Can’t We All Just Belong?

Posted by on June 27, 2016


We’re fortunate here at Marketwave that we are growing. Part of growing is hiring and part of hiring is interviewing. We placed ads in all the usual places and received a ton of resumes. Some are oddly not even close to qualified for the position, and some are way over-qualified. So it’s a time- consuming process of evaluation and scrutiny that we hope garners the person we need. But one thing a resume doesn’t tell me, which is possibly the most important thing, is whether someone will be a culture fit for us. We’ve known that in order to function at a high level, we need to have people that “fit.” We don’t believe everyone needs to be the same type of person in order to fit. But they need to share our values and be drawn to why we love doing what we do each day.

I just finished reading a book titled Tribe by Sebastian Junger. He is a reporter who covered the war in Afghanistan on the ground, and directed an award-winning film documentary Restrepo that was a first-hand account of a small group of soldiers tasked with protecting a strategic point on a hill during the war. It’s a grueling look into the interaction of a real team. These guys were depending on each other for their very lives. In marketing the stakes aren’t quite that high, but it’s still relevant to discuss and learn from the ultimate teams. The complete book title is Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. It’s the ‘belonging’ part of the book that stands out to me and applies to teams and culture across the board. Veterans coming home want to feel the same sense of belonging that they had in their military unit, and they find that nearly impossible.

In the book, Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, is the Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC, is quoted as saying, “If you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places where you are different – you underscore your shared humanity.”

In a business setting, we try to create that shared or unifying element that we can focus on as a team. At Marketwave, we have our Values: People First, Trust Factor, Service Mindset, Daily Intensity, Recognition Culture & Giving Back. These are not taken lightly; they are lived daily. As a leader here I can say that I make decisions through the values lens constantly. It’s part of our brand and it’s who we are.

So when we hire, we are looking for people that fit those values. People need to be able to perform their work at a high level to be considered for the open position (table stakes), but fitting into the culture and its values is the real price of admission. We believe we can train someone to be better at their resume skills, like design or writing. But it’s much harder to take someone who does not have the similar mindset of our culture and groom them to really believe and buy-in. It can be done, but if it’s too much of a stretch, the person that is not a fit, will not be comfortable and can potentially dilute the effectiveness of the entire team. By creating a strong consistent culture, you create the phenomenon of cultural pressure. Someone who doesn’t share the values feels the weight of the team’s expectations. Companies like Southwest Airlines, The Container Store and most on the Fortune’s Best Places to Work list have a very strong culture. If you don’t fit, and try to work at these places, you’ll likely be very uncomfortable. But if you fit, you will love it.

People – all people – want to belong to something. If you can find the person that feels the connection in your culture and meets the technical requirements of the open position, you win and so do they.

Having people around you that you have a connection with will increase everyone’s insights and productivity. That old adage about the sum of the parts being greater than the whole is now proven to scientifically be true.

The right team fit allows a person to find joy, satisfaction and belonging in their work. Having said that: We are hiring. ☺

Michael Young is a Vice President at Marketwave with 20+ years of global leadership experience. Feel free to email Mike at


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