Hiring For Cultural Fit: The Key Question is – Can I Be Objective?

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Dec 19, 2012

A few months back, Eric Sinoway wrote an article on about firing a top performer whose behavior wasn’t in line with the company culture.

Many of the comments that followed were predictably cynical about this approach. The main argument against firing people who don’t’ fit the culture is that culture is not an objective measurement and is often used to spitefully rid the organization of people someone doesn’t like.

While this may be the case, when culture is a key part of the business strategy, culture fit is absolutely important.

3 steps to make sure you are objective

At Zappos, for example, culture is the No. 1 priority for the company. If this is the case, why wouldn’t they be quick to fire someone who appears to affect the culture negatively?

There are a few ways to ensure firing “culture vampires” is an objective decision, rather than one made based on personal preference.

  • Establish a clear code of conduct. For culture to be a key strategy, the values for the basis of that culture must be clearly articulated and act as a code of conduct. At Infusionsoft, we hire, train and fire for these values. The values are included as part of our quarterly performance evaluations, which helps to keep the values and related behaviors top of mind as well as begin to identify behaviors that might be of concern.
  • Identify specific behaviors. With values included as part of the performance evaluations, you can begin to identify areas where things don’t quite line up. Does the employee regularly cut down colleagues in order to get ahead? Is the employee regularly accused of taking credit for the work or ideas of others? How does the employee behave when there’s a conflict with a team member? In a values-based culture, these questions will help to key in on how behavior might be affecting the company culture in a negative way.
  • Values trump performance. This is a tough one since most would argue that it should be the other way around. Again, it really comes down to the values and behavior. If you are truly committed to your company values as the basis for its culture, it’s important to support that by rewarding behavior and performance. Rewarding performance despite behavior that falls outside of the code of conduct — or the values — sends the message that performance is what is valued.

This originally appeared on the Infusionsoft Culture Corner blog. 

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