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The Importance Of Culture Fit

So you just found the right candidate for the job. Smart, a great resume and eager to start. Two months into the job and you notice something strange. Your fresh in the nest new superstar starts trudging instead of walking and his performance numbers are in freefall. He comes in late, and leaves early. At the end of the week you decide to have a little chat. Turns out he loves the job, the compensation is more than fair but somehow he says he doesn’t feel right. You’ve got yourself a culture misfit.

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Employment Is A Two-Way Street

Don’t get us wrong, ‘culture misfit’ sounds bad, but it’s no one’s fault. Culture fit – the opposite of culture misfit – is established when an employee’s beliefs and behavior are in alignment with the core values of a company. Employment is a two-way street after all, and more than often it turns out that one of the lanes crosses the other halfway, causing a head-on collision.

Unfortunately, the hard part about culture fit, is the fact that it is really hard to achieve after a new hire is in. You will never get a creative, entrepreneurial person to thrive, when your corporate culture is all about hierarchy and rules. The same thing goes for someone who needs a lot of guidance, while your organization is an Adhocracy.

What To Do?

Luckily, there are several ways to deal with this: You can grant the entrepreneurial spirits in your hierarchy based organization extra freedom perks, right? Of course you can, but this will affect the people around them and could lead to an ‘I want what they have’ culture.

It’s better to gradually try and let the person fall in love with the organization’s core values. The best way to do that is to have management gently but firmly, ‘enforce’ them. Identify where the problem lies, communicate your expectations and coach the misfit towards a so called culture congruence. When things go right, complement him. When things go wrong, be sure to point that out as well.

It basically boils down to clearly communicating what you want to see changed, and by when. If nothing has happened at the end of the stipulated term, it’s time to mutually decide what is the best way forward for the company and the person in question.

The best way to solve a culture misfit situation however, is to not have one in the first place! Hiring a right fit candidate makes your life that much easier. A well-crafted hiring process that holds more than just a basic intelligence check, resume screening and generic interview is the way to go.

Communication Is Key

It starts with how you communicate with this person when he or she applies for the job. Is it formal or informal? Do you communicate by short sentences, or long sentences? Do you reply fast, or slow? All these things give away elements of the corporate culture. Make sure that they are congruent with your core values.

After that, check that your interview is constructed to get a clear image on what the applicant thinks of, and expects from your organization. Sam Knuth, from Red Hat wrote an interesting blog on interviewing techniques to see whether there’s a culture fit or not.

You can never be 100% certain of culture fit of course. But if you use these techniques, you improve your chances of hiring someone who actually wants to stay, contribute and feel good in your organization.

Did you find this interesting? More articles about HR-tech can be found in our HR Tech Blog overview.

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