Australian recruiters find it difficult to recruit people who can gel with an existing team, a new survey says.
In a sporting-obsessed nation such as Australia, there is no need to dwell on the importance of team spirit. Yet it can be elusive. The sense of belonging, shared vision and drive – when it all comes together on the field or in the workplace, you just know that that is a great place to be.
Team spirit, as it’s defined in the workplace, is not the same as culture. It’s the successful dynamic that often underpins both culture and performance. So when a team member that works well leaves “the club”, finding a replacement who fits in is challenging.
How challenging? Well, recent interviews with 460 hiring managers found that 80 per cent of them had difficulty finding people to gel with an existing team. The research, commissioned by Robert Half Australia, found that the same percentage had had their fingers burnt by employing someone who didn’t work well in a team.
From these HR or hiring managers point of view, it was the inability of the hired candidates to work collaboratively that was to blame (45 per cent), or a lack of team spirit (43 per cent), or lack of adaptability (37 per cent) or just a straight misalignment with company culture (34 per cent). As a result, 40 per cent of the hiring managers said the best solution was to let the new hire go, which is an expensive recruitment mistake.
So what’s going wrong? Are the recruiters failing to assess properly or are the candidates simply lacking?
Avoiding a hiring misfire
“Successful hiring is about much more than finding someone who can technically perform the duties of the job in question; it’s about thoroughly assessing each candidate’s personality and soft skills to ensure they will positively contribute to the team dynamic – not detract from it,” says Andrew Brushfield, director of Robert Half Australia.
“Before making a final hiring decision, it’s therefore crucial managers find out whether a potential employee will fit well within their team and the overall company culture.”
Of course, all that is true, and while it is easy to blame the candidates for not having what it takes, a poor introduction or onboarding experience at the outset can quickly lead to failure as HRM has explored in a previous article.
So what can be done to be as sure as you possibly can be that this seemingly great candidate on paper is going to contribute well to the team? How can you avoid the pitfall of a poor decision?
Here are a few key tactics for HR and hiring managers when sourcing candidates and encouraging good team bonding:
1. Look for a cultural fit in the job interview
Looking for a good cultural fit with a prospective employee has a lot to do with who they are as a person. It’s basic interview stuff, but questions about their past workplace that try to capture when and how they thrived – or why they left – can help you discover what kind of management they’re best suited to. Then you have to ask if you can offer that management style. Because even if they’re a top candidate, if their needs don’t match your culture, you may run into problems down the line.
2. Listen to your instincts, but don’t be ruled by them
You should be wary of basic hunches. As HRM has reported on before, in interviews gut feelings don’t have a high degree of accuracy. That being said, if a candidate’s response feels off for whatever reason, further investigation is needed before making a decision. Asking referees about these concerns could provide clarity.
3. Encourage water cooler talk
While chatting about weekend plans may not directly contribute to the bottom line, it will help to bring employees closer together. Feeling understood can help any team out. Even workplace complaints and jokes have proven to be beneficial to employees – though this is not true across the board.
4. Assign a mentor
Just as at primary school, new kids are often assigned a playmate, give the new hire someone to bounce off. But perhaps the word “mentor” doesn’t indicate the right frame of mind. As HRM has written previously a “sponsorship” might work better. A mentor might show you the ropes of a new office, but a sponsor will empower you to start taking the lead more immediately.