Dresser & Associates

A Question of Fit

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As a Human Resources professional, have you ever been in a situation where you have a job candidate that looks perfect for a position? He/she has the training, background, and experience to do the work. You hire the individual and he/she appears to be perfect at first, but over time it becomes obvious that he/she is not meeting expectations. What happened?

Another scenario: Perhaps you have two openings for the same position reporting to the same manager. You review resumes, conduct reference checks, and interview numerous candidates. You narrow the field down to 2 candidates of nearly identical training, background, and experience. You hire them both, and six months later you realize that one is performing at a significantly higher level than the other. How can that be? They have identical background and experience, and they both report to the same manager in the same division of the same company at the same time.

Stories such as these occur frequently in a wide range of companies and with regard to a wide range of positions. How is it that these individuals fail in their positions after such careful screening? Well, one distinct possibility is that their personality traits and characteristics do not fit the day-to-day demands of their positions. In other words, their personalities are not compatible with the positions they are in.

As it turns out, people have certain enduring tendencies to act in certain ways across a wide range of situations. Just think of your own tendencies and then compare them with the tendencies of your friends and acquaintances, and you will see what I mean. These behavioral tendencies are what we commonly refer to as personality traits. Now if you consider the personality traits of an individual on the one hand and the demands of a position in an organization on the other, and if you put the two together, there is a certain degree of fit or compatibility. And it has been shown that the better the fit, the better the performance, the more content the individual is in the position, and the less likely the person is to leave or be terminated. It is thus in the best interest of the individual and the organization for the fit to be as good as possible.

It goes without saying that most if not all companies are highly concerned with job performance and turnover. If so, it makes sense for them to maximize the fit or compatibility between their employees and the positions they occupy. Lack of compatibility is a frequent contributor to subpar performance and turnover. Maximizing compatibility can be an effective strategy toward improving performance and reducing turnover.

Bottom Line: If you and your organization are interested in impacting performance and turnover, take personality traits into consideration and take active steps to maximize the fit between your employees and the positions they hold.

Contributed by:

Kevin S. Hickey, Ph.D. Management Psychology

Posted in Human Resources, Recruiting, Talent management | Comments Off on A Question of Fit

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