An article published in the New York Times recently focused on the ways in which culture fit is being assessed within organizations for hiring purposes. The author made recommendations as to how a company can ensure that organizations are truly screening for culture fit vs. personality fit.
By putting great emphasis on culture fit as part of the hiring process, organizations can quickly find themselves in a “We are The Borg” situation. For those needing a refresher in Star Trek trivia, The Borg are a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones in a hive mind called the Collective (nerdy enough for you?). In other words, if companies place too much emphasis on characteristics like achievement orientation, innovation, and risk taking, they may soon find that too few people in the company are equipped to prevent a costly mistake due to the fast-paced decision making behavior that the company is promoting. This phenomenon certainly has drawbacks when it comes to maintaining a diverse workforce, not just demographically, but also in how people think and deal with workplace situations.
So, how does a company hire for culture fit but also ensure diversity in the workforce? The key is to pinpoint what behaviors are creating the culture (takes immediate action, collaborates with others, and focuses on the customer) vs. loosely defining culture fit using nebulous terminology (fast-paced, friendly, or customer-oriented). Once an organization can isolate the desired behaviors necessary to promote the values and sustain the culture of the company, assessing candidate and employee proficiency against these behaviors can ensure that the right competencies are being exhibited to accomplish organizational goals. By focusing on the behaviors rather than the characteristics of an individual, employers can side-step the “Borg” situation and bring aboard people with the right skills as well as varying perspectives and personality characteristics.