How To Do True Culture-Fit Hiring
All employers want to hire the candidate with the right technical skills, but they also want someone who’ll ‘fit in’. This is because gut instinct tells us that culture-appropriate workers will be better team players and more effective performers.
Science is beginning to back up this culture-fit theory with recent studies showing a high failure rate amongst new executives, with this being attributable mainly to a lack of culture fit, not a lack of skills. The research revealed that 40% of new executives leave or are fired within 18 months, but just 1 in 10 fail due to a lack of technical skills. Most fail due to lack of organisational culture fit: the wrong temperament, can’t accept feedback, not motivated enough, and can’t manage emotions.
Even though most companies include some form of culture-fit assessment in their selection process, many are not implementing it effectively.
Culture fit hiring is not just about hiring people we like
A study of the hiring practices of elite professional services firms showed that culture-fit was the most important selection factor. The study revealed that interviewers were hiring people in their own image, who they emotionally connected with. This self-centered approach is not true culture-fit hiring. Cultural fit hiring is not simply about hiring someone we like, it’s about hiring people aligned with the stated values of the organisation, (assuming these have been created). It is this approach that will build harmonised teams, working synergistically in pursuit of corporate goals.
The practice of Employee referrals hiring – where employees are incentivised to recommend friends to jobs in their company – has become very prominent thanks to the rise of social media. We don’t want to pour cold water on this approach, because it’s a great way to find quality talent fast.
But, if left unchecked, employee referrals based hiring could be undermining your organisational culture. This is because it is often a short-sighted rather than strategic form of cultural fit hiring where people tend to refer people they like, (or are like). Just a few of them may be diligently selecting candidates based on the values of the organisation as a whole, (assuming they even exist).
The process of hiring in one’s own image (or according to our own personality preferences) is instinctual and at the same time may actually be undermining organisational culture.
Culture-fit hiring in line with agreed company values
To be effective and constructive a culture-fit assessment of candidates must happen as part of a strategic value-based framework, and not in isolation. This starts with the organisation consciously developing a set of company values and behaviours which are carefully aligned with the business. If your business strategy of rapid expansion and digitisation requires an overarching entrepreneurial fervour in your culture, then your company values statement should reflect this.
Aligning the company values statement with employees requires interventions both at leadership and ground level. A glittering internal marketing and branding programme is an inspiring way to instill these values into your employees. But, it will need constant reinforcement, and the best way to do this is to incorporate it into your performance management and reward processes. Ideally, all staff should be evaluated on metrics pertaining to the company values, alongside technical metrics. Does your company want to see ‘courage’, then staff should be able to evidence behaviours that demonstrate courage in order to get a top review.
With a clear, strategically derived company values statement, your organisation is in a position to execute effective cultural-fit hiring. Managers and recruiters can now culturally assess candidates against the strategic values of the organisation, rather than their immediate personal preferences. This is a true cultural fit hiring. Safeguards should be in place to ensure that bad habits don’t re-emerge and this is best achieved using a policy of standardised, values-based structured interviewing. With all managers asking questions from the same ‘hymn sheet’ or so to speak, you will have begun to build a sustainable and healthy culture-fit hiring process that enriches and supports your organisation culture.
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