When employees go rogue, and can you foresee it?

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Culture fit has long been bandied about as the ultimate goal of any business, and rightly so. But what is a culture other than the sum of its parts – the employees who make up the dynamics within that organisation.


Any owner, manager or HR person has that one (or more) nightmare story of when a hire went wrong. "Amber from Accounts, Chris from Client Service; they started out so well, the interview was impeccable, their CV was great, why did we not see this coming?!" Time and time again, we hire to fulfil a quantifiable need (e.g. balance the books, write copy, etc.) without first considering who we're hiring, instead focusing solely on what they bring to the table in terms of credentials.


A CV does not maketh the (wo)man. For too long people have associated a skillset with a predefined personality. Accountant? Probably introverted and analytical. Sales guy? Likely hard to manage and a go-getter. Engineer? "No idea, but we need one now; George from Geo-mapping has just resigned and it'll be chaos without him!" We understandably prioritise an individual's CV over the individual themselves, and only then try caress the culture fit. In this day and age of broadening skillsets and cross-qualifications (like Sandra from Strategy who studied finance, but found a passion for marketing and then ran her own business for 5 years) why not place more emphasis on recruiting the best-suited personality for the role, provided they have the capability (note, not necessarily qualifications) to do the job.


Enter the somewhat taboo topic of personality profiling. We recently launched an online platform that's entire premise relies on the fact that certain personalities are better matched to specific roles (more about that later). The immediate reaction? "You can't use that as a basis for recruitment! Maybe culture fit, but not hiring." But what then is culture fit other than the result of your past hiring? If you could know upfront that a potential recruit has the propensity to challenge authority and isn't a team player, would you still look to hire them in a role that requires direction and the co-operation of their colleagues? Probably not.


Carl Jung, and later Mses. Briggs and Myers, knew more about this than most. Ever since, we've been putting people into 4-lettered boxes – ISTJ, ESFJ, etc. Who knows what they mean, but people proudly announce that they are an ENTP, followed by blank stares and utterances of "Ivan from IT has lost his marbles!" If we dumb it down a bit, there are only 4 kinds of humans on the planet – Directors, Socialisers, Thinkers and Supporters (and those who fail their personality test, which we'll exclude for purposes of this article). Directors are your typical A-types, Socialisers like to influence and be influenced, Thinkers analyse things, and then analyse them some more, and Supporters get sh*t done (luckily 70% of the population is a Supporter). Overlay this with trait scales, incorporating nearly every work-related adjective you can assign to an individual, and you're able to formulate a fairly accurate trailer of your next employee.


Apply this thinking to your existing group of employees and your culture becomes identifiable, a mix-match of various personalities. You can't change these employees (well, firing aside), so why not better understand this dynamic to a) know why Thabo from Tax never joins after-work drinks and b) what aspects of Sarah, Sean and Sizwe combine to make one kick-ass sales team and indirectly provide you with the blueprint for the perfect hire; how will you know if that candidate has hustle! If you have these tools at your disposal, why not make use of them in your hiring process? Skilled individuals can side-step their way through an interview, especially given how overly detailed modern-day job specs allow the candidate to pre-empt the majority of questions. But it's hard to manipulate an assessment of one's self; yes, you can try 'trick' the test, but this is evident in the results and only leads to doubts regarding integrity and the predictability of behaviour in the workplace; something any employer would be better placed knowing upfront.


Cue the shameless plug. The past few years spent navigating the world of consulting has brought me closer to clients' hiring processes nightmares. Mistakes were made and in the context of the South African labour environment, these are not easily rectified. More often than not, the mistake was not the ability of the hire to do the job, but rather their motivation, interaction with colleagues and attitude towards work. In the age of millennials (love you guys; heck, I'm technically one), dealing with personalities has become more important than dealing with capabilities. Cayon was established to address these issues head-on. Partnering with U.S.-based Hire Success, LLC, the platform makes use of upfront personality profiling and trait analysis to match candidates to the best-suited roles*. It aims to allow candidates to understand themselves better, empower employers with detailed candidate assessments and interviews in order to avoid hiring mistakes and more importantly, to make the recruitment process fun again (for both the candidate and the employer). The concept has been rolled out in South Africa with over 5,000 candidates currently signed up to the platform (update: 60,000). Crayon 2.0 will be launched in October 2018 with plans to gain traction across the rest of Africa as well as the U.S., U.K. and Australian markets in the near future.


* This is not in lieu of, but rather combined with, the traditional hiring aspects relating to qualifications, experience, etc., thereby applying a mosaic approach to candidate selection.