The Perfect Culture Fit

April 18, 2021 Staff Writer

Everybody makes hiring mistakes. According to Psychology Today, 33 percent of newly hired people quit the job after only 90 days. Other new employees simply struggle on.

After a few months with a struggling new employee, you might have that sinking feeling that you have made a hiring mistake. Once you recognize that your staff member isn’t working out, what can you do about it?

It All Comes Down to Culture

I would argue that how well you hire new staff members arises directly from your culture because your culture drives everything that your organization does. Our definition of culture is the collection of words, actions, thoughts, and “stuff” that clarifies and reinforces what is truly valued inside an organization.

If extensive collaboration is a part of your culture, your team may not hire quickly. It takes time to get input from different stakeholders and make careful, calculated decisions. Even after an extensive vetting process, however, you can still make mistakes when it comes to recruiting and hiring. That means a lot of invested time with no return on that investment.

On the other hand, if your association values rapid decisions, you probably hire quickly. As your association innovates and grows, your culture requires that you respond as soon as the need is recognized. If the new hire doesn’t fit in well, your busy managers may hesitate to have difficult conversations or spend much time training because of the press of normal business. This means a bad fit might remain on the payroll for months or even years before you broach the topic of letting them go. 

Each of these approaches has positive and negatives, and neither guarantees that you always will make wise hiring decisions. So what can you do if you think you’ve made a mistake?

Take the Time to Analyze

The worst thing about having to fire an employee is the investment. It takes thousands of dollars to hire and onboard a new staff member. So, before you finally let a low-performing staff member go, it’s valuable to identify potential underlying causes of the performance issue and see if there’s a way to correct it.

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Consider the following possibilities:

  • Does your staffer lack the required skills, knowledge, or experience to do a part of the job? If so, can training or education solve the problem? Of course, if you need a surgeon and your new hire isn’t a medical doctor, short-term training won’t solve the problem. If, however, your team uses a particular coding language, it may be possible to teach a new hire to code in that language fairly quickly. Or it may take some time for someone coming from another industry to learn the details of yours.
  • Does your association’s culture value open, honest communication with its members? It may take someone coming from a culture that’s more reserved a little time to get used to sharing on social media or moderating a community. Likewise, if your new hire is used to sharing everything with members and your board wants senior staff to control the message, you might have a few initial moments of “too much information.” Neither approach is wrong, but moving between cultures can take some finesse.
  • Would your struggling employee shine in a different position? Think about your staffer’s strengths and weaknesses. Is there a role for them in a different department?

An effective manager is interested in building a team that allows its members to work at their best. That means hiring talented people who work well together, reducing conflict when they don’t, and keeping everyone focused on the success of the team and the overall business.

RELATED ARTICLE>> Why You Have to Deal with Your Internal Conflict

How to Fire Humanely

Sometimes, however, none of your strategies work, and you must let an employee go. Greg McKeown explains in a Harvard Business Review article that letting an employee go doesn’t have to be a shameful experience for either employee or manager, as long as you fire humanely. He writes:

This may seem like a contradiction in terms, but by “firing” I don’t mean the traditional, disgusting practice of marching people to the door in humiliation. It doesn’t mean taking people we have worked with and suddenly throwing them out as if they are criminals. We can do this in a humane way.

Honestly assessing the fit between a new employee and the association will ultimately help you and the employee. Admitting it’s not going well takes the pressure off and allows you to explore the best options for both the association and the employee.

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Once the decision is made to release an employee, helping that person transition into a new job with career counseling can help make the process much more effective. It also speaks loudly to your current employees about how you’ll treat them in difficult situations.

Coaching Can Help

You know how expensive turnover can be, so use your budget wisely to help make your staff members and your association successful. Business coaching may be a new, but vital, part of your strategy. It can help improve strategy, execution, and culture all at the same time.

Coaching can help your employees excel at all levels. Our coaches can work either with individuals or with the whole management team. The group process involves a series of monthly calls (and quarterly deep dives) to work through strategic topics. Group level coaching also includes an Align online dashboard tracking and reporting process against goals so everyone can see their efforts producing results in real time.

If you have questions about business coaching, we are here any time. Our culture-driven coaching program gives you actionable strategies you can use today to build a more dynamic and agile learning organization. Find out more about business coaching.




Photo by Markus Spiske