Now that you’ve hired your talent, what happens next?

Last week we looked at an interesting case study, where Unilever had taken a novel approach to diversify its candidate pool for entry level positions, by automating most stages of the recruitment process.

We discussed:

  • what consequences this approach may have for diversity in hiring, and
  • that a conscious effort to identify and encode desired characteristics has potential to help organisations understand their own culture.
Executive Coach Exchange leader pixabay PaulLeng
How important is it to understand organisational culture when recruiting a leader?

This issue of understanding an organisation’s own culture is highlighted in this thought-provoking article by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Clarke Murphy.

The authors highlight the difficulty that organisations have in recruiting and promoting effective leaders, and link this to the difficulty that organisations have in identifying the most important features of their own culture.

This leads to a situation where even those organisations that have a good recruitment strategy – not relying too much on intuition over more valid selection tools – fail to look at whether their candidate’s qualities and skills are a good match for their organisation’s culture.  “As a result, too many leaders are (correctly) hired on talent but subsequently fired due to poor culture fit,” Chamorro-Premuzic and Murphy say.

The authors make the point – and we think this is a vitally important consideration in any effort to recruit a new leader – that “for most people, leadership potential will be somewhat context-dependent”.

A person who has outperformed in a previous role, with:

  • familiar structures,
  • a support framework, and
  • a clear understanding, built over time, of the organisation’s goals,

may easily flounder – in fact, could almost be expected to flounder – in a new and unfamiliar organisation.

If this leader has been recruited to undertake transformation in the new organisation, the task is doubly hard.

The authors identify 3 key areas where more work needs to be done in the hiring process to avoid the disruption and inefficiencies involved in repeated hiring and firing:

  • understand the organisation’s own culture;
  • decode the motives and values of their candidate to see whether these are a good fit for the organisational culture; and
  • where this is a desired outcome – be realistic about whether a new leader can change the organisational culture.

The authors recognise the difficulty that a new leader will have in reshaping organisational culture, and that, potentially, only a “moderate misfit” will have the time, inclination and personal attributes to do so.

The authors suggest objective measurement, including via well-structured climate surveys and crowdsourcing ideas from team members, to help organisations understand their own culture first.  This approach puts organisations in a strong position of self-knowledge, before either recruiting or beginning the transformation process.



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