The	  Importance	  of	  Cultural	  Fit	  	   	   	   	   	   and	  Related	   C ase	  Studies                             ...
A search firm’s perspectiveOf	  course,	  technical	  aptitude	  and	  appropriate	  experience	  are	  essential	  for	  ...
Results	  of	  a	  strong	  cultural	  fit:                                                   Results	  of	  a	  poor	  cul...
Case	  Study	  IIOur	  client	  is	  a	  non-­‐profit	                                                   Therefore,	  he	  ...
Case	  Study	  III  Our	  client	  is	  a	  general	  contractor	                                                         ...
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Importance of Cultural Fit & Related Case Studies


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In a recent study, new employees were deemed as "bad hires" due to attitudinal reasons 89% of the time. This article discusses why evaluating a candidate's attitude and how well it matches an organization's culture is critical to that individual's potential to become a high performer. Related case studies highlight recent placements that demonstrate the exceptional value of a strong cultural fit between candidate and client.

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Importance of Cultural Fit & Related Case Studies

  1. 1. The  Importance  of  Cultural  Fit             and  Related   C ase  Studies ~Wesley  R.  Miller  and  Sami  L.  BarryFor  most  organizations  and  hiring  managers,  it  may  not  be  surprising  to  learn  that  a  recent  study  revealed  that  newemployees  were  deemed  as  “bad  hires”  due  to  attitudinal  reasons  89%  of  the  time.    Factors  such  as  coachability,  emotional  intelligence,  motivation  and  temperament  prevailed  over  the  importance  of  technical  skills  in  the  success  of  new  hires  (see  chart).This  research  is  highlighted  in  Mark  Murphy’s  new  book,  ‘Hiring  for  Attitude’.    Murphy  is  Chief  Executive  Officer  of  Leadership  IQ  and  his  findings  were  based  upon  a  survey  conducted  by  his  company  over  a  3-­‐year  time  period  of  5,247  hiring  managers  from  312  public,  private,  business,  and  healthcare  organizations  who  collectively  hired  more  than  20,000  employees.        Although  his  book  has  been  reviewed  as  “eye-­‐opening”,  Murphy  himself  did  not  create  the  concept  of  attitudinal  (cultural)  fit.    But  the  information  he  presents  confirms  what  most  believe  –  that  cultural  fit  is  extremely  important  when  selecting  candidates  who  can  potentially  become  high  performers. Why  New  Hires  Fail %(#$ !"#$ )*+,-+./0/12$ %%#$ 3*1/4+1/*5$ 67*1/*5+0$851900/:95,9$ ;9,-5/,+0$<=/00>$ %&#$ !#$ ;97?9@+7951$ Source:    Leadership  IQ  2008Candidate  characteristics  that  determine  a  cultural  fit  include  many  dimensions  such  as:       ‣ Work  style ‣ Temperament ‣ Professional  motivation ‣ Personal  and  professional  characteristics       ‣ Attitude  fit  with  their  direct  report  and  with  the  entity’s  overall  environment,  values  and  its  way  of  doing  business.    It  is  only  with  these  matches  that  a  new  employee  will  have  the  opportunity  to  fulfill  their  potential  and  become  a  high  performer  within  an  organization.
