Three Steps To Hiring Players That Fit Your Culture
June 4, 2015
Founder & CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group
TopicsAlignment, Culture, Culture Fit, hiring, Values
How well does your team or department or company hire for culture fit?
If you’re like the organizations that were studied for Cubik’s 2013 Survey on job and culture fit, 82 percent said that measuring cultural fit is important - yet only 54 percent believe that their organization has a clear definition of its culture.
Only 32 percent say that their company measures cultural fit in the recruitment process.
I love the definition of culture fit presented in Jennifer Chatman’s 1991 Research Study which states, “Person-organization fit is defined as the congruence between patterns of organizational values and patterns of individual values."
Cultural fit, then, is best assessed by examining the degree to which the individual candidate’s values align with the organization’s values. The higher that alignment, the better the cultural fit.
That’s a difficult assessment to make if your organization hasn’t formalized its values. Most organizations have demonstrated values - those norms that evolve over time - but they are not formalized. And demonstrated values might not be the values you want lived day to day.
Hiring for culture fit is even harder to do when interviewers ignore the organization’s values in the hiring process. For example, in her recentNew York Times article, Lauren Rivera describes an organization where fit wasn’t about a match with organizational values, it was about personal fit with the interviewer.
The interviewers Rivera studied hired people that they enjoyed and wanted to hang out with. Individual chemistry is well and good, but if the new hire's values are inconsistent with the organization’s values, there will be conflicts, poor productivity, and lousy service.
Ensuring New Hires Are a Great Cultural Fit
- Define what a good job looks like - not just for performance but for citizenship, as well. Citizenship standards must be formalized though behaviorally-defined values. Why "behaviorally defined” values? Because players on your team will have an easier time of modeling your values if they know exactly what behaviors are required.
- Align all plans, decisions, and actions to your defined values and behaviors. Simply announcing your new values and behaviors doesn’t mean they will be embraced! Leaders must model the values and behaviors in every interaction - then coach their team members to do the same, every day.
The alignment process means leaders must praise those players that model the valued behaviors and redirect those players that do not model those behaviors. Just as you must hold team leaders and players accountable for performance expectations, you must also hold team leaders and players accountable for values expectations. You can no longer tolerate bad behavior from anyone.
By crafting a high performing, values-based organization, the new hires you bring in will have the best chance to learn about and embrace your desired culture.
- Hire to your organization’s values. Change your interview process to include at least 50 percent of the hiring decision’s weight on the degree to which the candidate’s values match the organization’s values. Include application questions that require the candidate to share their values about work, team members, and customers. Include time for panel interviews with current team members so they can provide their perspective about the candidate's skills and culture fit.
These three steps will help you hire the right players who will fit into your desired culture effectively.
Hi, Chris – excellent post.
I am particularly struck by the gaps between organization’s views of the importance of cultural fit, their clarity (or lack) around what their own culture is, and how to measure it. This reinforces what I think many of us feel intuitively … mostly invisible, but highly powerful forces are at work when people gather to collaborate, which are largely not understood or used appropriately.
Bonus Point: Noting the need to define “citizenship” as a job component. Too often, I think we feel that making generic and vague comments about “community involvement” and “Being a team player” cover this important aspect … and we fall short of clearly stating what it means to be part of that community.
As I reread your three-step solution, I am reminded of two facts:
1) This is basically a fairly straight-forward process, which is not difficult to understand theoretically.
2) This is incredibly complext to actually execute, since it includes the messy aspect of individual and group perspectives about how we work together.
Thanks for offering clarity and focus toward this important part of decision-making about who will work with whom … useful for those hiring and those being hired both.
Thank you, John, for your comments, kind words, and insights!
You’re exactly right – creating a high performing, values-aligned culture is complex, particularly for leaders who have never been asked to proactively manage culture.
And, it is straight-forward. Define. Align. Refine. Defining your desired values & behaviors doesn’t take too long. Aligning? Quite a while – 18 to 24 months. And most leaders don’t have the skills do to it today – they need guidance to ensure the execution happens!