As a training professional, you know the information new employees need to be successful in their positions. You train people to answer phones, speak to clients and complete tasks in ways that align with your company philosophy. However, if you have been in the business long enough, you have encountered new hires that just don’t fit. They interviewed well and picked up skills easily, yet they aren’t meeting their goals and are always away from their desk. Their managers look to the training department to resolve the conflict.
Fitting a Round Peg in a Square Hole
Often, the root of the employee problem is not lack of skill. Instead, it’s a mismatch between personal and company culture. Here are four tips to help you ensure culture fit between new employees and the company.
1: Write a Core Values Top 10 List
First, if you don’t have a short list of your company values, create one. Zappos is a great example of a company that knows its own culture. Its core values are simple and to the point and easily convey the company’s culture.
Writing your company’s core values will help you measure if a potential hire fits with your vision or not. First, determine who you are (and who you aren’t). Then, communicate these values to the employee to make sure they are aligned. Onboarding is an excellent time to reinforce your top 10 list.
2: Test Employee Values
Everyone who comes into your building has a set of deeply held beliefs. Measuring core values will help potential new hires determine if their values fit with the company and vice versa. If they align, wonderful! If they don’t, both the job seeker and the company save time and energy by recognizing they are not a good fit.
Ideally, this process happens in HR; however, if an employee who isn’t meshing well comes to you for refresher training, conduct a core values assessment. There are a variety of free online tests that can provide good data to assess culture fit. If you find that your values aren’t compatible, you can reassess your training approach and reinforce those values you find most important.
3: Ask Culture-Specific Questions
If you have a new hire who is struggling to meet their goals, chances are it isn’t because they are lazy or don’t want to be successful. More likely, the hire either does not understand or does not align with your company culture. If you believe cultural issues may be the underlying problem, consider doing a quick survey. Ask a few targeted questions, such as “At what pace do you prefer to work?” or “Do you like to work on duties that change frequently?”
If the employee tells you that they prefer to work slowly and deliberately, a fast-paced job is not a good fit. They may need to move to a position that aligns with their values. Once you know what the employee finds important, you can either reinforce the company’s needs for their position, or you can explore other options.
4: Reinforce Culture With Ongoing Training
It’s important to remember that training doesn’t happen overnight or even in the first couple of weeks. Effective training is a consistent and ongoing process. By developing that process, you’ll find it easier to train for and ensure cultural fit.
Remember to maintain open lines of communication with employees. Make sure they know they can come to you for guidance and with questions. Consider planning off-site and on-site teambuilding activities. These activities are a great way for new hires and existing employees to open up and get to know each other and their core values. By building this bond and trust among your team, you will notice an increase in motivation and productivity.
Hiring and training employees for cultural fit will make an enormous impact on your company success. If an employee is struggling, revisit your Top 10 Core Values list and test or re-test the employee to identify their values. Then, ask them culture-specific questions to understand what is going on. Chances are, the root cause of underperformance boils down to misaligned values or culture. Once you identify the problem, you can come up with a plan to get everyone back on track.