Culture Fit Vs. Personality Match

Culture Fit Vs. Personality Match

The term “culture fit” is used with increasing frequency as more companies and teams begin to actually live out their values. In prior decades those values often hung on the walls of the office but never held true meaning. Today they are used to focus their employees and are used as a gateway to secure the newest generation of workers entering the workforce. 

But what culture is fit anyway? Many hiring managers and recruiters use the term generically when finding a reason not to bring on someone. Are you looking for someone that truly matches your culture and values or are you looking for someone that you would want to hang out with?

Focus on the right match

Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, shares several stories on how the company was successful in its early days of scaling up by looking for the right matches in unconventional places instead of staying in the traditional lanes of recruiting and culture fit. 

As I look back on my career, some of the best hires that I’ve had have come from unconventional places. Sometimes it was from a totally different industry and other times it was from a vastly different personal journey.  Focus on what the person values as well as their problem-solving ability and teachability. If those are aligned you are likely going to have an unstoppable team member join the group. 

On the flip side, I’ve hired some people that I thought would be a great fit personality-wise that ended up disappointing me both in their performance and their potential. Take the time to ensure that match is solid before advancing a future teammate. 

Mix personalities for the best teams

On the surface, it may seem like you want to align the personalities of the people with the leader for the best results. A study from Harvard Business Review suggests that the opposite may be true.  Introverted leaders were more effective at leading extroverts and extroverts were better fits for leading introverts. 

Introverted leaders were more likely to greenlight and support extroverts’ out-of-the-box thinking and ideas. Think about the dynamics here for a moment. A great introverted leader is reflective, thoughtful, strategic, and likely has good self-awareness. It brings balance to the extroverted team member’s approach and the introverted leader leverages the talents and passions of others that they don’t have.  When an extravert leads another extravert, they will sometimes compete for ideas, are more likely to push their own perspective, and may want more oversight into a project. 

My most successful teams were ones that were built very intentionally around bringing in other personality types, backgrounds, and life perspectives. We all held the same core values desire to meet our goals, but it wasn’t too uncommon for people on the team to have different reasons for wanting to get there. 

Check your culture

It’s good from time to time to step back and check your culture. Is your culture different from your values or mission? Is your culture wrapped around a personality type instead of a philosophical way on how you go about your business?

I hear the phrase, “We want good, high energy, people” often when I’m helping a leader or group build, or rebuild, a team. While great people are what we are all looking for, starting with a preconceived notion of what that person looks and acts like only limits your ability to find someone that truly fits the role. 

If you’ve seen the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, you know that that company’s culture is such a part of the movie that is its own character in the film. Driven solely by behaviors and personalities as opposed to the right fit. 

Avoid letting “culture fit” drive additional bias as you bring on new people. Your business and team will benefit as you bring in people that match your values while having a different perspective. 

Make a better tomorrow.