How To Preserve A Teaming Culture: Hire For Fit

Leaders regularly face the opportunity to bring the “right” people into their organization, and the way they are coming to understand “right” is rapidly changing. It’s no secret that many businesses want to fill vacancies by hiring up — bringing in new and different skill sets with the hopes of developing a competitive edge.

Beware of Hiring For Skills Alone

These hires feel “right” for the organization because there is a belief that they will bring a skillset or a network that the company feels is fundamentally missing. By importing this expertise and reach, there is a sense that the company will most quickly and efficiently get ahead. The company believes this and often, so does the candidate.

While this is true to a degree, focusing too much on hiring to a particular skill set or competency alone could leave teams and organizations open to bigger issues down the road.

Throughout my career, I’ve helped build teams that can adapt quickly, think creatively, work collaboratively, drive results, and serve customers at every turn. When I reflect on the people who have been most successful in these dynamic and agile environments, I find that they are not those whose main motivation is to seek and receive individual recognition and reward.

Rather, my most successful teams have been comprised of individuals who find supreme pleasure doing a great job for the group, navigating day-to-day challenges, and reaching way outside of the box — they’re interested in being part of a great team, in serving customers and in striving to make the greater team successful.

Understanding Different Personality Groups

Bestselling author and professor Adam Grant has done research which identifies three main groups within all company environments:

Givers
Employees that are eager to help solve customer and team challenges, are more flexible in approach, and thrive in flat structures with collaborative environments.

Takers
This group is focused on self-promotion and who thrive in hierarchical environments. They use “I” and “me” in most contexts and can sometimes be more aware of their perceived benefit to the organization than working towards a greater goal.

Matchers
This group aligns themselves to Givers or Takers, depending on whichever group is most dominant.

So, what role does each group play? Grant’s research shows that hiring enough Givers to outweigh Takers is not a straightforward balancing act. The impact of a Taker on the team is twice as influential as the impact of Givers, which suggests that, in order for Givers to prevail, they must outnumber Takers two-to-one. If a Taker is particularly dominant in an environment, the Matchers could be swayed to take on their behaviors and everyone will be affected.

4 Ways To Support Hiring For Fit

  1. Understand the culture. Re-read the company mission and value statements, consider what resonates for you and ask your colleagues as well. Review with the hiring manager what key elements they consider important for success beyond the job description and create a picture of what characteristics that person will bring in addition to the role.
  2. Don’t over-sell. Particularly when companies are changing direction, there is a sense that they need to get the caliber found in other businesses. They may feel that they are a less desirable destination within their industry and feel that they have to woo or overly impress candidates to even be considered as an option. That’s a bad place to start from.
  3. Be creative in the interview process. Grant suggests that one way to screen out Takers is to ask situational-based questions that get the interviewee to consider what someone else would do in the situation. A lot of important information about the candidate can be revealed.
  4. Take time and be thorough. Too often, recruiters who feel pressure to fill roles rush decisions, even convincing hiring managers that it will “work out.” If there is even the slightest element of doubt, keep searching.

The learning? High competency alone does not guarantee that the exercise of hiring up will lead to more productive and effective results across the board. If the employee is not a team player – a Taker – what gains might have been made in skill set will be lost in overall team productivity and impact on company culture.