Why Cultural Fit Is Crucial When Choosing an Agency
When you’re in the market for an agency, it’s natural to focus on things like expertise, price, and the size of the agency. But there's an often-overlooked aspect that's just as important, if not more so: cultural fit.
Think of it this way: Would you hire an employee based solely on their resume, without considering how well they mesh with your company culture? Probably not. Similarly, when selecting an agency, you should treat the process as if you’re hiring a new team member. Because, at the end of the day, that's what they are – an extension of your team.
Would you hire an employee based solely on their resume, without considering how well they mesh with your company culture?
What is a Cultural Fit?
Culture is your company’s DNA. It’s what makes you, you. This includes your company's purpose, why you exist, and your big hairy audacious goal – the long-term impact you want to make on the world, a concept Jim Collins nailed. Then there are your cultural values, the bedrock principles that shape your decisions and define your behavior as an organization.
So, what is cultural fit? Simply put, it's the likelihood that someone (or in this case, an agency) will reflect and be able to adapt to your organization's core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
Simply put, it's the likelihood that someone (or in this case, an agency) will reflect and be able to adapt to your organization's core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
Why Cultural Fit Is a Force Multiplier
A positive cultural fit can significantly enhance the efficiency and output of your agency partnership, acting as a force multiplier. In contrast, a misalignment in culture can result in suboptimal outcomes, with potentially only a fraction of the agency's work adding real value to your business.
Finding an agency whose values and beliefs align perfectly with your own doesn't have to be a matter of luck. By being intentional and asking the right questions, you can increase your chances of finding an agency that truly gets you. Think of your agency as an extension of your team - the people you bring on board, whether internal or external, are among the most crucial decisions you can make. They can generate true leverage helping you achieve your objectives.
When considering cultural fit, it's crucial to prioritize alignment above all else. The principle of "direction over speed" underscores the significance of moving in the right direction, regardless of the pace. When you partner with an agency that shares your cultural values and beliefs, you ensure you're both on the same path, establishing a robust foundation for long-term success. Conversely, a misalignment can veer you off course, irrespective of the agency's speed or technical proficiency.
The principle of "direction over speed" underscores the significance of moving in the right direction, regardless of the pace.
Cultural Fit Questions to Ask Your Agency
Here are some cultural fit questions to consider when interviewing an agency:
- What is your purpose and reason for existing?
- What is your company's ambitious long-term strategic objective that is inspiring and often seems impossible to achieve at first glance?
- What are your company's values? How do you use them to make decisions?
- What traits do organizations with which you have the best alignment and success share?
Similarly, be prepared to answer similar questions from the agency. A good agency will be just as interested in ensuring a cultural fit as you are.
The Cost of a Wrong Fit Agency
When hiring an agency, think of it as adding a new member to your team. The cost of a wrong fit can be astronomical. As the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes, the result of poor culture fit due to turnover can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary. And that’s not even taking into account the lost time – a precious resource you’ll never get back.
The result of poor culture fit due to turnover can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary.
In summary, landing an agency that aligns with your cultural values, historical experience, and skill set is like hitting the jackpot. Don't leave it up to luck. By asking the right questions about cultural fit, you ensure that you're creating true leverage for your business, harnessing the full potential of your agency partnership.