Is There Danger in Hiring the Cultural Fit?

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Is There Danger in Hiring the Cultural Fit?

We’d be naive to say that working alongside like-minded people isn’t initially easier.

Yes, the first day for a new employee entering an environment that feels entirely comfortable can make the on-boarding process seem simpler for all.  Does that first day comfort, though, translate into long- term employee performance?

The data suggests that it might not.

In fact, if it is true that nearly half of new hires fail in the first 18 months of employment because they cannot assimilate into the new environment, it could be said that hiring a candidate because they are the closest match to the profile of your current workforce is a losing strategy.

As Entrepreneur points out, “an organization that that selects for the highest performance cannot possibly also be a homogeneous organization.”  The point is emphasized further in plain terms we’ve all used before, “Don’t hire people you know.”

So, why then do we often see hiring managers using the immediate cultural fit of a candidate to weed good candidates out and, potential sub-par candidates in?

A bad hire is never intentional – we’re trying our best.  Hiring managers have a tough job and, let’s face it, determining a candidate’s ability to come into a new workplace and contribute for the long-term is not an exact science.

Because of the risk, hiring similar candidates is a safe choice – one that doesn’t rock the boat and prevents any shorter-term waves.  These safe choices, though, carry forward a status quo that might limit the company’s innovation and creativity.

Erring on the side of the status quo can allow a hiring manager to be prematurely dismissive of solid candidates.  Bias to hire similar people can have a hiring manager interpret a candidate’s honesty as too blunt, an applicant’s comfort with professional conflict as too contentious and a potential high performer’s confidence as arrogance.

It is the job of the hiring manager to not only assess the job seeker’s current fit, but how they might make an impact as their career progresses.  Some of the very skills that might be considered edgy today will lead to innovations in the future.

Hiring managers should keep an open mind by listening to each candidate’s perspective and asking:

-That’s not how we do things, but should we?

-I’m not sure that will work in the short-term, but do I think that might work in the future?

-Can the applicant point to ways his/her confidence helped them bring forward ideas that helped a project or customer?

Asking these questions – either directly to the candidate or during your evaluation – is a critical step in finding a fit for the short and long-term.

The hiring process, in fact, can be either the best way to maintain the status quo or the most direct method to disrupt it.  Hiring plays a role because the average worker will not buck the current ways of working.  In fact, according to a study by the Harvard Business Review, employees rarely think “outside the box” – nearly 42%, by their own admission, never do!

The hiring process can help change that – or, unfortunately, perpetuate it.

But, let’s not overstate the impact that hiring outside of our currently defined culture on today’s workplace.  Be clear that we are not advocating for a short-term upheaval of everything that has built your company’s success.

We are, though, encouraged by hiring managers that take time to introduce new ideas, new ways of working and new perspectives into their organizations.  The right candidates, after all, might not be cut from the same cloth as your C.E.O. – and that’s okay.

The best cultures do not stagnant and are never homogeneous.  Cultures evolve, develop and bring fresh perspectives that drive growth in new ways.

Don’t allow a safe, status-quo-driving hiring process to help stagnate a mundane company culture.  Instead, use your hiring process to drive the diversity that will tap into your employee’s innovation.

Don’t hire someone you know already.

Instead, it may be time to hire someone that you might not – but want to.

Need help finding qualified applicants that will push your organization forward?  Contact Goliath today!

By | 2019-02-21T19:31:32+00:00 February 21st, 2019|Blog|0 Comments