“They just weren’t a good fit”
We’ve probably all heard these words, or similar ones, at some point in our career. But what they mean isn’t always clear. Is the person really saying:
The problem is that people could be referring to either of the above. Particularly when a term as broad as ‘culture’ is thrown in. Even anthropologists don’t agree on a definition of what culture is.
But the outcomes of the options above will be vastly different. The first will result in a monoculture where everyone may not look alike - but will think in the same way. And subsequently will have trouble innovating and changing.
On the other hand, the second approach can help encourage diversity while getting everyone pulling in the same direction - if done correctly.
But no need to worry - the articles below can point you in the right direction.
P.S. Got a tip or something you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it - just send me a note by replying to this email.
Culture fit first became a thing in the 1980s. The idea being that if companies hired people whose personality and values, not just skills, aligned with their strategy, workers would feel more attached to their jobs, work harder and stay longer.
But over the years, as the research evolved, so did the way companies’ interpreted culture fit and used it in their hiring.
This article includes plenty of research. Along with a look at how Greenhouse built a framework so that their interviewers didn’t fall into the trap of seeking personal connections - instead of identifying common values.
In this interview, Pat Wadors, LinkedIn’s Head of HR, shares her views on culture fit.
Pat believes that the problem with assessing for culture fit is that it’s too broad. Culture can cover so many aspects of an employee’s behaviour, including:
Therefore recruiters should break culture fit down into more tangible, accessible pieces.
I particularly like her analogy of culture. She likens it to a jigsaw puzzle - and how all of the individual (not identical) pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Company culture - and what it means to fit in - can be tricky to define. But it’s important to be clear on what it is, both internally and with candidates.
This article looks at how to define your culture, and incorporate it into your hiring. In particular, what values and beliefs map back to your company’s mission.
It also stresses that while you want everyone to be united by your company’s mission, diversity is key. Because diversity is what will help you tackle problems in new ways, and push your team to achieve the company’s mission.
A slightly different take, the author, Delisa Alexander, who is Chief People Officer at Red Hat, ignores ‘culture fit’ and instead looks for ‘culture add’.
In her view, “culture add” is about looking at a candidate’s ability to thrive in an organisation as it is today - and their ability to help the organisation grow into what it wants to be.
To assess for culture add, Red Hat (a large software company) asks the following questions about each candidate:
The aim of these questions is to help hiring managers understand if a candidate’s individuality and differences can make the company better and stronger.
In this interview, Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist and management expert, shares his views on company culture and culture fit.
In one of his studies, he and his students wanted to assess company cultures. To do this, they asked employees at each company, “What’s a story about something that happened here that wouldn’t happen anywhere else?”
What they found was that many of the stories were the same. Company culture wasn’t as unique as the leadership imagined it was. Which is a good thing as it means we can learn from other companies.
Another study looked at how culture fit affected the success of start-up companies. Overall, the companies that prioritised hiring for culture fit were less likely to fail, and more likely to have an IPO.
But after the IPO, they grow slower. Because they had more homogeneous groups - where it was easier to fall into groupthink. And easier to be disrupted as they have more difficulty innovating and changing.
The interview has many great insights into the workplace, different types of people and how to work more effectively.
👉 But if you want to skip to the section on culture fit it’s at 13:58. Or this video has similar info (also with Adam).
That’s all for now - I hope you enjoyed it! And if you did, please spread the word and this link