Kayla Ambrose
Kayla Ambrose

...more

Articles
10
Thu 22 February 2024
The success of a company depends not only on the technical skills of its employees but largely on the cultural dynamics within the firm. While traditional hiring methods prioritize skill fit and fitting into current company culture, fostering diversity of perspective can more effectively enhance the organization. Rather than solely looking for candidates who excel on a technical level or perfectly align with the company culture, hiring for “culture add” can be a much more effective method. “Culture adds” entails individuals who will positively contribute to the culture of the company and create positive enhancements. 

Moving Beyond Techincal Skills 

Technical skills are crucial for many roles, however, they are not the sole determinant of a successful employee. The ability to critically think, introduce new perspectives, and adapt to changing environments are vital characteristics for employees to possess. With this in mind, hiring managers must consider candidates' ability to contribute to and evolve the company culture, beyond simply accounting for technical proficiencies. 

Hiring mainly on the basis of technical skills can lead to employees feeling like an outsider within the organization. When a new hire doesn’t feel comfortable in an environment, they may have decreased productivity and even be motivated to find a different organization with a more suitable company culture. Overall, this can contribute to increased employee turnover rates and create lasting impacts on the company culture. 

Drawbacks of Hiring for Culture Fit 

While it may appear harmless to prioritize hiring candidates that best align with the company culture, commonly referred to as a ‘culture fit’, hiring individuals that are perceived as the best fit for the company can lead to discriminatory practices. When hiring a culture fit, this can encourage the hiring staff to consider candidates most similar to the current employees within the company. This creates opportunities for affinity bias, the tendency to favor people from similar backgrounds or with similar interests. If there is currently limited diversity within the company, this can perpetuate the limitation of diversity within the organization as they may appear to not ‘fit’ the current culture. 

This lack of diversity also applies to a lack of thought and perspective diversity. Hiring individuals who are similar to current employees may indicate that they have similar methods of approaching problems and similar critical thinking patterns. Overall, this will limit the progression of creativity and limit the problem-solving opportunities for the organization. 
Define culture add and the benefits 

Importance of Hiring for Culture Adds
As written above, hiring solely for technical skills and promoting culture fits aren’t ideal approaches for the hiring process. Seeking culture adds differs from culture fits because culture fits focuses primarily on hiring individuals who already fit in well with the current culture, while culture adds are individuals who can elicit positive change within the organization through the inclusion of diverse perspectives. Prioritizing attracting candidates with unique skill sets and experiences can serve as a beneficial addition to the creative problem-solving capabilities within the organization. 

Hiring for culture adds also adds an element of inclusion and belonging that is lacking with ‘culture fits’. Fostering a culture that supports diversity and ensures that employees feel welcomed is an important aspect of a culture add. Employees who feel valued and united around the shared values will be most likely to feel motivated and committed to the shared success of the organization. 


How to Hire for Culture Adds 
After establishing the importance of hiring culture adds, here are some implementation steps to adjust recruiting and hiring practices: 

  1. Determine your company culture 
Identifying candidates that most effectively add to the company culture is achieved through recognizing company culture. An easy way to categorize company culture is to consider existing company values and vision statements. Another method to determining company culture is to ask current employees about their perceptions of the company culture. To get the most accurate responses, consider organizing anonymous surveys to gather feedback. These identified company values can then serve as guiding principles to look for in potential candidates during the hiring process. Those who best align with the company values and vision will serve as beneficial additions to the broader goals of the organization. 

2. Convey company culture 
After determining company culture, conveying an accurate representation of the company’s culture will help to attract the ideal culture adds. Changing current marketing material or job descriptions to emphasize company values and the company culture. Including employee testimonials discussing their experiences within the company and highlighting existing employee resource groups allows prospective employees to learn more about the company and make a more informed decision on whether the culture is appealing to them. 

3. Allow applicants to see the company culture 
Conveying company culture can also be achieved by introducing applicants to the company culture in person or via virtual means. Offering virtual tours of the company or in-person events to interact with current employees can allow both the applicant and the hiring staff to gauge whether the applicant would positively contribute to the company. In-person events may include team bonding events, volunteering opportunities, or even team lunches to get a better understanding of the cultural dynamic. 

