Hiring a new executive is a difficult task. This person is going to have a significant impact on the organization. As a new hire, they can bring fresh thinking and innovation or create inner turmoil and decrease productivity. These hiring decisions should not be taken lightly. What most CEO’s and HR departments don’t realize is that there is one trait they should look for over all others and that is cultural fit.
No one looks forward to the process of hiring a new VP, C-suite, or Board member. Finding the right person takes time, energy, and money. Many companies would rather get someone who is “good enough” in place rather than invest the time in finding the right person who has not only the job skills, but is also the right cultural fit.
This mentality is more damaging to the business than they realize. Hiring the wrong person is an expensive mistake. You may get someone in the role more quickly, and if you’re lucky, they’ll work out. Unfortunately, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) report, half of outside executive hires fail within the first 18 months on the job.
The reason they fail is that they don’t work well with the people on their teams. Screening for culture fit is the most important aspect of hiring a new executive. As noted by HBR, “…a new executive arrives at the organization, and a mismatch between his work style and priorities and those of his new colleagues, together with his inability to tap into informal and formal sources of organizational power, prevents him from being as effective in his new role as he was in the last. Within months, he is excluded from key networks and loses valuable information and leverage, quickly reducing his chances of succeeding. Isolation starts the downward spiral of underperformance.”
This can be avoided by focusing on finding the right right culture fit from the outset of the search. At Sheer Velocity, culture fit is part of our DNA. In HBR’s report, they delineate general culture fit and a more specific ‘network fit’ that is more specific to work with team members. Regardless of the terms you use, the underlying element is to align the candidate’s leadership style with the company’s management philosophy.
Our focus on culture at Sheer Velocity begins with our clients. As a trusted partner, we work with you to define your executive processes, create your executive playbook, and refine any areas that require clarity. We work with Hogan Assessments to administer industry accepted personality and leadership assessments during the interview process to help find the perfect fit.
Working with an industrial psychologist, we also developed our own proprietary Cultural Alignment Survey. Our Cultural Alignment Survey is taken by both the hiring organization and every candidate. It is designed without a center null value, or as one adept client put it, “you can’t push on any of the questions.” The goal is to understand if there are any gaps that could indicate an issue down the road of misalignment and to have a dialog around those topics. Per Managing Partner Debra Young, “Culture fit is absolutely critical to an executive’s success in a new organization. Our process is meant to create authentic conversations between two people. It goes beyond a score on a page. It’s about understanding where the other person is coming from and determining if there is common ground.”