  2. 2. A search firm’s perspectiveOf  course,  technical  aptitude  and  appropriate  experience  are  essential  for  a  new  hire’s  ability  to  perform  in  a  role  but,  from  Leadership  IQ’s  findings,  it  is  obvious  that  what  makes  a  new  hire  a  great  fit  and  increases  their  chances  of  excelling  is  their  attitudinal  match  with  their  employer’s  culture.    Helbling  &  Associates  understands  the  importance  of  a  strong  cultural  fit,  believing  that  it  is  of  paramount  importance  to  attract  and  secure  candidates  whose  attitudes  and  motivations  reflect  that  of  our  clients’  structures,  cultures  and  roles.    Only  by  having  a  strong  match  between  these  factors  will  a  candidate  have  the  ability  and  opportunity  to  strengthen  and  significantly  impact  the  organization  and  succeed  within  its  culture  as  well  as  to  enhance  their  own  careers.Wes  Miller,  Managing  Consultant  with  Helbling,  explains  that  in  many  of  the  firm’s  searches,  cultural  fit  can  actually  outweigh  technical  capabilities  when  it  comes  to  the  selection  of  final  candidates.    Miller  says,  “certainly  a  candidate  needs  to  have  the  appropriate  technical  skills  and  experience  for  a  role  but  it  is  their  intangible  qualities  that  make  them  a  true  fit  with  our  client.”     Jim  Lord,  Managing  Director  of  Helbling,  explains  “at  a  certain  level  of   position,  most  people  are  high  performing  and  diligent  workers  so  it  is  their   attitude  and  cultural  fit  that  make  them  successful.    A  bad  cultural  fit  can   actually  make  great  people  underperform.    Just  look  at  the  number  of  CEOs   who  fail  within  one  or  two  years.    At  that  level,  the  technical  abilities  are  a   given  and  it  is  the  attitudinal  fit  that  makes  it  work.” Miller  says,  “new  skills  and  techniques  can  be  taught  but  it  is  nearly  impossible   to  train  someone  on  attitude  and  culture.    This  is  especially  true  if  the   professional  has  ten  or  more  years  of  experience  as  younger  professionals  are   more  moldable  in  both  attributes.    It  is  also  important  to  note  that,  typically,  a   true  match  is  not  evident  until  a  candidate  has  been  with  our  client  for  at  least   six  months.    It  takes  at  least  that  amount  of  time  for  the  individual  to  transition   fully  into  their  new  role  and  into  the  client  company.”     Hiring  managers  are  not  the  only  ones  who  understand  the  impact  of  a  strong   cultural  fit  as  high-­‐caliber  professionals  are  aware  of  its  importance  as  well.     These  upper-­‐tier  candidates  do  not  look  for  an  average  job.    They  seek  roles   within  an  organization  where  the  culture  matches  their  personality,  enhancing   their  opportunity  to  become  a  high  performer  and  thrive  within  its  structure   and  environment.    Before  accepting  a  new  position,  they  have  to  feel  an   attraction  to  the  company’s  culture  and  they  want  to  understand  what   differentiates  the  company’s  low  performers  from  its  high  performers.    All   candidates  who  are  highly  motivated  in  their  professions  want  to  be  in  an   environment  where  they  can  grow  and  can  contribute  their  ideas  to  assist  in   the  company’s  success.    
  3. 3. Results  of  a  strong  cultural  fit: Results  of  a  poor  cultural  fit:➡ Smoother  candidate  transition ➡ Longer  transition  period➡ Reduced  time  to  productivity ➡ Delayed  time  to  productivity➡ Increased  engagement ➡ Decreased  engagement➡ Enhanced  opportunity  to  become  a  high  performer ➡ Limited  opportunity  to  become  a  high  performer➡ Lengthened  tenure ➡ Shortened  tenure ➡ Potential  to  cause  serious  issues  and  challenges  for   both  candidates  and  company  (especially  when  the   individual  is  in  a  senior  executive  position)Following  are  case  studies  prepared  by  Helbling  consultants  of  select  recent  placements  that  entailed  exceptionally  strong  attitudinal  and  cultural  fits.    