cultural fit

4 ways to hire for cultural fit in the workplace

By the time you get to the place in your career where you’re doing the hiring, you’ve had a fair amount of success in your professional history.

Without realizing it, your success may begin to influence your perception. You might be prone to think that following the path that led you to success is the only way for someone else to be successful.

With that logic, you might try to replicate your success by repeatedly hiring others who are like you.

As time passes and your organization grows, however, you may discover that you’re still facing the same challenges you’ve been experiencing for years – and they’re getting worse.

The problem: You’ve been hiring clones.

Here’s how to get past your unconscious bias and begin to properly understand and hire for cultural fit in the workplace.

1. Get clarity around your customer promise

You won’t be successful as an organization if you’re simply hiring candidates who are cut from the same cloth as you. A business is not a family dynamic – it exists to accomplish something specific in the marketplace.

A better strategy is to hire for cultural fit. Hiring for cultural fit in the workplace means hiring people who believe in and can get behind your customer promise.

As Dr. William Schneider explains in his book, Lead Right For Your Company’s Type, a healthy culture begins with knowing your customer promise. Then, you need to live it out in every hiring decision you make.

That means making sure the candidates you interview understand what your organization is promising customers – and how you expect them to help you deliver on it. A shared passion for fulfilling the customer promise should be the unifier among your staff.

When your employees are focused on accomplishing the objective, and every movement is aligned with delivering what you promise your customer, it helps everyone get past personality struggles and creates a workplace ready to achieve its goals. As the moments get real and personalities clash, your employees will be able to shift their focus away from grievances or differences to the task at hand – delivering on your promise to the customer.

2. Check your definition of diversity

With succinct clarity around your customer promise, you can identify any issues that may keep your business from hitting its goals, and which skill sets you need to fill those gaps.

Unfortunately, when many people hear the word “diversity,” they simply think of attributes like sex, race or national origin – all factors that, if considered during the hiring process, will run afoul of discrimination laws.

In actuality, diversity in the workplace must be more than that. It’s about being surrounded by people who have strengths you don’t have, along with different life experiences and career aspirations. You want to add employees who support your company’s values and professional ethics but bring different abilities and perspectives to the table.

3. Know your diversity needs

Creating diversity requires vetting candidates according to the deficiencies that exist on your team.

For example, let’s say a business owner has frequently been told in his professional career that he has a tendency to come across as rude or terse. If he’s aware of his shortcomings, and how they have limited the organization’s success, he’ll be better able to determine that he needs to hire someone who has strengths in sensitivity, empathy and diplomacy.

In this case, a good candidate would have a strong background in mediating between employees in conflict. Because this is not one of his strengths, interviewing and hiring decisions should involve a diverse staff.

As a hiring manager, it’s important to recognize your weaknesses and figure out who in your business is better in those areas than you. By involving that person (or those persons) on the interview panel, you can do a better job of identifying someone with the skill set you’re missing.

4. Put it into practice

Diversity inherently brings with it a framework for checks and balances as employees work through differing opinions. For example, if you pair a fast-paced, task-oriented employee with an employee who is more cautious and compliance-driven, you’ll create an organic checks-and-balances system for workflow and project milestones.

The fast-paced employee will usually think a goal can be attained much faster than it can be in reality. In contrast, a more cautious employee will probably go at a slower pace than is ideal. Neither is right or wrong – they’re simply acting according to their own nature.

But if you can put the two employees together successfully, the fast-paced one will likely speed up the cautious coworker. Likewise, the cautious employee can encourage the fast-paced employee to tap the brakes when necessary. As they adapt to each other, they’ll learn to work at a more realistic and productive pace.

Everybody wins

Coordinating collaboration among employees with a mix of skills is often the perfect recipe for built-in diversity with balance and shared goals for success.

The result: By making cultural fit in the workplace a priority, your employees will create the best product or service possible.

Want more advice on how to work toward a more strategic people plan? Download our free e-book, How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.

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