I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard IT, but it’s enough to have at least a couple of milk jugs full of nickels if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard IT. What is “IT”? It’s the idea that a hiring manager, executive, or coach has to bring someone onto their staff who doesn’t quite fit their values, but they believe that they have a culture that will shape the one joining the team into the team member they want. This is no doubt, a red flag that you’re looking at the wrong side of culture. Skills can be taught and learned, but someone’s personality is set in place.
I’ve heard it often with companies who are desperate to find someone to fill their job opening. They need that extra set of hands to hit the deadline, so they hire someone with the skills, although there are concerns that they won’t play well with others. You hear it throughout professional sports, of an athlete who comes in with a troubled past, but they sign him to the team because they believe that they have the leadership in the locker room (or the culture) to make this guy do what no one else has been able to do. They bring him in because he produces results on the field, but there is tremendous concern about his influence on the overall program. And like a sweater that keeps knitting and knitting and knitting, the one who doesn’t fit either gets fired, gets released, or makes everyone else want to leave.
When you make a hire based on skills over personality, you are looking at your culture from the wrong side. People make the culture, culture doesn’t make the people. Maybe go back and read that last line again. Certainly culture can influence, shape, and move things, but it all begins with the people who are in place to develop that culture. One of the greatest ways to dismantle your organization’s culture and work- force morale, and not to mention your overall production, is to hire people who don’t already fit the culture. So you have a braniac who has all the skills to find solutions, but he can’t communicate effectively with your team or your customers? How’s that working for you? He may be working for you, but more than likely, it’s at the expense of the overall momentum, effort, and mental well-being of the team.
If you want a culture of friendly people in your customer service department (which I would highly recommend), then hire friendly people who either already have the skills or display the ability to learn them. Don’t hire the one who has all the skills but only smiles at pictures of dead puppies.
Build and protect your culture by hiring people who ALREADY have the personality traits that you want, then train them as necessary for the skills they need. Wait for the right person…even when you’re desperate! Of course, it’s a big win if you can get the teammate who has the personality AND the skills required.
Your culture is your brand, so hiring the right people protects your culture…and the future of your brand!