It’s not the isolated case of Rami Malek playing Freddie Mercury (waltzing his way to the Oscars), Hollywood generally has a reputation for excellent casting choices. The mannerisms, the natural-appeal of the actor, all adds up to craft the perfect image on screen. While here at home ground, Bollywood has taken to some very brilliant casting choices (Think Nawazzudin Siddiqui in Thakkery), plenty still mire in controversy. Battling labels of inauthentic casting choice to the character- be it Aishwarya Rai playing Dalbir Kaur in Sarabjit or Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom.
But why talk of movies and casting?
Because this brings us to the protagonists cast by management: the hired field-force who constitute the true ambassadors of the brand. A marketing professor would tell you- all brands have a personality. The ambassadors go on to reflect the same brand personality in tangible and intangible ways. This is the good casting in a movie.
A reflection of what the role is supposed to be, an embodiment of the brand. Like a great actor in a terribly cast role, great performers can end up faring poorly in roles that aren’t cast right.
The ‘cast right here’ refers to the Culture of the Corporate. Apart from being homogeneous in their appeal of being concurrent to the brand they represent, they must also code in with the culture of the organization. Just like makeup is not enough for creating the true appeal of the character and there are inherent mannerisms that bring the role to life, similarly it is not just the fit with the brand ethos but also with the organizational ethos.
A Brand’s story is tricky. Divisions sit in crowded head offices painstakingly painting the organisation’s story. Each trope of the corporate culture could be nestled in a story that no one remembers, championed by a seasoned manager that no longer works there, but embedded in how every last detail is executed. And because it is tough to write down this story, it is even harder to share it.
Let’s complicate it even further, unlike a brand personality which stays more or less stable across years (think Coca-Cola & Christmas) a corporate identity is prone to a more dynamic nature. Each person adding on to the corporate identity is adding to this code and inherently making it harder to evaluate a cultural fit.
Adrian Furnham in his book The Psychology of Behaviour at Work plainly puts this cultural fit as: A fit is where there is congruence between the norms and values of the organization and those of the person.
It is complicated to quantify norms and values let alone measuring them.
Having been guilty of hiring resources based upon their prior proven performances (quite like picking movie stars who roped in audiences into the theatre) with a relatively lower dependence on cultural fit (like casting directors who help movies turn into art) it is only after having burnt fingers does the true challenge come across; that of understanding, immersing and codifying an organization’s culture and then using that framework to bring people who aren’t just going to do a great job, but also fit in snug with the organizational culture.
After all, a great movie is made not just from stellar actors, but with a subtle nod to the inspiration.
Image Credit: variety.com
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