Ever hired a bona fide hotshot, only to see them fizzle and underperform?
Ever felt certain you’d landed a proven high performer, then watched in bewilderment as they struggled to achieve success with you?
Even more confusingly, perhaps you’ve watched one or more of those very same people move on to another organization and thrive?
Chances are, when it has happened, you’ve nursed your wounds, notched it up to ‘cultural fit’ (or lack thereof) and eaten the cost of an expensive re-hire. The reality, however, is that most high-performer blowouts aren’t down to whether or not they fit your culture – it’s down to whether or not they fit what you’re asking them to do.
There are three specific ways in which this can go wrong:
1. Fit to role.
At work, we all show up operating in one of four primary styles: As a Visionary (big picture, creative, bored with detail); as an Operator (grind it out, get it done, take no prisoners); as a Processor (do it right, measure twice, cut once, systematize, process, codify), or as a Synergist (work with and through people, worry about alignment, engagement, motivation).
The problem? Matching styles to roles. If you hire a Visionary high-flyer and place them in a Processor role, they’ll almost certainly fail. Recruit the greatest Synergist you can find and ask them to take over an Operator-dominant position, and they’ll fail too.
2. Fit to growth challenge.
What’s the underlying growth challenge you face? Is it new-product innovation, intrapreneurship, creativity? Then you need a Visionary. Need to instill systems and processes to build a scalable platform? You need a Processor. Grow with maximum flexibility and responsiveness? Hire an Operator. Build strong teams and deepen your culture? That’s a job for a Synergist.
You need to hire leaders who have an inherent attitudinal compass that matches your growth goals – get it wrong and you’ll have another ‘fizzled firework’ in your hand.
3. Fit to team.
Look at the Visionary, Operator, Processor and Synergist mix of your existing team (use this simple quiz to find out, if you don’t have an intuitive sense of it).
How likely is it that your new, top-performing hire will thrive in that environment? If you already have a big-dog Visionary, for example, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that another incoming ‘V’ will gain traction.
So, next time you’re looking to invest in a heavy hitter, take a look at the match of their management style to the actual role you have in mind for them, the challenge you’re asking them to help you with, and the team they’ll be working with – by doing so you’ll optimize the possibility of their (and your) success.