4. Consider Applicable Transferable Skills 
Prioritizing candidates with transferable skills and a growth mindset are important considerations when hiring for culture adds. While technical skills are important, if a candidate demonstrates adaptability and a willingness to learn, this can indicate they are a strong culture add and can grow in technical areas that need slight development. 


By implementing these strategies, demonstrating company culture to prospective candidates can be achieved more effectively. Ultimately, changing recruiting and hiring practices to focus on culture adds allows companies to hire employees who possess qualities that will promote the current culture and continue to make a lasting positive impact. It is important to recognize that changing hiring approaches to focus on promoting ‘culture adds’ takes time and consistent effort. Continue to gather feedback from candidates and employees to ensure that the company values and culture are accurately reflected throughout the hiring process. 

While technical skills are important when hiring new employees, recruiting ambitious candidates who possess strong critical thinking skills and will promote the values of the organization can be more valuable than solely technical proficiency. By cultivating a workplace culture that encourages growth and adaptability, organizations can achieve more sustainable future successes. 


Fri 9 February 2024
As a new hire, entering a new environment can be incredibly intimidating. Especially during the first few months, it is crucial for new hires to have sufficient resources to support them in their new role. A smoother transition to a new culture and new responsibilities can be achieved through effective mentorship. 

Why is mentorship important in the workplace?

Mentorship provides many benefits to the mentee, the mentor, and the organization as a whole. As a mentee, mentorship serves as an opportunity to gain insider knowledge of the culture and the internal processes of the organization. Assimilation to workplace culture can be a struggle for many mentees. Having a resource who has worked for the company longer to ask questions about the workplace environment can help ease some of the initial awkwardness. Mentors can also help mentees navigate the simple issues that a mentee faces such as feedback on a deliverable, or even larger scale situations such as what future opportunities to explore within the organization. A more experienced perspective on how to handle these issues both big and small can truly help ensure that new hires are set up for success. 

From a mentor perspective, mentorship is a great opportunity to make an impact and demonstrate leadership. Effectively communicating constructive feedback, improved time management, and opportunities for self-reflection can further provide professional development for mentors. This commitment to supporting others within the organization is a great demonstration of responsibility and may increase the chances of promotion consideration. 

Organizations benefit from mentorship as it can help to reduce unhappiness and turnover rates. 

Given all the benefits of mentorship, what is the best way to be a successful mentor? 

  1. Dedicating One-on-one Time Early On
If possible, set up an in-person coffee chat or lunch early on. An early opportunity to get to know each other and allow the mentee to ask any burning questions. During this conversation an important topic to discuss is what this mentorship relationship will look like. Frequency and means of communication as well as what can be done to set them up for success within the organization are great things to establish within the first meeting. 

2. Encouragement of curiosity 
Recognize that mentors are supposed to be a stress-free resource to help mentees. Create a safe space for asking questions that is free of judgement or harsh criticism. Mentees may pose questions that seem to have an obvious answer. Recall that everyone comes into an organization with different skill sets and experiences, and there may be gaps that a mentee needs additional guidance for. 

Early on after joining a new organization, employees may be interested in learning about other careers and future opportunities. Encourage the exploration of other career paths within the organization and share personal career path experiences. 

3. Sharing Personal Experience
Building a relationship with a mentee that has open communication can be difficult. Sharing personal stories and experiences can help to break the initial uncomfortability. Reflecting on areas of personal struggle during the early stages of joining the firm can identify different areas to provide insider tips/ information to ease initial difficulties for a mentee. Providing specific tips and feedback based on personal learning is the best way to both help a mentee and develop a stronger relationship. 

4. Facilitate Relationships with Seniors 
Developing relationships with senior members within an organization may be daunting to new employees. As a mentor, it is extremely important to help mentees communicate and develop relationships with senior or experienced employees. This can be a pivotal component of a mentee's future success within the organization as the networking may open opportunities for future positions that align with their interests. 

5. Hold Frequent Check-ins 
A successful practice for effective mentorship is frequent check-ins. Waiting for mentees to reach out may prove difficult as sometimes mentees may hesitate to reach out about their concerns. Periodically sending messages and regular meetings with mentees can ensure that there is ample opportunity for questions and the development of a relationship. 

