Cultural Fit be Damned! Hire the Whacko!: Revisited.

by Michael Haberman on September 23, 2019 · 3 comments

There is an article in the Wall Street Journal that says “employers should be aware of the dangers of hiring for cultural fit.” There are dangers of hiring everyone to fit into the culture. It makes the company homogeneous and that costs in creativity and innovation. Sometimes you have to ignore the fit and that reminded me of this post from 2014. 

Don't ignore the outlier hire.

Don’t ignore the outlier hire.

We have all known someone who didn’t fit in. Perhaps you were the one that didn’t fit in. Do people that don’t fit in ever find a place? Not always. But sometimes they start their own companies. And sometimes a company does find a place for them.

Innovation is the key to success for many companies today. But to be innovative you have to have someone that looks at the world slightly different, or really different, than the majority of the others. “Fit” does not usually produce new ideas.

If you are struggling think about hiring a disruptor. Someone who will come in an unsettle things. I don’t mean by being abusive or anything like that, rather they will come in and ask “why?” or “why not?” They will challenge assumptions. They may challenge authority. They will have crazy ideas. They will have crazy points of view. You will know you have been successful when everyone thinks you are crazy for hiring this person.

Here is a story of a company that hired way outside the bounds of the usual “fit.” The Case for Hiring “Outlier” Employees makes a very good case for why you look for different in order to stop being ordinary.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ira Wolfe January 23, 2014 at 8:59 am

When I read the lead paragraph, my first reaction was no way. Too many managers still hire on skills, fire on attitude. But the more I read the more I agree with you. If everyone on your team sees things one way, then the old metaphor comes true – you have a hammer so everything begins to look like a nail. Building a team with diverse points of views but shared purpose and values is the key. But managers beware! If you want managing people to be easy, hire people who are all alike. But if innovation and growth are important, then you need a diversity.


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