How wise is recruiting for ‘culture fit’?

I hear so many recruiters say they are looking for ‘culture fit’ when assessing candidates. Is this wise? In my experience, very rarely.

Culture is defined as “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time” in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Or, put more simply, ‘the way we do things around here’. Seeking out culture fit in candidates assumes that ‘the way we do things around here’ is the best, or even the only way things should be done.

The risk (and I think it’s a big risk) is that the practice of appointing people who share your customs and beliefs feeds into ‘group think’. This is where decision-makers sit around violently agreeing with each other, seeing every situation from the same viewpoint. It has been described as “A phenomenon that occurs when the desire for group consensus overrides people’s common sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion. Here, the desire for group cohesion effectively drives out good decision-making and problem solving.” (source)

An organisational culture which has become complacent in thinking it already has all of the answers and can’t be improved prevents growth, innovation, disruption and is potentially dangerous to its future success. Including people who will look at issues through fresh eyes, with different ways of thinking and perspectives, and who will question and challenge the status quo is surely more healthy for the business?

Often, those organisations looking for culture fit are afraid of being questioned or challenged. They want people similar to them, with similar ways of thinking, who will just seamlessly slip in to the organisation without causing any ripples. Whilst this may be easier and more comfortable in the short-term, the long-term risks to the business can be huge.

The world is changing. Rapidly. Those who rely on ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ are denying the reality of the need to change, innovate and develop. Those who look for new, exciting and different ways to do things are able to not just adapt to the changing business environment, but to influence that change.

The next time you are recruiting, instead of looking for someone who will disappear into the background of your existing culture, actively seek someone who might challenge and question the status quo. Someone who is different from you. Someone who brings different experiences and ways of thinking with them. Are you brave enough?

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Spotting strengths and latent skills – why it matters

Today I learned that my five-year-old is a talented actress. I’d had no idea. It’s easy to focus on the things she needs help with instead. I know she struggles to ride a bike. I know she doesn’t like being told what to do. I had been simply enjoying her strengths rather than nurturing them. But now this strength has been spotted, she’s playing Lady Capulet. And in doing so, she lights up. Her confidence has soared. She’s a much happier child. Thank you, William Shakespeare!

As adults, I think we forget to pay attention to the things we’re good at. It’s much easier to focus on the negatives. And our confidence responds accordingly. Many of us can rattle off our positive attributes for CVs and interviews. But I’m not sure we pay much attention to them or sculpt our work days accordingly. Do we ever address the organizational or environmental aspects of our work? Two of the factors that affect our wellbeing and productivity…

Picture shows the words 'be smart' and a picture of a lightbulbWhat impacts on your work day?

Last week (as a nice change) I was given a computer game to play. Job Fit is a work simulation game. It shows you how you would perform in a job and flags up areas for improvement.  In a nutshell, it teases out strengths and lagging skills. But in a fun way! With my nursing background, it was no surprise that I’m good at relating to people. But it also revealed that interruptions stress me. The constant ringing of a telephone in the game set me on edge. So much so that I almost stopped playing… Looking back, I remembered roles where noise massively affected my wellbeing. But at the time I had no understanding of this and no strategies to manage it.

So we need to pay attention. What makes you happier? Which aspects of your work do you focus on and enjoy? What part of your job description would you do for free? And can you build more of this into your role?

 

What do you find hard? Do you need to develop this area? Or can you focus on your strengths instead? How does your environment affect you? If like me, noise is a stressor, can you work with one earphone in? Turn off your phone when you need to focus? Would you be better working remotely? Or do you thrive on the buzz of a busy office?

Take the time to notice. Look for the people that pay attention. Find out your strengths and latent skills. And ask for what you need. Be Lady Capulet!

 

* As a loyalty perk, registered Evenbreak candidates can play Job Fit for free. Register here and you’ll receive the link in our newsletter.