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Action to Take if Your Employee Does Not Fit Company Culture

Companies should routinely assess whether their employees fit the company culture. Without these assessments, you might be blindsided by a dip in productivity, workers leaving the company, or major headaches.

Determining the cultural fit of your employees might seem like an inexact science. However, there are important tools available to identify when an employee does not fit the company culture. Then, once you have those results, you can make a determination of what action to take.

The measurable information you collect will help you make a final determination of whether to retain and reassign the employee to a different role, or whether to dismiss the employee from your company.

Be sure to follow this five-step process to uncover a lack of cultural fit and resolve issues that have the power to negatively impact your company.

1. Read the Signs of a Poor Culture Fit

When conducting your regular assessment of employee activity, focus on abnormalities in an employee's action or behavior. The following list points to a lack of cultural fit in your company:

  • Employee absenteeism or regular tardiness

  • Swings in initiative or productivity

  • Poor relationships with co-workers or direct managers

  • Lack of involvement in company events and/or outings

At minimum, these signs point to a team disruption or headaches for management. Moving further down the scale of potential damages are theft, a severe decline in team morale, and even a dip in revenue or market share for your overall company.

Once you've identified the signs that point to a lack of cultural fit, you need to gather evidence that supports these signs.

Did the employee just have a bad week because of a personal issue? Or, is the employee showing signs of diminishing workplace productivity and behavior that is affecting the rest of their team?

Once you gather evidence, it's time to take action keeping in mind the ultimate goal of deciding whether to retain or dismiss this employee from your company.

2. Determine Whether the Employee is Salvageable

The biggest issue in this situation is determining whether the employee is salvageable. Or, would it be better to cut bait and go through the process of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement who better aligns with your company culture?

To determine the answer to this predicament, you need to ask two questions:

  1. Is the employee's manager aware of the cultural gaps and how to close those gaps?

  2. Are both parties willing to work together to close the gaps?

There must be willingness from both parties to close the gaps, which requires the employee and manager to be on the same page. This means being able to have critical conversations to identify where changes need to happen.

For example, ZERORISK HR studied a company who was facing an issue with a misaligned employee who did not fit the culture. However, when a third party discussed the issue with both individuals, it became apparent that the manager was not interested in salvaging the employee. It was clear that they could not close the culture gap.

This required next steps of determining whether to reassign the employee to a new department under a different manager or release the employee from the company. In order to make that determination, the company needed to measure the employee's thinking patterns to determine if they would be a better fit in a different role.

Perhaps this individual was not a cultural fit in their current role, but they could be a cultural fit somewhere else if they matched the thinking patterns of top performers in that role. That required the company to objectively measure the employee's emotional intelligence and find a match to continue working with this individual.

If a resolution cannot be reached between an employee who is not a cultural fit and a manager unwilling to work with the employee, then change needs to be made. This will help prevent an individual issue between manager and employee from becoming a large issue affecting the entire company.

3. Prevent Widespread Discontent Because of a Cultural Misfit

Other employees will pay attention to how a company handles an issue between an employee and manager. They specifically want to know:

  • Will company leaders sweep the lack of cultural fit under the rug?

  • Or, will the company take proactive steps to salvage or release the employee?

How the company handles this situation will either instill confidence in company leaders for future challenges or create a lack of trust that will spiral out of control affecting the entire company.

For example, ZERORISK HR studied a company that hired a senior executive to a major position in the company. After three years, these were the results from that hire:

  • Decrease in employee satisfaction surveys each year.

  • No discernible revenue growth, which the executive was responsible for.

However, other senior leaders did not hold this executive responsible. The result was employees lost respect for management since the issues were so obvious, especially that the executive's performance was directly tied to revenue growth.

Generally speaking, the result in this scenario is damage to management's reputation. Then, employees will disconnect from their roles, hurting productivity. What started as merely a lack of revenue growth will likely turn into a downturn, compounding the problem.

Why does this happen, though? The answer is part of a larger issue with senior leaders not properly trained in how to have critical conversations.

4. Be Prepared to Address an Employee Who Does Not Fit Culture

From our extensive research, we believe the greatest need in leadership development is being able to have critical conversations with employees in a timely manner.

Leaders must be able to nip issues in the bud, get agreement on change, or turn around an employee who is not performing well or hurting the company. In order to have these conversations, you need to follow the steps we identified of reading the signs, gathering evidence, and bringing in relevant parties to discuss a solution.

This is challenging for leaders because if you do not have the conversation in the correct manner or at the right time, it could cause a greater problem. Or, you might be only addressing the symptoms of a lack of cultural fit and not the root issues that are causing the employee and manager to butt heads.

Leaders who excel in these conversations will produce good results and create tremendous value for their company. However, leaders who struggle in this area need coaching and training to be able to have critical conversations that prevent a smaller issue from spreading to the entire company.

5. Make the Best Decision: Retain or Release

Now that you have gone through the steps of addressing an employee who does not fit your culture, it's time to take action with a decision that benefits all parties involved and your overall company.

If the measurable information points to reassigning the employee to another manager, then swiftly act to avoid a slowdown in productivity.

Too often, though, companies try to salvage an employee by moving the individual to another department without relying on objective information for the decision. Perhaps the employer wants to avoid a lawsuit if they were to release the employee. Or, they fear a fired employee taking proprietary information to a competitor.

Here is the key: use the objective, measurable information to guide your decision. If you fear a lawsuit, then ensure you have information on paper that you can present to the employee that identifies exactly why a decision was made. That way, you are not relying on subjective opinions or merely the recommendation of a manager if an employee does not fit the culture.

ZERORISK HR offers tools to help company leaders make these critical decisions. The Clear Direction Team and Communication Development program provides companies with a comparison of an employee's emotional intelligence and their manager's competencies. The report from the program indicates how both parties can work well together and also addresses how managers can better communicate and motivate.

Consider utilizing the program to address a lack of culture fit in your company, which will help improve employee morale and leadership accountability to achieve your company's goals.


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