Tech Team

Cultural fit and cultural add are two terms being used frequently in the recruiting world over the last few years. However, there are some key distinctions that must be recognised by tech recruiters and business owners alike. While both are vital in the context of contemporary hiring procedure, one of them can present your company with more opportunity for growth, innovation, and diversity.

Cultural Fit VS Cultural Add: What’s the Difference?

Cultural Fit

Culture fit, is widely defined as a concept in which recruiters screen potential candidates to determine how they’d adapt to the company’s values and culture. There are many benefits that come out of recruiting for cultural fit, which you can read more about here. Hiring people that fit well into your company’s culture, while helpful in the formation of a strong team, can inevitably lead to bias. As the leader of a tech team, hiring the same kind of person repeatedly may put your company at risk by limiting the occurrence of new ideas, practices, and ways of working.

Cultural Add

Culture add, on the other hand, is when a company hires to add diversity to the team’s culture. This could mean recruiting employees with either different backgrounds, skills, or personalities. Hiring for culture add, therefore, is a process in which your company makes a conscious effort to recruit people that will introduce something new to the company, instead of aligning perfectly with the current team. 

Ultimately, hiring for culture fit can only bring you more of the same. If you want your tech team to expand into new areas, markets, or industries, you’ll have to open up to the idea of bringing in fresh outlooks, new ideas, and contrasting energies. In this article, we will show you how applying the cultural add concept can aid your hiring process when the time comes to start or expand your tech team.

How to Apply the ‘Culture Add’ Concept When Building Your Tech Team

1. Be aware of bias

Unfortunately, unconscious bias happens in hiring when the recruiter forms an opinion about the candidate based purely on first impressions. Oftentimes, the interviewer prefers one candidate over another, simply because the first one seems like someone they would get on well with. By relying on their own gut feeling, and their level of comfort or shared interests with a potential candidate, a promising interviewee who seems different from current staff may be overlooked because they just don’t “fit” in. 

This, in turn, could lead a business to miss out on the many positive attributes they could bring to the team. So, during your hiring process, it is important to be aware of unconscious bias. Try your best to set aside any personal biases, or biases of the company, before an interview, allowing yourself to be curious and open to change.

2. New Perspectives

Hiring for cultural add, could make more space for the introduction of new perspectives, with the potential of broadening horizons and increasing the potential of your tech team. When interviewing a candidate, we suggest paying attention both to how they align with your organization and company culture, but also to where they don’t align. A lot of their value and tech potential could be held in this unalignment, or indifference.

Consider, for instance, if your tech team’s environment allows members to question or discuss their tasks or the way they perform them. Hiring someone new who seems outspoken and outgoing could help to set a new example for current staff, pushing them to look further and deeper into their roles and positions in the company, and perhaps prompting them to expand their own skills and software knowledge. 

Think about it, if no one challenges the status quo, how can a company grow? So, as a tech business leader, why not risk it and hire someone that doesn’t meet the initial expectations? Who knows if that’ll lead to finding a new amazing employee, with a completely different mindset and the ability to bring disruptive innovation to your tech team. 

3. Diverse Backgrounds

The world is multicultural! If your current tech employees don’t seem to represent the framework of modern-day society, how do you expect your company to be able to operate and communicate effectively with people all around the world? The tech industry is global, fast-paced, and ahead of the curve. So you need to make sure that your tech business reflects that, both outwardly and inwardly. Introducing diversity into your team doesn’t just mean hiring someone from a different nationality. Diversity stretches much further than that, as it can mean hiring people of different genders or gender expressions, from other cultures and countries, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, or even sexual orientations. Get your team closer to contemporary society and you’ll see that it becomes a lot easier to understand the needs of your clients.

When hiring for culture add, we suggest starting with assessing your tech team as it stands, and weighing out which gaps may need to be filled with new hires. A candidate that comes from a different socioeconomic background might be able to help you understand more about the needs of clients that are in that same socioeconomic situation. Or, an employee from a different cultural background or geographical location could help you find ways to expand your team overseas and across different cultures. Sometimes, especially where culture is concerned, nothing can beat a little insider knowledge.

4. Inspiring Growth

Don’t just consider experience and skills. Consider personality. When building your tech team, you want to make sure that you create a workplace culture that runs smoothly and inspires growth. While many companies use assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to analyze the personality of a potential candidate, we suggest that you conduct the same assessments companywide beforehand, to see which personalities are most and least common in your tech team. By doing so, when carrying out the hiring process, you can actively look to fill in the personality gaps within your organization. 

Define the values that your tech company works by, and consider what might be lacking in your current workplace culture that could be remedied by a culture add hiring practice. You could compare the working standards of current employees to see which personalities work best in specific roles. Then, you’ll have a better idea of which potential candidates would perform best in the roles you are hiring for. If you believe your current team members, while efficient and effective at carrying out their tasks, seem to run off the same thinking style, or are majorly introverted, why not consider hiring someone who thinks differently or is extroverted? Hiring for culture add could bring new knowledge or problem-solving skills to the team, maybe even on a technical level, through different technologies that the candidate might’ve used in previous jobs.

Remember: a successful team is a varied one. The more opinions and professional backgrounds, the more stimulating the conversations, the richer the ideas, and the more innovative the strategies and solutions are.

5. Personalize Your Team

Lastly, hiring for culture add doesn’t mean recruiting candidates purely based on the diversity they can bring to the team. You have to be cautious and find the right person that works well for you and the company. The person you hire should still align with the tech company’s core values, show traits that are important to you and your business, and be able to get on with current employees despite their differences. Sometimes, it is okay to stick to cultural fit instead of cultural add, depending on what the company needs at the moment. Remember that hiring someone very different from the rest of the team elements will surely bring innovation in the long term, but in the short term, this will imply a bigger adaptation from the new hire and the team – make sure you’re available to support that adaptation.

So, while the above advice is applicable to all recruiters and CTOs looking to build a successful tech team with disruptive ideas and always ready to contribute to product innovation, it’s still important to adapt your hiring process to the specific needs of your company. For example, if you are hiring for a startup, you are looking for self-starters who can get things done efficiently, are quick learners, and are keen to contribute to the growth of the startup. But, if you are hiring for a larger company, the process should be more thorough and dependent on the specific role you’re hiring for. It is important to hire the right person for the role, who you are certain will be able to carry out the tasks required of them. But, it is also helpful to take into consideration the points above in order to grow your team in a healthy and all-encompassing way. Read more here about why hiring the right developers for your team is more important than hiring the best ones.

Culture Add: How to Apply It When Building Your Tech Team – Final Thoughts

Ultimately, culture add can mean hiring somebody that is not necessarily similar to everyone else on the tech team, but still demonstrates the similar core values that you are searching for. By applying this hiring method, you will open your company up to new perspectives, more opportunities for growth and expansion, and a broad, all-embracing workforce. 

Hiring for cultural add forces you to step out of your comfort zone, but don’t let that keep you from building a tech team that’s strong, smart, and more diverse. When your team reflects the progressive and forward-thinking mentality of the tech industry, there really will be no limit to what your tech company can achieve. 

If you’re looking to start or expand your tech team, look no further! Count with KWAN as your outsourcing partner and let us help you with your cultural add needs in a positive way that brings innovation to your team’s work. Get in touch with us, and access a wide network of potential tech talent that results from over 15 years of experience in the IT market.