May 1, 2023 | Hiring Tips for Managers

4 P’s of Cultural Fit

Lack of cultural fit is the cause of many less-than-ideal hiring situations. Sometimes a person feels like they just don’t belong at their job. Sometimes working with a team member reveals that they just aren’t a fit for the team.

The Importance of Cultural Fit

If you’re a hiring manager, you may have hired someone in the past and quickly realized they weren’t “a good fit” for your organization. We can talk about cultural fit in a lot of different ways. In this article, we will evaluate cultural fit through the lens of the 4 P’s of cultural fit.

1. Pace

The first aspect of cultural fit is pace. Pace is the speed at which your team operates. Agencies are generally “fast-paced” while larger companies are “slow-paced.” However, this is not always true. Determine the pace of your particular organization.

Decide how many simultaneous projects one person should be able to handle. Consider the timelines associated with those projects in order to effectively determine the necessary velocity at which work gets done. As a hiring manager, be honest about the pace of your company. Pace isn’t just about ability, it can also be about preference. Some people will be more energized in a high velocity work environment. Some people will be more energized by a slower, more methodical environment. Avoid hiring the wrong person by clearly communicating the pace of your organization and assessing candidates accordingly.

2. Process

The second aspect of cultural fit is process. Process is the means by which a team makes decisions in the course of conducting business. Entry-level team members typically operate based on what a manager directs them to do.

As team members gain more experience, they generally have the opportunity to make more decisions and further set the course of their own projects. However, it is usually the hiring manager that dictates the process by which decisions are made. Sometimes, hiring managers look for drivers (people who make and implement the majority of decisions). Sometimes hiring managers look for navigators (people who give significant input but don’t make the majority of the decisions). Other times, hiring managers look for passengers (people who implement decisions but have very limited decision making authority).  Understanding how a manager directs their team, and the specific role you are hiring, will determine the success of the hire.

3. Philosophy

The third aspect of cultural fit is philosophy. Philosophy is how opportunities and challenges are approached in the course of conducting business.

Firstly, be honest about yourself and your team. Then, decide if the team is more pragmatic or more idealistic. A pragmatist in a team of idealists will lose their minds, as will an idealist in a room of pragmatists. Most are successful somewhere in the middle, but tend to be biased toward one side or the other. Understanding where on the pragmatic/idealistic continuum the new hire needs to be will greatly increase your opportunity for a successful hire.

4. Play

The final aspect of cultural fit is play. Play is about team-building, bonding, and the work that is done outside of the business day. Some teams work late hours together, whereas other teams go home as soon as the workday ends. I have one hiring manager whose whole team goes to to the gym to workout at lunch. If you miss your workout, you miss impromptu conversations that are often important to your work. Some teams are friends and go out together after work. Some teams are work friends only and go home to a full plate of responsibilies that leave little time for interaction outside of work deadlines and responsibilities. 

As a hiring manager, determine how your team approaches team-building and bonding. Activities and volunteer pursuits listed on a person’s resume can lend some insight into their “play”.

Final Thoughts

Companies are strengthened when they clearly define their culture and hire according The Four P’s: Pace, Process, Philosophy, and Play. Hiring managers: consider cultural fit when making hiring decisions. Candidates: set yourselves up for future success by asking the right questions in order to determine your cultural fit in an organization. Both companies and employees benefit when cultural fit is considered and understood. For more information on the 4 P’s of Cultural Fit, contact us.

Posted by Mark Whitman

Mark Whitman is the founder of TeamBuilder Search. Mark’s mission is to help clients recruit the top five percent of digital marketing executives, taking great satisfaction in helping clients out-recruit their competition. In the process of fulfilling his mission, he takes great care to help digital marketing leaders elevate their careers. People say Mark owns a recruiting and staffing company. He says he owns a life improvement company. To learn more about Mark visit our Leadership page.
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