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Finding the cultural fit; it's essential to long-term health.

Smart Hiring

In the work setting, lack of fit between an employee and an organization can be described as culture clash. Culture encompasses the shared, taken-for-granted assumptions that a group has learned throughout its history, including:

* Work style--The way work is done.

* Team orientation--Hierarchical vs. egalitarian.

* Management style--Collaborative or commanding.

* Customer orientation--A nuisance as opposed to reason for being.

* Political style--What you know vs. who you know.

Lack of cultural fit is largely due to a misguided hiring process supported by ineffective execution. Even the best-intentioned organizations frequently don't assess the issue of cultural fit accurately. Failure to do this minimizes the likelihood of arriving at a successful match.

The hiring process should begin with a clear understanding of the position being filled. While this may seem painfully obvious, such an understanding is often only presumed. Consider the scientific perspective that an anthropologist might bring to the task of examining an employee's role in an organization:

* How does the person in this position perform their job, alone or in groups?

* What supervisory style should the person use, authoritarian or inspirational?

* What form of group interaction does the position have, as a leader or follower?

* What authority does this position have? What responsibility?

* What are the consequences of success and failure in this organization?

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It's important that the employer explicitly defines the answer to each of these questions before beginning the interview process.

Thoughtful consideration to the cultural context of the position is essential to achieve a good fit. It may be easier to determine the requisite personal attributes of a successful candidate by enumerating those that would show evidence of a lack of fit. For example, do outspoken people not fit in? Unfortunately, the negative tends to attract more attention than the positive.

Assessing fit can and should be considered in each of the critical stages of the hiring process:

* Sourcing and recruiting of potential candidates: Revealing the organization's culture as part of the sourcing and recruiting efforts allows potential candidates to self-select (in or out).

* Preliminary evaluation of candidates: The preliminary evaluation of candidates is enhanced through intentional consideration of their fit with the more defining elements of an organization's culture--those elements that really stand out.

* Final evaluation of qualified candidates: The final evaluation of candidates is frequently left to the "gut feeling" of potential supervisors and colleagues. While they may share with one another the desire for hiring a person who fits the organization, they may not necessarily share an understanding of how that fit can best be determined. Evaluating fit with any consistency can be a daunting task.

Visit the Detroiter Online at www.detroitchamber.com for a suggested reading list on this topic. Click "Detroiter" on our home page and go to the May issue.

Damian Zikakis is an associate in the Executive Search Group at Plante & Moran in Southfield, a Bronze-level member of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Human Resources
Author:Zikakis, Damian
Publication:Detroiter
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:484
Previous Article:First impressions: skip 'gut instincts' and do the legwork.
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