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Celebrating 50 years of Building High Performance Corporate Teams - 1971 to 2021

As an Executive Coach and Career Consultant working with senior executives in the banking, insurance and media industries for the past 14 years, it has become apparent to me that “Fit” is perhaps the most important component of a successful career.

Yes, excellent technical competencies are obviously basic requirements of any position. And interpersonal and communication skills, both verbal and written, are immensely relevant. However, the most important – and generally the most elusive aspect is “Fit”. Will the individual fit in with the rest of the team? With the Leader’s basic values and perspectives? With the overall corporate culture? And even more quicksilver is the question as to how does one ascertain “Fit” within the context of the workplace, especially given the current and ongoing changing of the guard from Boomers to Gen X and especially Millennials.

It is a well-known axiom in the Career Consulting and Executive Recruitment industries that an overwhelming majority of employees (estimated to be in the range of 80%) exit organizations due to poor fit – either with the overall corporate culture or with a specific supervisor and/or team. Additionally, the costs associated with the termination of an employee, regardless of reason, are estimated to be double the actual salary component when all the related expenses including re-hiring for the position are taken into account.

So how do we address this hiring challenge and fix the underlying problem of poor fit? 

The answer resides in a perhaps unexpected quarter. I would suggest that corporate interviewers whether Senior Hiring Managers or HR Professionals generally have an excellent idea as to what they are looking for in terms of Employee FIT for any given corporate role. The real challenge is to get better at drawing out from candidates what they are looking for in an employment situation – and thereby substantially increase the degree of hiring accuracy. Here are some ways of doing just that.

1. Make effective use of psychometric assessments and personality questionnaires.

In my work whether within an executive coaching or a career transition context, I insist on having the individual complete both an MBTI personality questionnaire and a Facet5 psychometric assessment in order to uncover and explore the underlying values, and intellectual and emotional drivers that underpin career aspirations. As Abraham Lincoln noted, “If I had 10 hours to cut down a tree, I would spend the first 6 hours sharpening the axe.” This foundational work provides crucial insights for the finalist interview process.

2. Pinpoint the intersection between the Candidate’s values, aspirations and capabilities versus the Organizational team culture.

Having established the foundation, it is now time to ensure alignment. As old Abe noted, a house divided is bound to fall! So… it is imperative to ensure alignment between the individual’s values, capabilities and aspirations (uncovered in the Assessment process) and the organizational and specific team cultures, and the leadership style exemplified by the CEO and the immediate supervisor.

3. Encourage the Candidate to work candidly and effectively with the Recruiter or internal Hiring Manager to explore the degree of…Fit!

This is especially relevant when assessing and interviewing Millennials. This generation typically wants to be involved in the process from day one. Millennials, far more than their Boomer or GenX counterparts, expect and need to be highly involved in defining the nature of the challenge in their work, the potential for professional and personal growth, opportunities for working with colleagues they find personally interesting, and last and in some ways least, appropriate financial and related compensation for the work being done.

When one considers the nomadic nature of many Millennials, and their desire to work in organizations that accurately reflect and respond to their unique quest for meaning within a particular work context, it becomes apparent that seriously considering implementation of the above steps – which are still relevant for Boomers as well – is an overwhelming necessity as we move forward.