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Culture Fit - Just how important is it?

Considering culture fit – How far do you go?

You hired a software developer 5 months ago. They ticked all of the boxes, could code in the right languages and didn’t interview horribly. You were just grateful to have finally found one. But today, 5 months in, they’ve handed in their notice and they’re leaving. Their reason – ‘the environment isn’t commensurate with their development’. What they really mean? They don’t like working there, it isn’t what they thought, they haven’t settled in as well as they’d hoped. This is culture fit, and it’s a costly way of realising that whilst someone can do the job, can they do it here, for you, with your team, in your environment.

Sorry. I’m not trying to teach you to suck eggs. I know that you know what I’m talking about, but the example provides a good frame of reference as we delve into the ideas behind culture fit and how important it can be.

Culture isn’t an A, B, C or D choice. It’s the greyest of grey areas and new hires won’t sit perfectly within it. Often, individual departments have their own sub-cultures too. That’s often why recruiters will ask to speak with hiring managers directly. We know HR love to be in control, and they can be, but recruiters need access to the person who’ll manage the new hire in order to establish what kind of person is likely to be the best fit. A black and white person spec full of clichés like ‘working as part of a team or on their own initiative’ (so basically, just working then) or ‘highly motivated’ (because who’s going to say they aren’t) is going to help the recruiter find a person who can do the job sure, but it won’t help find the person who wants to do it for your business.

Let’s go back to the example above. That new hire could do the job but now they’re leaving. Let’s pretend (or not if I’m right, no judging here) that you’re old school and run your business like a military operation. Business dress, shiny shoes, early to work and late to leave, you know what I mean. Let’s also use the harmless stereotype that software developers are usually in a t-shirt and jeans, like to sleep in and do their best work when they’re most free, i.e. remotely, with music on and an endless supply of Rockstar energy drinks. I’m sure you agree, that your culture and that personality are not a good match. That doesn’t mean that you can’t hire software developers, this is where departmental culture comes into play. Allow the development team to work how they work best, for the benefit of your business. The same for your sales team, who probably do need to be in business dress and in the office to do their work. We’re all adults, we shouldn’t be getting jealous if another department can work differently to our own.

Recruiters, especially the better ones, want to build a great working relationship with you, so that every placement they make with you is a great one, where culture fit is considered and the placements therefore stick. Nobody wants an angry call after 5 months and the ensuing debate about rebate periods. Allow us to work with you, speak to hiring managers and get to know how you operate, it offers all concerned the best possible chance of successfully recruiting for the long-term.

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