Jim McComb

In June 2011, Jim McComb died on a hospital operating table during emergency surgery and was shown his Personal Destiny during a visit to Heaven. He was also shown how to lead others to discover and fulfill their own Personal Destinies. Revived, he returned to Life with a clear sense of purpose and a mission to share what he learned with as many people as possible. Jim wrote Undiscovered Horizons in the months following his recovery from the surgery, and it will be published in the summer of 2012.

In addition to writing Undiscovered Horizons, Jim shares his experience and his message in keynote speeches at conferences, colleges, churches and corporate events across the country. He also leads workshops, taking participants step-by-step through the process of identifying their own Personal Destinies and providing planning tools to help them chart a course for fulfilling those Destinies. Jim also makes himself available to coach those who want one-on-one guidance through the process.

Professionally, Jim McComb retired in 2011 as a senior vice president of a Fortune 100 company, following a 38-year career in marketing, finance, strategic planning and management consulting. For 25 of those years, he was among America’s foremost strategic planners, earning certification as a Strategic Management Professional, serving as national president of the Association for Strategic Planning and being inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2009. He is an expert in Next Practices and developed the seven-step process used by the Executive Next Practices Institute in Los Angeles.

Thomas K. Walter

TOM WALTER, serial entrepreneur, is a nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership and business culture. He has been an owner/operator in the food and beverage service industry for over forty years and a partner, principal, president or CEO of twenty-nine start-ups, three of which were acquisitions. Currently, Tom serves on the advisory boards of five Chicago-area companies and two universities. In addition he is an active member of the Academy of Management and the Small Giants Community. Tom is a member of the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

How to Screen a Company for a Good Culture Fit By Thomas J. Walter & Molly Meyer

Perhaps you’ve heard about this phenomenon via television shows or movies. Maybe you’ve read about it in books and articles. Maybe your friends or family members have boasted experiencing it, but you’re still not convinced it’s real. How does it feel to truly love the place you work, and does your workplace truly love you? Is a loving relationship between you even possible?

To answer these questions, there is one terrifically central concept that you and your organization must adapt if you are ever to enter a mutually-loving relationship: a good culture fit. This lies at the very center of your happiness together, regardless of job titles, job descriptions, desk space, office views and all the other “hearts and flowers” that come with being in a relationship with your organization.

The question remains: how can you screen a company for a good culture fit? Perhaps more importantly, how can you do this before getting in too deep and risking heartbreak?

Why Do You Need to Screen for Culture? Shouldn’t it be obvious if the two of you aren’t meant for each other? No immoral, unethical organization hides that easily under a drape of warm, fuzzy advertisements and happy people. Maybe it’s not quite that extreme, but there are organizations that are hanging in limbo. They haven’t quite figured out what’s most important to them, or they haven’t shared it with everyone in the organization. There’s doubt, uncertainty. Anyone that’s ever been in a relationship knows that including those ingredients will spoil even the most ravishing of appetites.

Then there are those organizations that have made up their minds. They know what they want, and they know what is important to them. But, despite all of the good aspects of the job, you can’t seem to launch yourself fully with the company’s vision. Wouldn’t you rather know now that you won’t be truly happy, rather than waiting around, hopelessly dreaming of the day when your company changes its philosophy?

A Good Culture Fit is a Must All of the above leads to unfulfilled potential, lack of focus, boredom and discontent—none of which are loving relationship material. According to the Gallup organization—which pioneered the Gallup 12 Poll to measure employee engagement—employee engagement stems from the manner in which an organization conducts its business. This statement focuses on how a company conducts business on a day-to-day level between co-workers, superiors, leadership teams, departments, vendors, clients, potential clients, partners and so on. All of these are the very components of culture.

Additionally, discretionary thinking is a large part of any relationship. Are you 100 percent focused on your organization? Are you thinking about it when you’re not at work?

Discretionary thinking is what you do when you actively pursue a thought—spending it on exactly what you want to think about—at your discretion. What happens when you actively want to think about your organization, or your organization’s goals and your goals?

Of the total thoughts an individual has in one day—60,000, according to the Institute for Human Health and Human Potential—the average person spends 8%–or 4,800 thoughts—on work-related tasks. If you throw discretionary thoughts into the work-thought mix, you can easily double that number. Think about the collected effect of an entire workforce doubling their work thoughts each and every day. How much more successful will that organization be? It sounds like a place that cultivates a great culture. In fact, it sounds like these employees would love their jobs.

