When Hiring Becomes a Problem

While it shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore, I am still stunned by the lack of care shown by managers, particularly senior level executives, who are looking to hire more leaders to help with the running of their companies. Despite all the amazing books and case studies available for little cost today, focusing on crucial aspects such as behavioral interviewing and paying attention to hiring based on cultural fit, I am still challenged by the fact that leaders are hiring based on the old fashion way: looking at resume skills. 

Ultimately what this process leads to in many instances is hiring people who look like “all stars” when stood alone, yet who end up creating internal problems that disrupts a team in the short run and the wellbeing of the organization in the long run. This leads me to wonder if executives are simply talking the talk when it comes to hiring based on cultural fit, while behind the scenes viewing the practice as a feel-good agenda to appease the masses.

Since I’m an avid fan of all things sports, I’ll compare this to a baseball analogy. If you need any further proof of the importance of great cultural fit, look no further than the 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship winning team. That team was the epitome of a team that was assembled where players worked well together.

The Detroit Tigers in contrast were a collection of “all-star” caliber players like Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera to name a few. However, to back my case up, those “all stars” were swept in the World Series by the Giants, a collection of self-described “misfits”, role players and under achievers who banded together and played as a unit.

Who deserves a lot of the praise for their World Series pennant? A General Manager by the name of Brian Sabean. Sabean was able to hire a coach and players who complemented each other and who fit his ideal cultural ideation. He’s even rumored to have turned down trades for certain high caliber players because he was afraid it would throw off the chemistry of the team. Most teams, and we see this all the time, would have taken those high caliber players anyway simply because he was “the most talented player available”. But for Brian Sabean, there is more to a player than talent. The player has to fit into the organization first and foremost.

And so, my recommendation to all hiring leaders, but most importantly executives, is to welcome the idea of hiring for cultural fit and getting comfortable turning down a prospective employee who might look like a big deal on paper but ultimately isn’t going to make the team better.

This practice doesn’t happen overnight and takes time and patience. I strongly encourage educating yourself on books about cultural fit and behavioral interviewing. The most important thing is to figure out the key behavioral attributes that make someone the right fit for your organization and force yourself to fixate on those qualities when recruiting, interviewing and inevitably making a hiring decision. 

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