6. Gather Ideas from Peers 
When mentoring a new employee, it can be helpful to gather insights from peers on mentorship tactics that were successful. Reaching out to colleagues or even previous personal mentors can be a great way to learn about mentorship. Another way to gather insights from peers is through joining a horizontal mentorship group to also experience the mentorship experience from a different perspective. Groups such as horizontal mentorship groups are great opportunities to learn from peers within the industry and to learn how to be a more effective leader. Within these groups, ideas can be shared and real-time feedback can be received. 

A key component of being a successful mentor is being a strong role model for mentees. Following correct practices within an organization, recognizing when other resources are necessary to help solve a problem, and an overall positive attitude go a long way in effective mentorship. Remember that this role requires commitment, so before volunteering to be a mentor consider the time required for the role and if it is manageable. Another consideration is that Mentorship doesn’t have an expiration date. A good mentor-mentee relationship can extend past the company-mandated timeline. Also, feel free to serve as a mentor to any new hire that asks for additional mentorship. Mentorship doesn’t require a formal written title in order to build a mentor relationship with new hires. 

A mentor’s goal is to provide assistance to new employees and guide their experience throughout the organization at an appropriate pace. Keep in mind that all mentorship relationships look different and developing strong mentor skills takes time and trial-and-error. Be patient and attentive to mentees, and there will be growth. 


Fri 12 January 2024
The success of an organization is heavily dependent on the collective performance of its teams. With these cross-functional collaboration dynamics, managers can encounter situations where the underperformance of teams outside of their direct oversight impacts their team's performance. Addressing and rectifying the underperformance of other teams may appear challenging due to the intricacies of organizational dynamics. Through embracing proactive strategies and creating a positive environment, managers can develop mutual support and elevate the organization's performance. 

Identify the Issue 
Determining that an inefficiency stems from the underperformance of another team may be easy, but it may prove difficult to identify the specific issue caused by this underperformance. Gathering data to specifically support observations can help to uncover the root of the issue. Data can be observational data or even the collection of performance metrics for the team/ projects. 

Gathering data can also be conducted through receiving feedback from direct reports. Their sentiments and experiences working in conjunction with the underperforming team may yield important insights that are not reflected in the data. Feedback can be gathered outside of the team as well. It is possible that other teams that collaborate with the underperforming team are experiencing similar issues and may have a different perspective on the situation. Consider gathering as much information as possible to develop a complete understanding of the current problem. 

Communicate with Team Leader 
After gathering information and identifying the issue, communicating with the other team leader is an imperative next step. As a manager of an outside team, no feedback should be given directly to individual team members; any concerns should be directed to the manager of that function. Set up a one-on-one meeting with the other manager and transparently communicate the situation. 

During this conversation, ensure that the productivity concerns are shared in an empathetic manner. Placing blame on the manager will not evoke a productive conversation as it will put them on the defensive. Clearly articulate the data that was collected to demonstrate how the underperformance is impacting the organization and other teams. 

It helps to practice this conversation ahead of time. Having a coach to help practice and guide the conversation can be incredibly helpful in the message sticking. 

This conversation is also an opportunity to collaborate on a mutually beneficial solution. Come prepared with potential resolutions that the other team manager could implement. Recognize that as an outside party, these solutions may not be feasible, so be conscious that the other manager may have a different perspective. 

Setting clear expectations is another key component of communicating underperformance. Articulate key metrics that should be improved and actionable steps the team will take to make these improvements. Implementing changes can take time, so collaborate on a feasible timeline so that these steps can be accomplished. Making numerous drastic changes in a short period could worsen the underperformance. 

Provide Resources 
Recognize that an underperforming team can be incredibly difficult for the other team leader to navigate. As a peer, providing additional support and resources can create a more efficient route to resolution. At the intersection of functions, there may be areas where both teams can improve their processes to streamline performances. 

With many team responsibilities, directly providing support to the other manager may be difficult. Sharing resources such as performance tracking software or external coaching can provide relief without personally assuming responsibility for providing constant support. 

