Culture Fit Trumps Productivity

Several years ago we were having a heated debate on our management team about a team member that was very productive but a poor corporate culture fit. Logically, everyone knew the person had to be let go. Practically, everyone kept going around in circles debating the short-term productivity hit and what that would mean to our startup.

I argued we should let the person go immediately. In the end, we spent six months debating it before finally letting the person go. Culture fit always trump productivity. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Do you look forward to seeing the person each day in the office?
  • How much productivity is lost by good corporate culture fits working with the non corporate culture fit?
  • What type of precedent does this set for future culture decisions?
  • What are the worst possible scenarios when this person is let go?

It’s never easy firing an employee. In fact, it’s the worst part of being an entrepreneur. With that said, it’s part of the job, especially when working hard to maintain a strong corporate culture. Culture fit trumps productivity.

What else? What are your thoughts on the idea that culture fit trumps productivity?

2 thoughts on “Culture Fit Trumps Productivity

  1. David,

    Agreed, good call. I once had a very savvy mentor who said his biggest mistakes had been firing people too slowly.

    I’m curious, and without betraying any privacy, what types of things had this person been doing that conflicted with your culture? Examples always help (me) appreciate appropriate scenarios.

    -Mike

  2. I was fortunate enough to work for Internet Security Systems back in the good days. As one of the first tech success stories in the Atlanta marketplace, I am honored to have been a part of that – and I’m confident to say that the success was heavily weighted in the culture. I’m not sure if the leadership created, or simply fit into the culture – either way, they fostered the company taking on a lift of it’s own, with quirky initiation rituals and beer drinking. I do wonder if I’ll ever get another shot at being a part of something so great!

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