Values vs Beliefs and “Cultural Fit”

We know that a high performing team is a team that gets along well together and pushes each other to be the best they can be, in a supportive way. When creating that team, many ingredients need to come together and the best way to get them to gel into a team is by hiring people who are a cultural fit with your staff. Yep…I said it.  “Cultural Fit.” It is also well-documented that a high performing team is a diverse team with differing approaches to problem solving.  How on earth can we create a diverse team that is a cultural fit?  

This is a concept that many will say runs counter to a desire for diversity and inclusion…that searching for a cultural fit limits you to like-minded people while excluding people who don’t look, think or act like you. I disagree. Once we determine the potential new hire’s competence, I think the most important qualification when thinking of cultural fit is shared values.  A couple of weeks ago in the blog “Leading Gently,” I talked about the importance of aligning the corporate values and the values of the people who work there.  But what are values?  I’ll bet we all think we know, but if I were to ask you what the difference is between your values and your beliefs, odds are you’d be hard-pressed to tell me with any certainty. 

How do we articulate and align values when we have a hard time explaining what they are? Values are not correlated to demographics like race or gender, but if you are a mature person, they are always right — for you. Your values define you and are formed by your lifetime of experiences, your religion, and other environmental factors. They are the principles by which you determine if something is good or bad or important.   

In our profession, you are probably aware of many people who believe that providing effective O or P care to people who need it is a good thing to do, and an important thing to do.  You probably like many of those people, but there are some you may not like at all.  But you share a value. So sharing a value does not imply or require homogeneity.  

If you think of your values as the things you seek to achieve (excellent patient care), you can think of your beliefs as the paths you can choose to achieve that care.  As long as everyone on the team shares the common core value that we want to do the best we can for a patient, we can have a healthy discussion about the best way to achieve that outcome without hostility.  Having a common value can transcend race, ethnicity, orientation and all the other categorizations we like to create.  When it comes down to it, does a person have the competency to do the job that needs to be done and do they share common values with the rest of the team so that they can work together respectfully and effectively to achieve the best outcome? 

What are your corporate values? Can you articulate them? 

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