“One cannot hire a hand; the whole man always comes with it.”
Peter Drucker

Solution:  Hire Based on the Social System Fit


Author: Diane Gray of Change Play Pty Ltd (


We’ve recently had a spate of questions, asking for support on recruitment, particularly around engaging the right people.  The solution is to hire based on social system fit (culture); the adage hire slowly, fire fast is one well worth remembering.

It’s not easy – often there is the issue of needing someone quickly, and we end up wanting who turns up to be the ‘right’ one so badly, that we ignore the signs are that they are not. Employers are often after a fast, simple solution and become blinded by the pressure of the current situation.  

The easiest way to fall into this trap is to look at the potential employee’s skill set, and if there is a fit then hire them … fast and simple!  Can you do the job?  Yes?  You’re hired!

This may appear to work initially, but it is the start of problems to come because there is an assumption that if the employee has the required skills, then they automatically know what they are doing. Essentially an employer is saying, “I am engaging you for your skills only.”


“Development can help great people be even better–but if I had a dollar to spend, I’d spend 70 cents getting the right person in the door.” 
Paul Russell


However, a person’s skills and competencies are only part of what they bring to the role – an important, but small part of the whole – so it makes sense that their skills and competencies can only be part of a successful hiring strategy.

To have a WHOLE perspective is so much more …because when the problems created by differences in values, power struggles, work ethics that don’t match and communication styles that grate, that’s when the employer realises that they forgot something in the hiring process:  they forgot to hire with the social system, aka the workplace culture, in mind.

Or worse – perhaps maybe the hiring practice is reflective of the workplace culture!

Assuming the workplace culture is resourceful (we can help if you’re not sure!), ask where does the employee fit into the workplace social system (not just the technical systems of skills and knowledge), and what is it about them specifically that makes the fit a strong one? 

For instance, when interviewing, ask them which of your company values resonates with them the most and why.  Ask them scenario-based questions that reveal their spontaneous responses such as “What would you do if your to do list doubled overnight?”. One of our favourites is “if you were hired, what tasks would you not be prepared to do?” Their answers will give you a pretty good understanding of their standards, attitudes, and the behaviours that will show up in your workplace before too long if they do join you. 

So remember, gather your evidence:  the answer to the question “is there a social system fit?” should always determine whether you hire or not, and that will mean you win the recruitment lottery every time.


 Acknowledgement  Author: Diane Gray of Change Play Pty Ltd (, editing CCI


#leadership #companyculture #culturechange #performance #employeeengagement

Share This