<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2049049351998780&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Is Hiring For Culture Fit Doing More Harm Than Good?

Tim Driscoll

February 6, 2020

It’s not groundbreaking news that Millennials and incoming Gen Z workers tend to reject traditional workplace norms. Over the last decade, companies old and new have rapidly changed culture expectations in the workplace to keep pace with the evolving workforce. Work/life balance is tantamount, leaders who micromanage rarely see sustained results, and some hiring managers are building a more diverse workforce.

Culture is a critical aspect for organizations — it’s their identity, the manifestation of their values, and, for many, it’s a cornerstone of their recruitment marketing and employer branding efforts. In fact, culture is such a big deal, a lot of companies have started hiring candidates for culture fit.

Did you know? Only 38% of executives understand what #CompanyCulture is and how to manage it. @InspireSoftware shows you why hiring for #CultureFit isn’t always the best way to do it:Tweet This!

The idea of hiring for culture fit, is that both the candidate and the organization have an opportunity to examine the values, personality, and competencies of each other. Doing so makes for a better match during the hiring process, while reducing bias. Candidates are judged based on fit, rather than a single interview or resume. The result is intended to reduce turnover, increase collaboration, and improve employee engagement.

The problem, however, is that this isn’t always the case.

Is Culture Fit More Bad Than Good?

The concept makes sense. Employees share a similar mindset, work towards a common goal, and collaborate more easily with one another. On the surface, it appears to be a recipe for success. But without careful planning and a monitored strategy, groupthink can take over, and your culture fit starts to work against you:

Culture Fit Can Reinforce Existing Bias

An important aspect of hiring for culture fit is the idea that it bolsters the company culture while reducing inherent biases in the hiring process. But, without a strong culture fit strategy in place, organizations might be reinforcing biases that already exist.

When hiring managers choose people who all fit into the same set of preferences, a homogenous culture can form, and it can be difficult to break from a singular way of thinking if it’s already there.

What To Do Instead

  • Review your demographic breakdown to identify gaps
  • Examine existing roles and responsibilities along gender, age, and racial lines
  • Build a long-term internal strategy to correct any red flags identified
  • Align any cultural interview questions or hiring screens across all departments
  • Create a hiring and managerial team comprised of many roles to fight bias
  • Ensure all job advertisements, descriptions and hiring content are free of biased language
  • Examine educational and experience parameters and discern if they are hindering any one group in particular

Culture Fit Can Stifle Growth

Organizations also risk turning away great candidates that don’t approach problems with the same mindset or use the same tools as your company does. Turning away people who think or operate differently than the way the existing culture does can be a lost opportunity to expand and enhance that culture for the better.

employee engagement CTA

What To Do Instead

  • Focus on aligned corporate and individual values and work ethic over process and experience
  • Create a culture document on which your “team” can sign off and include concrete examples of cultural values therein
  • Provide opportunities for employees to bring their perspectives to the table
  • Actively create leadership opportunities within the organization through coaching and learning programs
  • Show how internalizing cultural values can lead to situations which propel growth in the organization

Culture Fit Can’t Be Quantified

Culture fit is subjective. The metrics companies often use to identify cultural impact don’t tell any kind of real story, and it’s real impact is almost impossible to measure without strong guidelines in place.

Fit boils down to who can develop a rapport with the interviewer — something that culture fit hiring is supposed to counteract. Unfortunately, there isn’t a fixed set of personality traits to measure, so identifying fit based on real criteria is challenging if not considered with deliberate intentions.

What To Do Instead

  • Make a concerted effort to identify and document the values that represent your current culture
  • Create real-life examples of those values lived out
  • Build cultural values and traits into your hiring and performance conversations and collateral
  • Focus on universally productive traits like generosity, collaboration, and curiosity
  • Ensure employees, hiring managers, and candidates understand what culture means to your organization in every corporate interaction

The Inspire Approach to Company Culture

Effective and lasting cultures come from within. Leading by example and developing employees through continuous conversations, leadership training, and overall performance development is the key to true cultural transformation.

Fewer than 38% of executives understand their organizational culture. They know culture is important, but they don’t understand what it is or how to promote culture amongst employees. Crafting a robust company culture comes down to three keys aspects:

  • A strong set of core values and setting organizational goals that align with them
  • Regular performance conversations that address issues and opportunities in real-time
  • Leadership that sets the tone and encourages autonomy in individuals
Is #CultureFit doing more harm than good? Find out why @InspireSoftware says #CompanyCulture should come from within:Tweet This!

Core Values and Company Culture

Both organizational and individual goals influence culture. Culture should set the tone for attitude and work ethic, not the other way around. Core values and a common language articulate the principles under which individuals should operate. Well-crafted core values will guide hiring decisions, craft a brand identity, and aid in recruiting.

Leaders and employees who understand and internalize values create a common language throughout an organization. When leadership sets their strategic goals aligned with those values, teams and individuals set their own goals to fall in line and serve the greater good.

Performance Conversations and Company Culture

Hiring a mindset of self-leadership throughout the organization is the foundation to an engaged workforce. Employees get hired for a reason, and it’s important to demonstrate trust that goes beyond manager and employee. It must exist through the entire company. Performance conversations that address the leverage of corporate values are incredibly effective because they come from a universally understood language (if you’ve crafted your hiring, performance, and management conversations around these values.)

When employees can work according to the values they agree upon day in and day out, they’re more likely to take ownership of their work, choose opportunities to improve and expand their skills, and work more closely with others. By reinforcing the values the company holds and aligning it with their personal goals and performance, it’s an every day, every employee conversation.

Leadership and Company Culture

Leadership has a significant impact on company culture. Leadership is responsible for establishing the vision, values, and expectations of an organization, and sets the tone for how those are carried out within the company and amongst employees. “Lead by example” is a critical part of culture taking hold.

Bonus Content: Get the Creating a Culture of Excellence White Paper!

Leaders hold a large part of the responsibility to enable individuals to work within their abilities and motivations, and help provide a safe environment for employees to succeed AND fail, push their boundaries AND adhere to company values, suggest new ideas AND respect the ideas of others. Managers make a difference, and those who uphold and embody the values of the company, and insist on the same from their team, will see the culture take shape from person to person.

Having trouble creating the culture of excellence you're looking for? Inspire has the guide for you. Develop an organizational mindset focused on proven methods. The Inspire platform is built to seamlessly infuse company cultures with robust leadership, goal-setting, and performance management. We’d love to show you more about the ways Inspire can transform your culture from the inside out.

Continuous conversations