Within,  we  highlight  the  challenges  that  our  clients  were  contending  with,  their  objectives  of  securing  ideal  professionals  and  how  finding  candidates  whose  attitudes  matched  their  organizational  culture  made  all  the  difference.Case  Study  I    Our  client  is  a  higher  education   contractors  and  subordinates.    That  point  was  reiterated   in  speaking  with  other  references  who  suggested  that  the  institution  known  for  its  medical   candidate  could  be  demanding  of  others.    They  explained  education,  and  biomedical  and   that,  in  regard  to  subordinates,  some  react  to  his   aggressive  attitude  positively  while  others  do  not.  clinical  research.    It  retained  Helbling  to  secure  a  Senior  Director   After  discussing  these  comments  with  our  client,  they   made  the  decision  to  hire  this  candidate  believing  that  his  of  Facilities  Management.    Our  client  was   personality  and  approach  were  necessary  to  deal  with  the  experiencing  challenges  within  its  facilities  department   institution’s  facilities  challenges  and  to  improve  the  such  as  severe  inefficiencies,  decreased  productivity  and   department’s  inefficiencies.    Shortly  after  this  executive  low  accountability,  all  resulting  in  poor  employee  morale.       began  his  employment,  he  terminated  employees  who   were  underperforming  and  he  had  individuals  quit  This  was  our  first  of  several  engagements  with  this  client.   because  he  was  implementing  “too  much  work”  while  Toward  the  end  of  the  search,  the  client  had  a  difficult   others  embraced  the  changes  he  was  making.    He  decision  to  make  as  they  narrowed  the  search  to  two   improved  efficiencies  in  a  short  time  frame,  retrained  candidates  who  not  only  had  different  backgrounds  but   staff,  increased  accountability  and  even  implemented  a  also  had  different  personality  strengths  and  attitudes.     hands-­‐on  capital  construction  program  so  that  the  One  was  well  qualified  and  had  a  collaborative  approach,   institution  could  perform  many  of  its  own  projects.    All  of  an  outstanding  reputation  for  her  ability  to  work  with   these  changes  boosted  employee  morale  and  enhanced  people  and  excellent  chemistry  with  our  client.    With  all  of   engagement.her  positives,  we  believed  our  client  would  select  her  for  the  position.    Another  candidate  was  also  highly  qualified   Although  we  were  initially  concerned  about  this  with  twenty  years  of  experience  in  increasing  levels  of   executive’s  cultural  fit  with  our  client,  five  years  later,  it  responsibility  within  facilities  management.    While  his   turns  out  that  he  was  exactly  what  our  client  needed  in  background  was  ideal,  we  were  unsure  of  his  potential   terms  of  his  experience  and  his  personality.    During  a  cultural  fit  with  our  client.     follow  up  call  with  our  client,  they  expressed  that  there   had  been  tremendous  waste  over  the  years  and  the  This  candidate’s  references  spoke  highly  of  his  strong   executive  turned  the  program  around  almost  technical  knowledge,  integrity,  honesty  and  strict   immediately.      attention  to  detail.    One  reference  expressed  that  the  candidate  is  the  type  of  person  who,  if  he  promises  that  a   In  the  University’s  Annual  Report  a  year  after  the  project  is  going  to  be  built  on  time  and  within  schedule,   executive  began  making  changes,  there  was  a  statement  you  could  bet  your  life  on  it.    Another  reference  expressed   within  it  saying  that  the  institution’s  infrastructure  that  the  candidate  had  a  unique  personality  and  is  a  good   improvements  and  campus  beautification  had  instilled  an  person  to  have  working  for  you  if  you  want  to  aggressively   increased  confidence  among  its  community  about  its  get  things  done  as  he  is  not  always  easy  on  consultants,   viability  and  competitive  edge  going  forward.
