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The Ideas Distillery
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Fit with organisational culture vital for new employees

Making sure a candidate fits in with the culture of an organisation is just as important as job competence which hiring new employees.


Traditional selection tools – such as resumes, interviews and reference checks – are not particularly reliable when comparing a large range of candidates against core competencies or other selection factors.


The employer is often working on ‘gut instinct’ and relying on information provided by applicants. When 70% of job seekers admit they embellish the information they supply, and only nominate references they know will speak positively, these are clearly not reliable sources.


This traditional approach misses a fundamental ingredient: the assessment of the cultural or required core competency fit of the candidate. Cultural fits are paramount to establishing mutually beneficial, long-term employment and cost-effectiveness.


With one in four hiring exercises ending in failure, many employers are changing their approach to staff selection, moving away from questions ‘Where did this person study?’ and ‘How many years of experience have they got?’ towards questions such as ‘How quickly can they think on their feet’ and ‘What values are most important to them?’.


Cultural issues, as they relate to an organisation and the staff it hires, include the pace of work, the methods of communication and decision making, work patterns and the level of socialising between staff and management.


Required core competencies could include abilities in areas such as customer service, communication, leadership, team building, the ability to think strategically and the ability to motivate staff or team members.


Someone might have all the right skills, qualifications and experience for a position but are used to working in a highly structured environment with clearly defined lines of communication and authority. Now put that person in a position where they need to think on their own and make greater decisions for themselves and they may flounder and be unable to cope with situations that aren’t managed for them by others.


Attracting and keeping the right candidates is essential to building corporate success and developing your business, and the first step in preventing a bad hire is to establish the job requirements and job description – where the skills, knowledge and abilities and core competencies required to complete the job successfully are clearly defined and understood.


The job description must include the major tasks and performance outcomes, level of responsibility, identification of reporting relationships, the key positions with whom the employee will interact and communicate and how performance will be measured. Employees must fully understand what is required of them and how their performance will be reviewed.


In fact, employees generally respond well to guidelines, clear expectations and performance appraisals. Yet often, these elements simply do not exist.


While the thought of writing policy and procedure manuals, job descriptions and performance appraisals may be tedious and time consuming, they are essential to the success of any organisation.


Job descriptions also include information about working conditions, tools, equipment used, knowledge and skills needed and relationships with other positions.


The job description is not just important for finding the ‘right people’, but for understanding how ‘right’ they really are. Measuring performance based on the expectations and requirements outlined in the job description, particularly in the first 6-12 months, will highlight the adequacies of the organisation’s hiring practices.




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