Ellen Warden, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
Of course, you want to employ people who gel with the culture of your firm. When you do it right, you get employees who fit their role, work well with colleagues and share their company’s sense of purpose. But, when you do it wrong …
Culture fit is worth taking into account when you hire. It contributes to about 50% of overall job satisfaction. Most job candidates rank culture fit high on the list of what they want in an employer.
Unfortunately, “fit has gone rogue,” says the author of a study by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. That study found that managers who had been instructed to hire for culture fit made picks based on their chemistry with a job candidate. Untrained interviewers often look for “potential friends and ‘playmates’ rather than those with the best work experience or job-relevant skills.”
What most people mean when they say someone is a good fit culturally is that he or she is someone he or she’d like to have a beer with. However, people with all sorts of personalities can be great at the job you need to be done.
Avoid the pitfall of looking for a best friend instead of a best hire by defining your firm’s values and long-term objectives before you start interviewing candidates. List the top three or four behaviors critical for success in your firm. These behaviors are your company culture translated into daily operations. Ask questions to understand your candidates’ motivations and drivers and get a sense of how they would interact within your existing team and your culture. Use your questions to identify toxic behaviors in potential hires before you make a hiring decision. Keep in mind your future goals and prioritize candidates who will nudge your team in the right direction.
Cultural fit doesn’t mean hiring people you like, people who are just like you or being discriminatory. It doesn’t mean everyone on your team needs to be similar, or that they need to be best friends. It does mean hiring a group that can collaborate and communicate respectfully and effectively to be productive. A team works best not when its members are identical, but when they are compatible, complementary and able to cooperate.
Though your goal may be to find a candidate who fits well within your current culture, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should look for someone who is a cookie-cutter image of the rest of your team.
If you’ve established an effective culture, recruit candidates who closely embody it. Alternatively, hire people who will enhance it.
Do you need help defining your firm’s organizational culture to retain great employees? Ellen Warden works with BV/LS practices around the country to help them align their HR solutions with long-term objectives. You can reach Ellen at WorkPlace Synergy.