  4. 4. Case  Study  IIOur  client  is  a  non-­‐profit   Therefore,  he  has  experience  working  in  both  profit  and   non-­‐profit  environments  and  he  understands  the  nuances  organization  that  manages  and   of  both.    He  mentioned  during  interviews  that  the  change  maintains  a  national  historic   from  one  environment  to  the  other  can  be  dramatic  but   that  he  thrived  in  both.    landmark  under  contract  with  the  local  municipality’s  Parks  &   He  has  extensive  experience  implementing  new   technologies  and  is  motivated  by  analyzing  challenges,  Recreation  Department.    It  was   developing  initiatives  and  implementing  those  solutions.    seeking  a  Vice  President  of   His  many  positive  intangible  attributes  include  his  high   level  of  patience  and  understanding  of  how  to  slowly  Operations  Management  who  would  add   implement  change  management  over  time.  support  and  assistance  to  the  individual  currently  in  this  role.    The  position  is  responsible  for  directing  the  daily   Upon  joining  our  client,  the  executive  understood  that,  to  operations  of  the  organization  and  for  the  overall   successfully  achieve  his  objectives,  his  priorities  were  not  administration  and  business  performance  of  the   only  to  learn  his  new  role  and  the  organization’s  Operations,  Horticulture,  Technical  Services  and  Visitor   environment  but  to  develop  relationships  with  his  Services  Departments.    Our  client  wanted  an  individual   colleagues  at  all  levels.    He  knew  that  people  would  be  who  could  act  as  a  strategic  partner   skeptical  of  him  and  would  wonder  if  with  the  President  and  Chief   their  roles  would  change  or  even  be  Financial  Officer  (CFO)  and  who   eliminated.  In  a  short  timeframe,  he  could  enhance  and  expand  the  role   was  able  to  develop  a  strong  rapport  within  its  organizational  structure.     internally  and  quickly  earned     people’s  respect  and  trust.    One  of  the  positive  aspects  about  our  client  and  a  significant  dynamic   Over  the  past  year,  the  professional  of  the  search  is  that  its  team  is  a   has  made  a  smooth  transition  into  close-­‐knit  group  with  most   his  new  role  and  has  been  working  employees  having  worked  together   closely  with  department  leaders  in  for  an  extended  period  of  time.    This   developing  and  managing  an  effective  team  consisting  of  made  personal  chemistry  with  candidates  very  important.     directors,  field  supervisors,  support  staff,  professional  They  knew  that  someone  who  offered  a  fresh  perspective   consultants  and  contractors  that  will  support  future  goals  and  new  ideas  could  add  strength  to  their  executive  team   of  the  department  and  the  organization  as  a  whole.    He  but  were  uncertain  they  could  find  someone  who  was  a   has  implemented  fiscal  policies,  reporting  protocols  and  good  technical  fit  as  well  as  a  strong  cultural  fit.   expenditure  controls  within  operations  that  have  included   consolidating  its  vendor  database  and  reducing  Working  closely  with  the  President  and  CFO,  the  search   administrative  overhead  thus  streamlining  the  progressed  smoothly  and  we  presented  candidates  who   organization’s  procurement  and  vendor  payment  process.  all  possessed  the  appropriate  skills  and  competencies  and  who  were  very  intrigued  with  the  opportunity.    Having   Our  client  has  been  pleased  with  its  decision  and,  during  a  excellent  choices  of  candidates,  the  client  based  their  final   recent  follow-­‐up  call,  the  CFO  expressed  that  the  selection  on  personal  chemistry,  corporate  fit  and  the   executive  has  been  able  to  build  lasting  relationships  and  personal  intangibles  of  the  candidates.    Ultimately,  they   successfully  implement  new  processes  and  technologies.  chose  the  individual  who  they  felt  fit  best  within  their   He  went  on  to  explain  that  the  executive  not  only  family-­‐like  corporate  culture.   performs  his  responsibilities  admirably  but  that  he  adds   value  and  brings  a  dimension  that  was  not  there  before.    During  the  interview  process,  this  chosen  candidate  had    quickly  established  a  positive  rapport  with  the  current   During  a  recent  visit  with  the  candidate,  he  expressed  Vice  President  of  Operations  with  whom  he  would  be   that,  at  the  end  of  the  day,  he  and  his  colleagues  can  be  in  working  closely.    The  rest  of  the  executive  team  respected   a  room  together,  put  their  feet  up  and  just  work  through  and  appreciated  that,  and  in  combination  with  his  skills,   problems  and  issues.    They  have  become  a  family  and  they  referred  to  him  as  the  “complete  package”. they  enjoy  working  alongside  each  other  towards  a   common  goal.The  executive’s  background  includes  working  with  a  global  media  services  company  and  a  major  university.  
