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Why You Should Hire For Cultural Alignment

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve seen this scenario: A superstar player is brought into a sports franchise and expectations soar about the possibility of winning a championship. But in the end, the move turns out to be a bust. Why is that so often the case?
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why you should hire for cultural alignment


If you’re a sports fan, you’ve seen this scenario: A superstar player is brought into a sports franchise and expectations soar about the possibility of winning a championship. But in the end, the move turns out to be a bust. 

Why is that so often the case? Because skill and the ability to produce are the shiny objects that grab attention—while the player’s organizational fit is overlooked. 

I bet you’ve seen this in your career too. Experience, production and skills are essential to making good hires. But they can also be the shiny objects that cause hiring managers to overlook the importance of cultural fit.

Tim Kight, founder of Focus 3, has the best definition of culture I’ve encountered. “Culture is the experience people have with your organization, internally and externally,” Kight said. 

How do we experience each other within an organization or as a customer? By the behaviors we observe and encounter. And what drives those behaviors? Typically, it’s the beliefs the organization practices and promotes. 

It’s imperative that an organization clearly articulates three to five core beliefs that are nonnegotiable for all employees. Those beliefs will drive the behaviors and create the experience necessary for organizational success. As management guru Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

For example, your company wants to be known for innovative approaches to risk solutions and best-in-class customer service. To realize those goals, you determine that you need associates who have a customer-first focus, are lifelong learners and are willing to go beyond normal work hours.

Cultural fit must be a top priority when searching for and vetting potential new hires. To identify the best talent, hiring managers need to ask several questions that get to the heart of the beliefs they are looking for to ensure cultural fit. Sample questions might include:

  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to go outside normal business guidelines to put a customer first?
  • What are you doing outside of work to continually grow your industry knowledge and improve your skillset?
  • Describe a time when you put in extra hours at work. What necessitated it? How did you feel about it? What was the result? 

By clearly defining what your organization believes and the behaviors that will lead to the optimal experience, you’re taking big steps toward ensuring success for the company and clients you serve.

If someone doesn’t fit your culture, that doesn’t make them a bad person, nor does it say anything negative about your organization. It simply means they’re not the right piece for the puzzle you’re building, just like a superstar may not make certain teams better. You will be better off—and so will the other person—by making sure you have a good cultural fit.

Brian Ahearn is chief influence officer at Influence PEOPLE LLC

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Thursday, April 6, 2023
Recruiting, Hiring & Training
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