Document Everything 
From the beginning stages of addressing the underperformance of teams, ensure that all information is documented. Specifically, when communicating with the team leader of the underperforming team, it is crucial to create a record. During the conversation, ensure that diligent notes are taken regarding the issue that is communicated, resolution steps, and future expectations. Following the conversation, share the meeting documentation with the other team leader to ensure both parties are on the same page and provide a reference for the future. 

Documentation serves as a record if further steps are required. If collaboration with the other team leader is difficult or the resolution steps are not adhered to, reaching out to upper management may be the next step. Providing this record of previous communication and acknowledged expectations will allow upper management to have a better understanding of the steps previously taken to resolve the issue. 

Reach Out to Upper Management 
The previous strategies are good methods to work towards a solution, however, complications while collaborating on a solution can arise. After valiant efforts to solve the issue don’t prove successful, consider reaching out to upper management. If both managers have exhausted all potential solutions, involving another member of leadership can help to provide a different perspective. 

Another instance that may require upper management involvement is if the other manager has extreme resistance to resolving the solution. Serious efforts should be made to collaborate with the other manager or even encourage them to independently consider strategies to increase performance. However, if they are unwilling to discuss the problem or refuse to make adjustments, involving management may be a more effective step. Using the extensive documentation of all the steps taken to resolve the issues, communicate what the problem is and potential solutions. Articulate that the other manager was contacted and share the records of attempts to resolve the issues with them before deferring to upper management. 

Monitor Progress 
Following the implementation of adjustments, monitor for improvements. Analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) for the underperforming team's responsibilities for improvement can help track the impact of the implemented solutions. Gathering feedback from both teams can also serve as a gauge of the effectiveness of the solution. 

Periodic check-ins with the other manager are another beneficial method for monitoring progress. Dedicating time to discuss the adjustments made and how it has affected both teams will help to make sure both teams are moving in a positive direction. Results from adjustments may not be observed immediately. After some time, if there is little improvement, consider finding an alternative solution. 

Support a Positive Environment 
When improvements occur, recognize and celebrate them. Continued positive reinforcement can motivate the team to sustain these improvements. Making changes can be difficult, so even the small success should be celebrated. Approaching the situation with understanding and a positive attitude will encourage everyone to truly help the team succeed. 

The ability to address and help resolve the underperformance of teams outside of one's oversight is a testament to effective leadership. Communicating, collaborating, and problem-solving can contribute tremendously to overall success. Proactively addressing team underperformance will not only elevate their success but also develop a culture focused on collaborative success. 


Thu 28 December 2023
Effective communication is a key component of successful leadership, and an important contributing factor to developing effective communication is word choice. Carefully chosen words when communicating can help to empower, motivate, and guide teams more effectively. While many managers recognize the importance of word choice, it can be difficult to identify areas of improvement. 

When communicating with a team or direct reports there are two main considerations: what to say and how to say it. While the message is incredibly important, how the message is communicated can directly affect how it is received and interpreted. Being conscious of how words can be used to properly communicate messages is an important skill for managers to develop. 

These are some strategies to consider when communicating with a team and direct reports: 

  1. Use Confident Verbs
Replacing words that undermine a leader's confidence is an important word choice consideration. Weak verbs should be substituted for more confident phrasing such as “we will”, “I know”, or “I believe” to convey reassurance and empowerment to a team. Dedicating time to developing more assertive language will help to improve team buy-in and can even contribute to improved self-confidence. 

A common way that managers compromise their confident word choice is through over-apologizing. While it is important for managers to be conscious of when they have made a mistake and to own their actions, over-apologizing can be a detrimental habit. Continuously apologizing for a mistake can present miscommunications and decrease credibility tremendously. Ultimately, over-apologizing spends unnecessary time and shifts managers away from their confident word choices. 

2. Be Concise 
Avoiding overly complex language and unnecessary jargon is a great practice for creating concise wording. Simplifying word choice can help ensure all team members understand and avoid confusion. Choosing specific words that are simple yet effective will also make communication more efficient. 

When developing more concise language, eliminating idioms and metaphors can also prove beneficial. If a team member doesn’t understand a figure of speech or is unfamiliar with it, the phrase can lose its meaning and cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Working to avoid such phrases can help ensure that everyone understands the message while eliminating unnecessary words that take up additional time. 

