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Cultural fit is crucial ... and we'll tell you WHY

Ian Cameron Aug 19, 2014 11:56:31 AM

Why is cultural fit so hard to achieve? And does it even really matter? Those are questions I get asked a lot. In fact, in our recent Global Talent Recruitment Survey, 51% of HR professionals said it was difficult to find a good cultural fit.

In that same survey, we learned that when employees don't work out, lack of skills is not the issue 61% of the time. Companies are struggling to find employees who match their culture—or maybe not looking at alland, as a result, hiring on skill and experience alone; but when the employees don't pan out it wasn't those skills they based their decision on that were the problem.  

Let's look a little deeper at what cultural fit is and how you can increase the likelihood of finding it.

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Even if you think you've heard the "correct" answers from a candidate in an interview, you might not have asked the right questions. So many prospective employees are evaluated on skills and experience alone. Neither of those areas even touches cultural fit.

What is culture?

As Simon Sinek, author and TED Talk presenter, would say, "You are focusing on WHAT and not WHY." Culture is about WHY we do what we do. Anyone can learn skills or the WHAT of your companyit's much harder to teach culture. Deeply held values determine they way people view work, and it's the primary source of their motivation during the day. Like it or not, you get the whole personeven if you only hired them for their experience and education.  

Another good description of culture comes from Chuck Blakeman:

What you believe determines your culture. A company with two people in it has a culture, and that culture is simply what you believe and value. Those beliefs and values determine how you make every decision. The outcome of those decisions is your culture. 

How do you recruit for cultural match?

Understanding who you are, and WHY you do what you do as a company is critical because you need to communicate that to candidates. And you need to do that in order to A) attract the right candidates; and B) give yourself a target to measure those candidates against. By clearly communicating your company's culture, you give candidates a chance to consider whether they will be able to succeed your environment. You also attract the attention of those who are looking for that very culture. 

Hit the pause button now and start writing down some deeply held beliefs in your company. How do you make decisions about critical things: money, time, family, etc.?

When you determine what is most important, use that information in your job description. We call this a 3-dimensional job description and it goes beyond asking for experience, education and other "skills" based criteria. Create a meaningful document filled with descriptions about the deeply held beliefs that motivate company decisions. Do you want someone who will hold steady to time in the office? Do you want someone who can work independently? Describe temperament and personality traits you want to see. The more descriptive you can be about culture, the better chance you have of finding the right person. The list of possibilities is endless.

We have a free tool on our website that will help you through this process. 

When you hire on skill alone, you're taking a serious risk. If they're not a good fit to your culture, it will not be long before you have to begin a new search. New employees started to show signs of disenchantment at the 9-month mark, according to our Global Talent Recruitment Survey.

"Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them," Sinek says.

When beliefs match, you'll find that people will work harder, longer and with more passion. In other words, they'll understand your WHY and learn your WHAT with enthusiasm.   

How important is culture for you when recruiting? Let us know in the comments section.

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Topics: Recruitment

Ian Cameron

Written by Ian Cameron

Ian Cameron is the Managing Director of The McQuaig Institute®. He has more than 20 years of Human Resource and Organizational Development consulting experience. Throughout his career Ian’s focus has been on helping organizations realize their goals through their people and helping people live their passion through their work.