  5. 5. Case  Study  III Our  client  is  a  general  contractor   weeks  later,  the  President  created  an  executive    position   specifically  for  her.   who  wanted  to  more  effectively   leverage  the  experience  and  talent   A  year  and  a  half  later,  this  professional’s  unique  and   positive  demeanor  has  allowed  her  to  gently  suggest  and   of  its  executive  team.    Helbling  consultants   implement  changes  to  our  client’s  structure  and  mindset,   were  visiting  with  this  company’s  President,  a  long-­‐time   making  a  tremendous  impact  on  its  success  and  pursuit  of   acquaintance.    He  was  discussing  how  his  firm  has  a   target  vertical  markets,  its  marketing  and  business   progressive  culture  with  an  entrepreneurial  mindset.    Yet   development  strategies  and  other  vital  aspects  related  to   he  felt  that  he  and  the  executives  on  his  senior  team,  who   executive  management.   each  had  been  in  the  industry  for  more  than  25  years,   were  not  maximizing  their  capabilities  in  pursuing  the   Through  her  experience,  she  understood  how  certain   company’s  target  markets  of  healthcare,  higher  education   initiatives  could  make  a  short-­‐term  impact  on  the   and  civic  projects.   company’s  success  at  winning  projects  and  she  executed   them.    She  assisted  in  improving  the  impact  of  its   Understanding  the  industry  and  what  it  has  experienced   marketing  materials  by  capitalizing  on  the  executive   over  the  past  few  years,  our  consultants  empathized  with   team’s  strengths  and  abilities  to  build  complex  projects.     the  President  in  his  challenges  and  understood  his  issues   As  well,  she  changed  how  it  responds  to  RFPs  making  the   and  objectives.    We  knew  an  industry  executive  whose   process  much  more  comprehensive  and  solution  oriented.   background,  capabilities,  personality,  and  strengths  could   provide  the  dimension  and  insight  that  was  currently   As  a  result  of  her  suggestions  and  initiatives,  our  client   lacking  at  the  President’s  company.    We  were  very  familiar   has  been  awarded  diverse  and  challenging  projects  in  its   with  this  executive’s  career,  accomplishments  and   target  markets  that  exemplify  its  executive  team’s   reputation  as  well  as  her  personality  and  attitude.   strengths,  interests  and  capabilities  thus  significantly   boosting  employee  morale.    On  the  professional’s  part,   When  we  approached  this  executive  and  discussed  the   she  describes  the  role  as  motivating  and  inspiring  at  this   conversation  we  had  with  the  company’s  President,  she   point  in  her  career  and  feels  she  is  growing  professionally   agreed  to  meet  with  him  based  upon  our  firm’s   as  well. knowledge  of  the  construction  industry,  corporate   cultures  and  the  market.    Upon  meeting  with  the   With  her  capabilities  and  strong  cultural  fit,  this   President,  the  executive  was  attracted  to  the  idea  of   professional  has  brought  vision  and  strategic  thinking  and   working  for  a  young  company  that  was  still  moldable,   is  assisting  to  make  the  company  more  adaptable  and   where  her  skills  and  experience  would  allow  her  to  make   successful  in  the  changing  and  highly  competitive   an  impact  on  its  success  and  where  she  could  herself   marketplace. grow.    As  well,  her  attitude  and  passion  for  building  was   reflected  in  the  President’s  own  personality.    Several   About  the  Authors  -­‐    Wesley  R.  Miller  is  a  Managing  Consultant  with  Helbling  &   Associates.  Joining  the  firm  in  2005,  he  has  represented  contractors,  construction   managers,  engineering  firms  and  healthcare  and  higher  education  institutions.   Sami  Barry,  Strategic  Market  Development,  performs  various  marketing  initiatives   for  Helbling  and  she  has  been  with  the  firm  since  1994.   To  read  more  articles  about  talent  management  and  the  A/E/C  and  facilities  management  sectors,    subscribe  to   Helbling’s  quarterly  newsletter  and  blog  at: W:   h el bl i n g s ear c h . c o m B :   blo g. h elblin gs earc h . c o m F o llo w   us   o n   T wit t er :   @h elblin gs ear c h HELBLING & ASSOCIATES, INC. 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