Have you ever hired a key leader who appeared to be a great fit for your team, only to find out too late that the fit wasn’t as good as it looked?
It happens a lot—they check all of the boxes—the right background, experience, qualifications and education, but after several months they leave your organization, either voluntarily or because you ask them to leave. What happened?
You had your team interview them, provided group interviews with their department, checked all of their references, and you verified their accomplishments, education, degrees and certifications, but the new leader just didn’t fit in with your team and your organization. So again, what happened?
At M&A Executive Search & Consulting we see this scenario unfold quite a bit more often than you probably think. What happened is the newly hired leader didn’t fit your organization’s culture. They tried to make a big splash and acted too quickly without getting buy-in from the team and stakeholders, without gaining any credibility and before they were accepted as a member of the team. The new leader operated like a secret agent in an open environment. They didn’t fully communicate what they were doing or why they were doing it. Simply put, they didn’t fit your culture of teamwork, they acted without gaining an understanding of your processes, procedures and the way decisions are made in your organization.
When a newly hired leader doesn’t fit your work culture, they often become frustrated because people are blocking their attempts to make changes and you and your team become disappointed because the new executive isn’t meeting your expectations. Often it becomes obvious that the new executive hire isn’t going to fit in and it’s frustrating for both sides when you realize you’ve wasted a lot of time, money and resources on a hire that just isn’t going to work out.
How can you prevent this from happening at your company?
The loss of time and money on an executive hire that doesn’t work out can be substantial—many companies just can’t afford to make a mistake when hiring for a key leadership position. The best way to keep this from happening is to make “culture fit” a high priority in your interviewing and hiring process.
The best way to do this is to, first and foremost, honestly examine and determine what your company culture is. Are you a team oriented company? Are you a fast acting and results oriented group? Is your company employee-focused and customer-driven? Is your team engineering-driven and scientific in your decision making? Are you a group of independent contributors or team players who collaborate?
One of the most important considerations when assessing your own company culture is determining exactly what that culture is—too many companies assume their culture is one thing, when the reality might be far different. It’s not only okay to admit that your company culture is a work in progress–that you’re still building toward your ideal culture–it’s essential to making your organization the best it can be and in making the correct leadership hires.
After you have determined your company culture, you need to formulate behavioral-based interview questions that align with the attributes, characteristics and personality traits that you are trying to find in your new leader. It helps to uncover not only what they accomplished, but HOW did they accomplish their successes. Do they give credit to their team or do they take all the credit themselves? Did they get the all-important buy-in in the decision making process? Is your prospective hire a leader or a follower? How do they resolve conflict? How do they communicate to team, peers, supervisors and customers (both internal and external)?
By asking the right questions and listening closely to the stories the candidates are sharing you can discover the culture the candidates prefer and whether or not they will fit your culture.
M&A Executive Global Search & Consulting has developed a proprietary assessment tool that we use to assess your culture and to assess any candidate’s preferred culture to ensure a good fit for your team. As we said at the top of this blog, you’d be surprised at how many companies hire leadership candidates who seem to check all the right boxes, only to find out that they’ve wasted too much time and money on a candidate who doesn’t fit their culture. We can help you avoid that scenario.