Cultural Fit? Why?

Our differences make us stronger
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“Your skills, expertise and approach are exactly what we’re looking for and you impressed the interview panel with your insight. Unfortunately in this case we’ve decided to go with another candidate who we feel is a closer cultural fit to our organisation.”

Sound familiar? What is wrong with these people?

Imagine working in an organisation where everybody neatly fits into the imagined shape of their roles. Or worse, one where every single person brings exactly the same skill-set, background and life-experience? Not only would this be boring on an epic scale, it’s counter-productive.

Our differences make us stronger

Picture this: company X is losing an important staff member Kim (and all staff are important, right?). They’ve drawn up a job description exactly around what Kim does. Fair enough. But they then go on to screen and interview based on whether they feel candidates will “fit” the shape of the empty space on the jigsaw puzzle. This is the wrong question to ask!

We shouldn’t be asking ourselves if candidates will “fit” into our culture. Assuming they do fit, what have you gained? Yet another boilerplate employee stamped out of the company mold? Is that what you need? (If your answer is “yes”, you can probably stop reading now)

Wouldn’t you rather hire somebody who adds to the tapestry of your workplace? Somebody who challenges the status quo, helps the business discover better ways of doing things? If you have the perfect candidate in front of you, in terms of skills, experience, and so on, but are worried that they’ll not quite match the shape of the hole in the jigsaw… then maybe the pieces around the hole might need to change shape? Shock! Horror! Right?

If you don’t view every new hire as an opportunity to grow and evolve the way your organisation operates and deals with people (yes: people, not resources), you’re missing a bet.

As a side note: did Kim leave because they became frustrated at the inflexible “culture” they were forced to conform to? It’s worth looking into, even if the reasons given seem valid.