Talent at Hannover Messe 2019—Hiring for culture fit: Should you or shouldn’t you?

Last week, as I walked through the trade show exhibit halls at Hannover Messe, I was awespired.  Yes, I had to create a new word to capture the moment.

I was in awe of not only the sheer size of the conference, but also the excitement in the air generated by the thousands of attendees. At the same time, I am inspired by the amazing stories of innovation and digital transformation.

Industry 4.0 is here, now, and organizations are looking to break through the barriers that prevent them from delivering exceptional new products for their customers. And while most of the focus at the conference was on product and production innovation, the Dynamics 365 for Talent team showcased the importance of workplace culture and modern workforce management.

Keeping the pace of innovation requires the right people in the right roles at the right time, as well as the HR operational programs required to support a modern workplace and workforce. To address the myriad of challenges facing manufacturers—the challenge of an aging and multi-generational workforce, the gig economy, shortage of skilled talent, and the need to up-skill workers—HR needs a new approach to workplace culture to lay the foundation of the talent life cycle.

Maybe you’ve seen the articles imploring you to stop hiring for culture fit. How to Hire from the Harvard Business Review, is a perfect example. It calls hiring for culture fit a “misguided strategy” that can contribute to a company’s lack of diversity. It highlights that individuals with different personalities can be great at the job you need done.

That’s absolutely true. But the problem here and in many similar articles is that it conflates hiring for culture fit with hiring that’s based solely on personality type. In fact, hiring for culture fit is far more encompassing and it requires a rigor that many companies lack.

What is hiring for culture fit and what isn’t it?

First off, hiring for culture fit is not about hiring candidates whose personalities all fit a similar mold. That would create a talent echo chamber that shuts out diversity, creativity, and valuable alternate viewpoints. As a recent  article in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) observed, hiring managers define culture fit in terms of personality traits, favoring certain job candidates because they are friendly or have a good attitude, those managers hinder their organization’s ability to innovate because of its homogenous workforce.

Hiring for culture fit also is not about relying on gut instincts—i.e., selecting candidates who feel right for the organization.  Companies that do a good job of leveraging a culture fit in making high-quality hires do so by acknowledging the culture and making it translate to specific skills, abilities, values and motivators of candidates, the SHRM piece notes.

That insight cuts right to heart of hiring for culture fit. In order to do it properly, you must be able to:

  • Identify the essential elements of your company’s culture including your vision and values, preferred behaviors and work processes, even the language, habits and beliefs that fuel successful performance.
  • Map these elements to your open jobs.
  • Use your interviewing and assessment processes to determine which candidates best fit your culture/jobs—and, equally important, which candidates can add to your culture, bringing in qualities that fill gaps and help your company progress.

Clearly, the process of hiring for culture fit is the antithesis of hiring based on gut instincts or on personality type alone.

In addition, hiring for culture fit doesn’t ignore traditional job fit criteria such as career history, relevant experience, or the core competencies required for a role. It also does not ignore personality type or soft skills such as communication style and emotional intelligence. It actually takes all of these qualities into consideration but they must be mappable to specific aspects of your company culture.

By ensuring that personality is just one component of hiring for culture fit, employers protect themselves from creating homogenous work forces that lack diversity and the capacity for continuous creativity and innovation.

Why hire for culture fit

Even in the current talent environment, where workers are changing employers with greater frequency, you want to onboard people who will stay with your company and add value for a reasonable period of time. That’s crucial to holding down costs, maximizing employee productivity and engagement, maintaining continuity within departments and functional areas, and building a strong employment brand.

By hiring for culture fit, you’re bringing in people who are intrinsically aligned with your company’s mission and values. These individuals want to join your company, not just for a paycheck but because they’re passionate about the work being done and eager to contribute to it.

People who are naturally aligned to your company culture are far more likely to understand your priorities, your customers’ needs, the needs of their teammates, and how they can personally facilitate success for everyone. What’s more, these individuals are more likely to gel with the rest of their teams faster, start making meaningful contributions quicker, and willingly give you their very best day after day.

Manufacturing leaders, as well as those in retail, banking, and professional services can gain a competitive advantage in the fight for top talent by incorporating culture into their employer brand.

In part two of this blog series, I’ll drill in a bit deeper to provide a step-by-step actionable approach to culture-centric talent acquisition.

Learn more about how Dynamics 365 for Talent can help your organization hire top talent and enable their success from our demonstration experience.