3. Take Time 
Devoting time to consider proper word choice is an underutilized practice. If an instance occurs that seems difficult to navigate and may not have a ‘right answer’, don’t feel pressured to respond right away. Stepping back and communicating that more time is needed before providing a firm answer can help to ensure ideas are communicated correctly. 

Taking time to carefully consider a response can be done with both written and verbal communication. While more commonly implemented for written communication, stepping back from a conversation can be used with verbal communication similarly. During the conversation, indicate that more time will be needed to properly consider the next steps and provide a specific timeline of when they can expect a response. Clearly articulating the future steps is necessary to ensure that both parties understand when the situation can be resolved. 

4. Specify Terms 
When communicating with a team, specificity is key to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Terms such as ‘commitment’ may be interpreted differently across a team. To one team member commitment to a project may mean staying over time until completion, others may interpret commitment as delaying other projects until further notice. Being specific about how the team should be committed to the project would provide more unified results. Similar terms such as punctuality can also have varying interpretations across a team (or even between a manager and an individual). Clarifying expectations and being conscious of these words can help to ensure everyone has the same understanding. 

Avoiding standardized responses to team members can also work to improve specific word choices. Rather than telling a team member “I will look over your work and get back to you”, more concrete language should be used “I will review your work and provide feedback by Wednesday”. Articulating more specifically what the team members can expect will help them to feel more valued. Using generic language will leave increased ambiguity for team members and create an uneasy environment. 

5. Positive Intent 
Articulating a positive intent when communicating with a team is vital to improve morale. Even during difficult times, shifting language to have a positive frame will motivate employees.

When developing more positive word choice while relaying constructive criticism, avoiding the negative construction of sentences should be implemented. Words such as just, try, and maybe are passive words that aren’t empowering to a team. Using phrases like “we will’ gives a much more positive energy. 

6. Inclusive and Respectful 
Specifcially when communicating within a team setting, leaders must be inclusive of everyone. Utilizing words that address the group as a whole will ensure that everyone is prioritized throughout the meeting. 

Avoiding unintended microaggressions is another key aspect of developing inclusive and respectful word choice. Addressing personal unconscious bias can work to consider how they may be present within word choice and help to take steps for more inclusive wording. Employee engagement and sense of belonging can be diminished when there is a lack of inclusivity and respect from their managers. By carefully considering word choice, managers can ensure everyone feels comfortable within the workplace. 

Identifying strategies for improving communication is incredibly important in making adjustments, however, it is equally important to develop a plan to ensure consistency and proper application. An effective way to improve word choice is to model communication off of executives who are well-known for their communication skills. Finding executives with styles of communication that are effective can give inspiration on how to handle difficult situations or even more day-to-day examples. 

A word choice reminder is another method that can be used to ensure consistency. Designating certain items such as a bracelet or ring as a word choice reminder can be a way to constantly form these beneficial habits. Even more directly writing a note or daily phone reminder to keep word choice in mind throughout the day can effectively make these adjustments. 
When considering these strategies it is important to develop tangible ways to 

Practicing the implementation of proper word choice strategies is one of the most effective ways to ensure improvement. Role-playing a scenario with a peer or coach can help to thoroughly consider the precise wording to use when tasked with communicating difficult messages to a team. During these practices, peers or coaches can help to provide feedback and continue to ensure effective communication. 

Managers who recognize the impact of word choice can positively contribute to the improvement of their work environment. By developing strategies and concrete improvement steps, managers can enhance their communication skills and build a stronger team. Remembering that the words managers choose can have a direct impact on the productivity of their team will guide the team to be more effective and cohesive. 


Fri 15 December 2023
Mergers and acquisitions present opportunities for companies to streamline their operations, develop economies of scale, create synergies, and establish various other growth opportunities. Despite all these beneficial changes a company may experience, mergers and acquisitions can be a stressor for employees as there are many uncertainties. 

Undergoing mergers and acquisitions can create structural and cultural changes for organizations, leaving employees unsure of what to anticipate. Organizational changes and redundancies within the workforces of both companies can lead employees to have serious concerns about their job security. 

Even minor changes that result from mergers and acquisitions such as cultural shifts, slight process adjustments, or changes in communication channels can enhance the anxious environment and threaten psychological safety. Recognizing the emotions arising from these changes is essential for a smooth transition and continued team success. 

