17 Comments

  1. The hard part is figuring out how a person contributes to a culture before committing them as a hire. Everyone is on her best behavior in the interview … I guess social media and digital footprints help but still, I feel like teams sit on giant seesaws and additions and subtractions can shift the balance so significantly. The culture you are going for may not be the culture you get depending on the amount of influence of each team member…and the amount of baggage (positive or negative) that everyone arrives with. Maybe an additional and significant variable is the actual communication of the culture – how mistakes and accolades are discussed, analyzed, and criticized for the betterment of the team. People trump culture because people make culture. But excellent people who can’t communicate results in dysfunction.

    • Jeff See

      “Maybe an additional and significant variable is the actual communication of the culture – how mistakes and accolades are discussed, analyzed, and criticized for the betterment of the team.”
      This is true, but maybe this is why interview processes need to change. I want to hire for where we are headed, and I want to see reflection in an interview, not merely chirping back acronyms.

  2. Jeremy Inscho

    I’ve seen that quite a number of times lately that goes something along the lines of, “No one person is responsible for creating or maintaining a culture.” While that’s true in most cases, one person can sure have a significant impact on it for better or worse. Conversely, culture can signify impact any one person within an organization, also for better or worse. You’ve articulated those important points here. Thanks, George.

  3. JoEtta Gonzales

    Sometimes, the person hired that rejuvenates your career is the same person that destroys the stagnation of others’. This change in culture might be seen as welcome to most, but highly disruptive and disengaging for the few that struggle with letting go of the past. You have to listen well and pay close attention if you’re the one disrupting the status quo.

  4. Faige Meller

    When a “hiree” comes in and is set to change the culture to their way of thinking, the damage reverberates and can be demoralizing. Not sure why this is not thoroughly thought through. Good post, George. I’ve thought about this so often and more so now as a retiree who continues to sub in the school that “raised” me as a teacher.

    • Jeff See

      Faige, I like this thinking. I’m with Peter DeWitt here, if I come in as a new hiree/leader, and am unwilling to have my mind changed or have a fixed mindset regarding my way of thinking, I could become toxic. I know where I’d like us to get, but how we get there depends on the people on the bus at that moment.

  5. Gillian Fuqua

    I read your post just after reading today’s email from Gaping Void which was all about hiring for your culture. It closes with “Culture is human. Nothing more, nothing less.” It’s so true. Culture also comes from small actions too, it’s about people saying good morning to each other, people cursing at the copier together, and about two people saying, “I love that kid.” in unison.
    As always, I enjoyed your post. Thanks for another year of sharing your thoughts and ideas. My world is a more thoughtful place with you in it.

  6. EDupuis

    I believe the book you are referring to is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni. Cheers.

  7. Sue Butler

    I just finished reading a book on this and was mulling over the following when your blog appeared:
    “It’s important to understand that influencers are always influencing – theirs isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Influencers live for opportunities to share stories with others. Some share stories that align with your plans for moving the culture forward; others tell stories of maintaining the status quo. It’s up to you to determine which group wins” (School Culture Rewired, S. Gruenert & T. Whitaker). #BetterTogether

  8. Karen Kraeger

    Excellent post! Really resonated with me. I’ve been on both sides of that situation, and it’s not always clear when you’re in the midst of it. Sometimes you’re exactly what the school culture needs, other times you’re a better fit elsewhere. The hard part is not taking it personally, and being open to opportunities that could me your way- expected or not.

  9. Paolo De Buono

    A leader would not hire staff to “sustain” the culture she/he built, but (understanding that it is people who shape culture) would hire those who would allow that culture to continue to be shaped progressively and responsibly. If I were to look for new members of an educational team, I would (as you wrote) look not necessarily for how the person fits into the specific need (which is important) but how that person fits into the culture, given the importance of culture and the fact that the needs will continue to change. The 21C skills we talk about in students (communication, critical thinking, creativity, and especially collaboration) and a growth mindset are the skills I would be looking for most in educators.

    • Gary P.

      What you wrote makes the most sense to me (considering what I read previously). The culture that the the adults create should be the culture that the students should emulate, and if it is the wrong culture (doesn’t result in learning and growth of the students) then you should look to make changes that are
      focused on the adults (possibly, from the top down).

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