Imagine if a construction company started building a building without any plans from an architect? They simply started laying bricks with no idea of what they were building–how would that turn out? They would spend so much time wasted and spend endless amounts of money redoing and fixing issues. This is no different than a company hiring before they have defined their culture.

I am not saying that every detail of culture needs to be defined on day one, but you must have an idea of what the culture will be, on a high level, before you begin hiring. How else will you properly assess if the potential new hire fits the culture or clashes with it?

Culture is driven from the top down, plain and simple. The initial team, founders/leaders, are in charge of defining the culture. The easiest (and best) cultures come natural to everyone involved. If you are forced to change yourself to fit a culture you will never make it out alive.

At Leverege, we basically adopted the idea that the culture needs to be one in which we are ourselves day in and day out. We are not only responsible for defining the culture, but also practicing it on a daily basis. For us it means, creating a culture that we can simply be ourselves in makes that easy.

If we hired 5-10-15 people without an established culture how would we assess culture fit? Sadly, too many companies do this and the result is a dysfunctional team, low employee retention and a ton of lost time, money and productivity. Remember, hiring is expensive.

So the best thing you can do is know what kind of culture you want and hire for that–yes, certain elements of culture will change, it is always evolving, but there are certain overarching elements of culture that can be defined and should be established before you start bringing people into that culture. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is hiring a person into the wrong culture, not just for the company, but also for the individual. How do you expect to avoid that from happening if you have not defined your culture?

Keep it simple, start defining your culture from day one, always hire with culture first, as a top priority and adjust the culture as needed to benefit the team as a whole. As a leader of the company, you must live your culture every day and always understand that there is no one person worth sacrificing your culture for, ever.

Do you need help hiring for culture first? Download our free three-step guide here.