June 15, 2008

Cultural Fit

Most HR professionals today recognize the importance of Cultural Fit. What is Cultural Fit? It becomes useful to first explore the broader concept of fit and the reasons why culture fit is particularly important.

Fit is typically defined in two ways:

• Job fit

• Organization fit.

Job fit refers to the degree to which the candidate’s skills and experience are
relevant to the job and the degree to which the candidate finds the role’s activities and responsibilities satisfying.

Organizational fit refers to the candidate’s compatibility with the organization’s values and mode of operation.

While organization fit covers a range of organizational attributes the most common and frequently cited element centers on the congruence between individual and organizational values. This is referred to as culture fit.

Research over the years has shown that individuals selected on the basis of culture fit will contribute faster, perform better and stay longer. In today’s business scenario knowledge, intellectual capital, individual and organizational qualities represent the competitive value proposition for most companies.

Culture fit cannot be developed in any individual. Provided someone fits into the organization, and demonstrates the ability to grow and develop, their knowledge and skills will change and grow over time. Values and motivations on the other hand are almost impossible to change.

Though most of the HR Managers understand the significance of Culture Fit, but the tight labor market often leads them to make decisions quickly and choose individuals who may not be right. Internally, they cite time pressures; lack of available tools, skills and resources as the reasons for not assessing cultural fit.

Assessing cultural fit is not as difficult as many would think. It requires establishing strong processes and tools that are understood and effectively practiced by all managers.

The first step is to secure the Top Management buying. This starts with demonstrating a sound return on investment.

The next step is to put in place sound and efficient processes that support the assessment of culture fit. This is where the HR function plays a critical role.

Finally, the individual’s rankings are compared with the organization profiles to identify areas of alignment and potential mismatch. This information is often carried forward to first or second interviews.

Recruiting for cultural fit is very important. Organizational culture today is being threatened by hiring processes. What is encouraging though is the recognition that the issue of culture fit is an important one. The HR function needs to take a strategic stance on the same.


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