5 Values to Help You Determine Right Fit When Hiring

Identifying Right Cultural Fit
Start by defining your company culture, and then what the potential new hire will look like.

If you want to determine whether a potential new hire will fit your company culture, you should start by defining your company culture and then the potential hire.

Today has been a pretty typical day for me. Earlier this morning I met a client who told me he could tell if a candidate was a cultural fit within minutes of meeting. He said the potential hire needed to be well presented, articulate, intelligent and assertive. Is that it I wondered?

I had a flashback from over 30 years ago when I got one of my first jobs in recruiting. The owner gave me and his clients ‘wise advice’ by telling us that all his people meet the same A-grade standard. Over time, I realized it was b___s___. What in fact is A-grade standard, a cut of beef?

It cost me about a decade to unlearn these powerful imprints at a young age. I realized one’s appearance, one’s articulation and how well they can articulate ideas all had nothing to do with fitting a company’s cultural. These personal traits are more directly connected with social skills, the ability to take centre stage, and often used to manipulate others. They create first impressions certainly, but these qualities are not characteristics to hire by – assessing right soft skills like team collaboration, emotional maturity, personal accountability, and alignment of values are what make or break any potentially great hire.

To understand yours or any other company’s culture, you need deep insight into why someone succeeds in that company. And you need to also keep in mind that company cultures can shift overnight. CEOs change, competitors drown revenues, people quit …

1. Managerial Values

As I’ve said many times people don’t leave companies, they leave their managers. One of the biggest reasons why talented people don’t perform is because they feel that their direct manager makes their work-life miserable. And quite often that is the full extent of their reason for leaving. Except in cases where there is outright abuse and disrespectful behaviour, not getting along or having differing values, doesn’t make one good and the other bad. It just means not a right fit.

Cultural fit relates to how employees need to be managed, supported and encouraged. Many human resource and company CEO’s miss this one out completely when choosing managers.

2. CEO Values

This is the time to also look at the founder, boss, CEO, or whoever the top dog is with the final decision-making authority. What are the values that were at play when the built the company? What has changed in the marketplace since then? Are those values being reinforced from the top down? How is this influencing the company’s ability to hire right fit?

3. Company Operations & Pace Values

Different companies run at different paces. Start-ups and advertising companies run at atomic speeds while, in contrast, more traditionally established industries like banks or accounting firms, shuffle. These companies can change during their life-cycle as well. There aren’t too many people who are comfortable in both speeds of operation. Some like the slow and steady. Others like the pace and change.

How do you find this out? Knowing what someone’s values are will help you to know your prospective hire’s pace – whether they are someone who processes information and subsequently likes to work at fast (sales and entrepreneurial types) or slow (accounting and engineering). There are only for essential values blueprints but any number of combinations of those. The key is to know what quadrant your dominant values lie in.

4. Decision Making Values

Different sized companies have very different decision-making processes. I’ve met business executives proud of the fact that they have reduced the cost of hire by 7% this year but have overlooked the fallout cost of bad hires. They know their attrition rate, but do they know what the long term impression those bad hires have on morale, productivity, community and customer relations?

On the other hand, I’ve also worked with upper management that consider the whole workforce when determining the company’s strategic decisions. The way a company, or rather, the way managers, collaboratively or otherwise, are empowered to make decisions defines a very large portion of that company’s culture. Knowing the values of the hiring manager and the potential new hire is critical when determining right fit.

5. Job Fit Values 

If someone does not like their job or they are unmotivated, again it is probably because their values are out of alignment with the company, their manager, or both. Values are an integral part of assessing overall cultural fit.  Lots more to be said on that topic in future articles.

Attributes around personality, appearance and presentation cannot be used exclusively to define whether a candidate’s cultural fit.  There is a lot more to assessing cultural fit. We all know this intellectually yet, being the emotional creatures that we are, we all know that rational thought is more often than not outweighed by affairs of the heart. Despite this, business executives, HR professionals and owner-operators commonly and continuously make decisions to hire — although they may appear to be entirely unconscious — based on like-ability, the emotional triggers that have everything to do with someone’s personal attributes, and nothing to do with whether or not they’re the right fit for the job.

The only way to determine whether someone will fit a company’s culture is to start by defining the culture of the company and it’s operational pace, the culture of management. These are what determine management styles of inclusion vs exclusion, reward vs punishment, and demands vs engagement on employees.

There you have it. I hope this leaves you with a broader set of perspectives and tools to use when making a decision on right fit in place of “someone you really like”.

The ultimate result will be a greatly improved right fit hire ratio.

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