Workplace Culture

Dear Workforce What Are Some Techniques to Hire People Whose Personal Values Best Fit Our Company

By Staff Report

Sep. 7, 2011

Dear Fixated:


You are correct: The cultural fit between employee and the organization is an extremely important consideration. We have all had a job for which we had the skills and experience but were just not a “good fit.” Such situations often result in poor employee performance and/or turnover, both of which are costly for the employer.

During a down economy, employees who are a poor fit are way less likely to jump ship–and while this may reduce turnover, it also may perpetuate lower performance that eventually shows up in the bottom line.

So what steps can you take to ensure you hire employees whose values and interests jibe with the company? First of all, it is critical for your company to clearly understand its own culture. This requires a bit of soul searching.

This effort can be complex if yours is a larger company with many divisions and geographic locations. Each group within the organization may take on its own unique culture. In your search for a cultural identity, look at the enduring and stable things that the company values as a whole—and identify meaningful differences in these values across various branches or divisions.

Organizational culture has been studied by many different groups and has been defined in many different ways. Industrial psychologists have conducted decades of research aimed at defining organizational culture, the result being a set of relatively stable “work values” that define the aspects of work that are meaningful to an organization, based on the values of the individuals who constitute it.

Some of the most useful work has been performed by Jennifer Chatman, whose Organizational Culture Profile (OCP) identifies the following major dimensions:

• Innovation

• Stability

• Orientation toward people (fair and supportive)

• Orientation toward outcomes (results-oriented, achievement-oriented)

• Easygoing vs. aggressive

• Attention to detail

• Team orientation

The OCP uses these dimensions to measure fit via the following process:

First of all, a baseline for the organization’s culture is established. This is done by having members of the organization make ratings based on their opinions regarding which of the above dimensions they feel are most and least characteristic of the organization. These ratings are then aggregated to provide a profile that defines the organization’s culture in terms of these dimensions.

Second, an individual’s “personal value profile” is created. This process involves having individuals rank their own personal values (using the dimensions listed above) in terms of their most and least preferred work environment.

Finally, the individual’s ranking of the above work values is compared with the aggregate values profile created by the organization to summarize its culture. This comparison process yields detailed information about the overlap between the values of an organization (or one of its many groups) and those of an individual. These outcomes provide a data-based estimate of the fit between an individual and the group or organization.

As you can imagine, this information can be very useful for helping organizations make all kinds of important decisions. Perhaps the most important is within the hiring process. The work values that underlie cultural fit are relatively stable and enduring within individuals, so hiring people and trying to change their values does not often prove to be an easy task.

There are a number of different “fit” inventories available from pre-employment assessment companies, and it makes sense to look into these. When doing so, make sure to ask for the technical documentation that will demonstrate the measure has been created and evaluated using the proper scientific techniques.

SOURCE: Charles A. Handler, Rocket-Hire, New Orleans, August 13, 2009

LEARN MORE: Post-hire introductory periods provide a way to ensure people’s behaviors, attitudes and attributes actually dovetail with those of a company.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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