Get Fit!

Fit is everything.

If you’re building a building it better fit on the site, it better fit in the neighborhood, and the systems better meet the needs of the inhabitants.

If you’re providing patient care the new knee better fit, the blood better match, and the drug better fit the disease.

If you’re manufacturing a product part A better fit with part B, the supplier timeline better fit with yours, and your logistics better fit with your customer’s needs.

Well, what if you’re adding a person to your team?

The person better fit with the job, the person better fit with you, and the person better fit with the team.

We hear this phrase ad nauseum: “Hire for skills and fire for behavior.”

I actually hate the phrase “ad nauseum.” You know, if it makes you sick then why don’t you do something about it?

So let’s try to do something about this problem.

Fit is everything.

Fit With the Job

Unfortunately the job itself never gets to do the interview. The job knows exactly what it needs in a human being. The best we can do is listen to the people who do the job right now. The usual way we listen is by including the incumbents in the interview process.

Certainly this is better than nothing, but everyone brings their own biases and filters to an interview. A far better way to get their input is a meeting in advance where the right people identify the ideal behavioral and motivational attributes that the job calls for.

Notice I didn’t say what kind of person they want. The focus is on what the job calls for.

Fit is everything.

Fit With You

Next is an understanding of how the final candidate fits with the boss. The normal human tendency is to hire people like ourselves. Their own natural behaviors then affirm to us the rightness of ours. It can be a fatal mistake.

A successful football team doesn’t field 11 quarterbacks. And if you pay any attention to football you know that a quarterback is likely to have a different personality from a center who is likely to be different from a wide receiver.

But if the athlete fits the job then it becomes the coach’s responsibility to see those differences and manage accordingly.

So if we want the candidate to fit well with you we need to know something about the genetic tendencies of both the candidate and the boss. That person who doesn’t quite blow you away in the first interview might very well bring the different mix of views and attitudes that your team needs to broaden its perspective.

Fit is everything.

Fit With the Team

Finally the candidate and the team need to know about fit. Fit doesn’t mean we agree on everything. Fit doesn’t mean we exhibit the same behaviors or have the exact same interests or drive. Fit doesn’t mean the new person should make me feel comfortable. In fact fit can mean being different on purpose.

If everybody on the team sees the world or the competition or the marketplace the same way then we sit in the room together, we agree on the correctness of our strategy, we congratulate each other on how smart we are, and then leave the room totally blind to the things we miss.

We are ignorant of our ignorance. It can be a fatal mistake.

At the same time if we don’t have a language we can use to explain and understand our differences then they can become a source of conflict rather than a source of creativity and growth.

So fit with the team means does this person bring something we lack, do they add a new ingredient to the mix, can we meld their new with our old and end with up with something better than we had before?

Fit is everything.

Why Bother?

Here’s a little management math for you:

The cost of a hiring mistake is expressed as a multiple of a person’s salary and that multiple increases exponentially relative to the person’s rank within the organization.

Here’s another one:

The time of integration of a new team member is inversely proportional to the time invested up front in cultural assessment of candidate, supervisor, and colleagues.

We ought to work desperately on fit because it represents money and time.

And then one more fabulous thing happens after that: stability.

The wrong hire can cause people to hit the exits in a hurry.

The right one gives them another reason to stay.

Money. Time. Stability.

Fit is everything.

Get Fit

It’s not complicated. We want the right person with the right skills, the right behaviors, and the right motivators added to the right boss, the right team, and the right organization.

You get a culture by default or design.

This is America where people have choices. So you get to choose. And you get to live with the consequences.

Fit is everything.

Ken Smithmier is a Senior Consultant with Ryan Search & Consulting.  He recently moved to the Nashville area after a career in Healthcare leadership in the Midwest.

Ken spends time with individuals and organizations helping to find the right “fit” for leaders.