The following article previously appeared in the St. John's Board of Trade, Business News, August / September 2015 issue.
The search has begun for a new leader. Your team wants someone with presence and profile, someone charismatic who is widely revered, and maybe someone who knows their way around a golf course. The wish list is likely long, but is it the best list to ensure “the right fit” for your organization?
We talk a lot about fit when recruiting. It’s something that is difficult to define. Often, companies incorporate attributes and factors that have little bearing on suitability or potential for success. Alternatively, they see ‘fit’ as synonymous with ‘another person just like us,’ which can narrow the candidate pool to the point where the opportunity to gain fresh perspectives is lost, not to mention unique or underrepresented skills and competencies.
My experiences working with corporations have made it clear that the best way to find the right candidate is to dig deep and determine what ‘perfect fit’ means to you and your organization. A good place to start is exploring what you are looking for in your new leader. Are you seeking a replacement, someone just like the last person who filled the mission-critical position, or would you be better served by a candidate whose skills align with your strategies for growth?
Given that your company is continually evolving, you should regularly evaluate and update the characteristics associated with your leadership roles. Consider involving stakeholders from across the organization in this process. Reflecting on your requirements and expectations for the new leader makes it easier to determine the qualities or capabilities that best suit the position.
Perhaps the most significant consideration when it comes to fit is cultural. This should not be confused with the broader definition of culture in today’s world, where the benefits of diversity are more widely recognized. Rather, cultural fit in this context occurs when candidates share the values and norms that are foundational to your organization’s vision and success. If customer service excellence and innovative solutions are critical to success, they should be equally valued by new leaders.
Fit is also influenced by our tendency to gravitate toward people who have experiences and interests similar to our own. But when fit is rooted in this type of affinity, it can limit inclusion of underrepresented groups, as demonstrated by the struggle women and minority groups have faced in working towards proportionate representation in the workplace. Since fresh perspectives drive innovation, consider the attributes you need for diversity, succession, and success. Then, reflect on how your corporate culture would resonate with new hires, as well as the cultural norms that should change to accommodate them.
There are no guarantees of right fit, but the tools you use to evaluate candidates can greatly enhance the likelihood of success. Consider psychometric assessments, 360 reference checks, and consulting with stakeholders to determine how well a candidate aligns with your corporate culture and goals. By adopting a more objective approach to recruitment, you reduce the risk of biases or past expectations influencing hiring decisions.
There is one other way to ensure that a candidate is the right fit: onboarding. The more you work with a new leader to outline expectations, clear hurdles and establish critical relationships, the quicker they can integrate into your workplace and start contributing to bottom-line results.
Ultimately, finding a new leader is a long-term investment that should be carefully considered and conducted. Golf skills may not be a factor, but with the right tools and effort, you'll recruit a leader who suits you to a tee.