What’s the Biggest Indicator That A New Employee Will Fail?

Mike Harden | | Resolving Employee Problems

We hire people all the time that appear to have the right skills, expertise, and experience to be great contributors to our company or organization. Then somewhere down the line, they seem to be struggling. Or perhaps they don’t get along with their fellow employees.  Whatever the case, it becomes painfully obvious that you might have to let them go. And you had such high hopes for them! They were really going to turn things around and make a difference.

What went wrong?

When CEOs are surveyed and asked to rate the biggest indicator of success for a new employee, they routinely say that if the new employee fits the culture, that person will succeed. If he/she doesn’t fit the culture, they are almost certain to fail. The CEOs say that culture is the #1 indicator, that expertise is #2, and that experience is #3.

Yet, when we interview a person for a job, what’s the first thing we look at? We check their resume for experience: Where did they work? What did they do? Then we try to ascertain their skills and expertise: What do they do well? What’s their area of expertise? Do they have any credentials?

Then, after figuring all of this out, we hire them and place them into our environment, and hope they fit the culture of our organization. So, even though we acknowledge that culture is first on the list, we relegate it to last place, AFTER the hiring is done. You think it might be too late at that point?

As CEOs and senior level executives, we tend to focus on what we think the person can bring to the table for us; what their contribution can be. We ignore the most important aspect… Do we even know if they fit our culture? Because if they don’t, the outcome is not going to be pretty.

This makes it imperative that we ensure our new hires fit our culture BEFORE they are hired, not after. We need to fully appreciate the impact our corporate culture may have on someone. If they are brash, innovative, or excitable, and our culture is laid back and easy going, how can we expect them to fit in? They will always be rubbing us and everyone else the wrong way. People will get upset with them and avoid them. That certainly hampers their ability to succeed, regardless of qualifications.

Or, what if they are easy going, timid, or reserved, and your company is an innovative startup with energetic innovators who like to kick a soccer ball down the hall to blow off steam?

You can’t force fit

I can go on and show dozens of contrasting personalities and cultures, but you probably have seen many of them yourself over the years. When someone doesn’t fit, it’s hard to get them to convert. At some point, they quit or you let them go. Such a waste of talent! And think of the lost opportunities.

In order to avoid having to deal with this situation, you owe it to yourself to make sure your new hires are cultural fits, long before they start working for you. You need to place them in the culture before you place them in the job. You need to ask cultural question (along with job-related questions) during the interview process. Under what conditions do they flourish? What bothers them? How would they react to a certain situation? Reference checks should also include questions about demeanor, behavior, and motivation. What makes this person tick? Under what conditions did they excel?

Don’t make the mistake of hiring a person because they look good on paper. In the long run, their skills and experience will have little impact on their success if they aren’t a match for your culture and its expectations. Always look at the “fit” first, because if that’s not there, then the other things won’t matter.

Mike Harden

Mike Harden has developed exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge over his 40+ year career as an entrepreneur, executive, teacher, mentor, and coach. Today, as one of DC’s premier Executive Coaches, Mike helps good executives become great leaders. Find Mike on Google+

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