Here are some ways to create a more people-focused approach to navigating a team through a merger or acquisition: 

  1. Develop a Communication Plan
When conveying the news of a merger or acquisition it is important to consider how to best articulate the intentions of the decision. Communicating the overarching vision, company beliefs, and future of the company that led to the decision can help employees better understand the motivations for undergoing such changes. Presenting an optimistic vision for the company will encourage employees to support the new direction of the company. 

Lack of communication or poor communication can lead to the spreading of misinformation and decreased employee engagement. To prevent issues from arising with employees drawing inaccurate conclusions about future steps, ensure that there is constant communication as the process evolves. Immediately when information is allowed to be shared with direct reports, communicate the information to demonstrate that all employees are valued and informed. 

2. Ensure Transparency
Simply communicating updates to the team isn’t sufficient during uncertain times. Honest and frequent updates are most suitable for ensuring all members of the team understand how the changes will personally impact them. 

When permissible, communicate as much detail as possible about the deal's implications. Although it may feel obligatory to reassure team members that everything will work out and they won’t be negatively affected, it is important to communicate the truth. If there is a risk that the team will be impacted by layoffs or structural changes, communicate that uncertainty and work with them to develop action plans. If the team does experience negative changes as a result of the deal, it is best to avoid a complete blindside. 

3. Positive culture 
Continuing to celebrate team successes can help to improve team morale and motivation. Amidst these big changes going on within the organization, recognizing the achievements of individuals or the team as a whole can help empower the team and reinforce a positive future outlook for the team. 

Connecting these celebrations to the core values of the merged company. Aligning the celebrations to organizational values reinforces their importance within the organization. Drawing these parallels will ultimately help reassure the team that their efforts are valued and key attributes of the entire organization. 

4. Involve and Empower Team
During times of uncertainty, it is crucial to allow direct reports to be involved wherever possible. Opportunities to share concerns, feedback, or other insights will allow employees to feel heard. Providing such opportunities will allow for a smoother transition to the new organization since adjustments can be made to best support the team. 

Team involvement develops a sense of ownership. During times of uncertainty, employees may begin to search for outside opportunities. Allowing employees to make an impact on the organization through their input and inclusion in the decision-making process, will increase their sense of commitment to the firm. 

5. Provide Resources
As a manager, providing ample resources for team members to navigate these changes is a necessary step. Mentorship initiatives, training programs, or external professional development opportunities can help employees prepare for potential future steps. 

Directing team members to consult with human resources or other applicable internal resources can serve as a good reminder of the readily available options they can contact. Continuing to identify various resources that can support team members will help ensure that they feel more in control of their future and can make more informed decisions. 

6. Lead by Example 
Increased stress is inevitable when transitioning through a merger or acquisition, however, employees look to their manager as an example of how to handle these unpredictable times. Remaining composed and adaptable will encourage the team to exemplify these characteristics as well, and embody the vision of the organization. 

Exemplifying other characteristics such as prioritization of work-life balance is another key way to guide a team to stay on track. During periods of change, ensuring all team members take care of their well-being and not overworking themselves can help to prevent additional stress. When direct reports see their manager balancing their personal life and their work obligations, they will feel more comfortable making balance one of their priorities which will ultimately lead to a more sustainable work environment. 

As a manager, it is important to continue to advocate for the team and take steps to support their best interests. During these periods of uncertainty, managers serve as a guide for their team to help them understand what is going on around them. 

Determining the best method to navigate these organizational changes can be incredibly difficult. Utilizing horizontal peer mentor groups can be a powerful tool to gain insight into how others in similar situations manage their teams. Within these groups, peers can share strategies they found to be successful and advice specific to the situation at hand. 

Remember that managing a team through large organizational changes such as mergers and acquisitions is specifically difficult for managers as they must balance personal stress resulting from the changing environment along with team concerns. Strategies on how to best lead a team depend on the team dynamics and the changes the organization is experiencing. Keep in mind that big changes are stressful and personal mental health should be prioritized. A sound-minded manager will be most suitable for leading a successful team through mergers and acquisitions. 


Privacy Policy