By Paula Soileau and Deborah Kerr| Affintus
At every business gathering, conversation inevitably turns to solving the biggest challenge companies face: hiring the right people.
Many share stories about finding the perfect candidate – someone who has an impressive resume with great experience, and an excellent interview, and seems to be an overall great fit for the job. You are convinced this will be the perfect employee.
Then, after a couple of months on the job, it becomes clear that “perfect” person isn’t working out. The new guy just doesn’t fit in.
When people say, “She just didn’t fit in…” they are often referring to a mismatch between the company culture and the culture the employee prefers to work in. Get it wrong and you know it pretty quickly: restless staff, turnover, an employee who is difficult to manage, and lackluster performance. Get it right and you see higher job satisfaction, lower turnover, faster ramp up, and more commitment to the company – factors that lead to significantly better financial performance. Work culture is often thought of as some touchy-feely thing that HR talks about – the “vibe” in the workplace described in job postings as the coolness of the company.
Wrong. Work culture fit is the compatibility between the organization’s characteristics and the person’s work preferences. Culture is a system of shared values and beliefs that reflect the norms of behavior in the company… culture is the company’s “way of life.” Take a look at Southwest Airlines, Zappos, or the US Marine Corps and you see cultures of passion, commitment to shared values, and unrelenting focus on goal achievement. They know how to find the right people…do you?
Here are a few basic steps that can help you evaluate culture match.
- Describe your company’s culture.
Begin by clarifying your culture and writing it down for everyone to see. Strong cultures continue to evolve over time, but the first step is to figure out where you are now. Culture is reflected in behavior, so begin by asking, “How do we want people to act and do we reward them for acting that way?” Is it okay to swear at others in your organization? Does your company really welcome new ideas or just say that you do, while shooting down most of them? Are employees encouraged to challenge ideas and question things or is it a place where everyone needs to get along at all costs? Be honest.
- Situational interviewing helps hiring managers evaluate culture fit.
In situational interviews, the interviewer presents the candidate with different scenarios and asks how the candidate would approach it. The examples used in the scenarios should be based on real situations and the candidate’s responses and ideas can be rated on standard scale to assure consistency across interviews. While it can take some time to develop the scenarios and conduct the interview, talent decisions are more accurate after implementing situational interviewing.
- Use an assessment to evaluate culture match.
It can be very challenging for a company to accurately describe its own culture, and even more difficult to determine if job candidates “fit” that culture. One of the fastest and most cost effective ways to accurately evaluate work culture match is to use a hiring assessment that measures and reports work culture. A variety of valid and affordable assessments are available – they quickly identify the strength of the match between the company culture and job candidates’ preferences and personality. The results of an objective assessment are more accurate than an interview, more reliable than a resume review, and significantly reduce decision time and dramatically increase the success of hire.
Hiring is expensive – while most companies do not track cost to hire, it can easily take 50% of annual salary to move someone out of the company and find (and train) a replacement. The idea of “getting butts in chairs” then seeing how they work out turns out to be a pretty expensive way to screen for culture match.
A strong, shared work culture provides the environment for employees to thrive and succeed. In fact culture match trumps experience when predicting future success on the job. Finding the right employees doesn’t have to be based on good luck and churn – you can…and should… adopt a method to help you find the people who fit right in.