Monday, February 19, 2018

The One Thing That May Lead to Better Hires

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I spend a lot of time talking to business experts and leaders and the one thing I know for sure: No one knows for sure what the future will bring.

That’s not to say these very smart people don’t have a clue – but the marketplace is changing so fast sometimes that they’re not 100% confident that what worked in the past will continue to work – or if their company will even survive. (They don’t say that last bit, but enough big companies have died that you know they’re thinking about it.)

That’s why I thought some new research was so fascinating. In a nutshell, it says that companies that want to survive and thrive need to look for one key attribute in new hires: adaptability.

While companies like Zappos and Netflix have placed great emphasis on hiring workers who will be a cultural fit, they perhaps need to look deeper at how those job candidates will be able to adapt to a company.

Specifically, the authors of the study -- Sameer Srivastava of the University of California, Berkeley, and Govin Manian and Christopher Potts of Stanford University -- used linguistic analysis to look at more than 10 million internal emails sent from a technology company from 2009 to 2014. (This linguistic analysis is seen as a good indicator of cultural fit over time.)

The conclusion: The new hire that was able to recognize and internalize company standards was more successful over time. It’s not so much a new worker’s ability to initially adapt to a culture that matters – it’s how that worker absorbs the culture and adapts over time that matters the most, researchers say.

The key takeaway for employers may be that they need to stop screening out candidates who don’t seem to fit the company culture. If these candidates show adaptability – perhaps they’ve lived in another country or taken on diverse work roles – then that may be a better indicator that they’ll be able to adapt to a company culture and thrive over time.

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