To prevent these realizations that you spent your “good years” playing house with an organization with which you can’t picture yourself growing old, you should start from the very beginning—before even going on a first date—by giving the company a sound culture fit screening.

The Screening Process Screening for culture fit isn’t as daunting as it may sound. In fact, several experts in this field have conducted studies, creating several tools and exercises that you can use.

1. Study the company’s website(s) and find out everything that is important to it. Does it prominently list its core values? If it has core values listed on its website, match those with your own core values. If there is a disconnect here, well, there’s no getting around these fundamental pieces of both the organization’s and your personal foundation. If your values differ, then it’s probably for the best that you bow out of this dating game and move on.

2. If core values are absent in an organization, ask yourself: will this cause me stress and anxiety? The answer, almost always is yes. If the organization doesn’t know what drives its decision making, how can it help lead you or cultivate leadership skills in employees? How can the two of you grow together? Lack of direction and values leads to an increase in stress level and unhappiness—major break-up material.

3. If a company does have core values that match your own, are those values visible to everyone in the workforce? If they are—hanging on the wall, displayed as the background on computer screens, thumbtacked up in cubicles—then the workforce is in alignment, too. Sometimes, organizations may have great core values, but how effective can those values be in leading decisions and actions throughout the company if there is no incentive to act upon them? The answer is, unfortunately, not very.

Screening for culture fit should be the foundation of any job hunt or decision to stay with a certain organization. If both the company’s culture and core values do not line up with yours, there is little hope that the two of you will grow old and gray together. You might experience a brief infatuation—with the hefty paycheck, the extra paid week’s vacation, the corner office with a view—but those are just distractions from the truth. The truth is that without a good culture fit, it’s extremely difficult to love your company.

Tom Walter is a serial entrepreneur and nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership and business culture. Molly Meyer is marketing professional and independent writer. They are the co-authors of It’s My Company Too! How Entangled Companies Move Beyond Employee Engagement For Remarkable Results. For more information, please visit, www.ItsMyCompanyToo.com.

Jeff Garr

Jeff Garr is the CEO and a founding partner of HR Knowledge of Mansfield, MA, a company that delivers comprehensive Human Resource services to small and mid-sized businesses throughout the U.S. Jeff holds a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and his expertise has been honed from more than two decades in Sales, Management and HR in the distribution, manufacturing and business to business sectors. He has won countless sales awards and led dozens of seminars and training sessions over the years. Jeff launched his first HR outsourcing company, HR Logic, in 1998, which was a Fidelity Investments Company. He went on to found AdminaService in 2001 and subsequently partnered with Ken Bettenhauser of HR Knowledge in 2003. Today, Jeff, his partners and a growing staff proudly serve an extensive client list that includes emerging and established companies, as well as more than 60 Charter and Independent schools across the nation.

Ann Tardy

Ann Tardy is the author of “LifeMoxie! Ambition on a Mission – 9 Strategies for Taking Life by the Horns” (published in 2007), and also, Moxie for Managers – The Secret to Evolving from Manager to Leader (published 2011).

From Silicon Valley corporate attorney to award-winning advocate for middle managers, mentoring expert, and adventurer, Ann never met a dull moment or a person who wasn’t dying to make a difference. Ann is known to have a unique skill for combining the art of management with the science of behavioral economics to interpret the stories we tell ourselves. In the process, Ann is constantly revealing how we are each hardwired to hold ourselves back. And in the end, Ann strives to help to create a new emotional context to prepare people to execute in ever-changing environments.

At LifeMoxie, Ann has worked with some of the best and the brightest consultants in the business of change. Ann is considered one of the top thought-leaders on transforming middle management. Committed to business as “unusual,” Ann is known for helping visionary organizations unleash moxie where they need it most – in the middle.

In Summer 2011, Ann circumvented her own hardwiring to cycle over 4,200 miles from San Francisco to New Jersey in The Moxie Ride, a cross-country bicycle ride she created to research and document what people love about their jobs and their managers. The documentary was released November 2011. During the Summer of 2012, Ann cycled again from Key West FL to Bar Harbor ME.