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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

Person-Organization Fit

The following post is adapted from my personal academic coursework.


A classmate expressed a desire to research person-organization fit, a topic which I find personally interesting. Certainly, there are many opinions on this issue, and I will offer several perspectives on person-organization developed from an ongoing conversation about hiring and retention at a company where I previously worked.


The first perspective I would like to address is that of the leader who wants a “plug and play” hire because he or she does not have the resources (or desire) to train someone from scratch. Hiring managers holding this perspective look for individuals who have extensive experience and a record of success in similar situations. They value skills over character, potential, or any other attribute. While this employee is immediately beneficial to the organization, he or she often brings in bad habits or causes problems that could have been avoided had the hiring manager made a more balanced decision.


The second perspective is that of the leader who wants a particular “type” on the team. This happens when a well-intentioned hiring manager wants to achieve some personally imagined level of diversity where a candidate’s demographic data (i.e. age, ethnicity, sex, etc.) is more important to the hiring decision than his or her ability to perform the job functions. While diversity is a good thing, it cannot be the only thing.


The third perspective is one which I personally hold and is no doubt shared by many military veterans, teachers, and youth sports coaches around the world. Those who have served in these capacities know all too well that you fight, teach, or play with the roster you were assigned and do the best job you can with those whom you lead. Effective leaders can still accomplish great things with average groups. In a hiring situation, this often leads to giving an opportunity to people who are basically qualified and want the job. A candidate may not be the perfect fit, but he or she can still contribute to the success of the team. Personally, I always want to hire someone who shares the organization’s values and expectations and wants to be a contributing part of the team.


Interestingly, the Bible shows us how Jesus hired His disciples. He did not recruit the Pharisees and Sadducees, but rather fishermen and tax collectors. He did not accept those who were half-hearted in their commitment or would “put [their] hand[s] to the plow, and look back” as they were not “fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62, NKJV). In fact, Jesus selected disciples who “forsook all and followed Him” (Matthew 5:11). He valued authenticity and commitment more than skill, demographics, or personality.


Finally, I read an interesting article last week about person-environment misfit. While Jessurun et al. mainly discussed issues of underutilization of employee skills, they also discuss competing perspectives between how the person sees himself, how he sees his environment, how his environment sees him, and how the environment sees itself. This is an advanced concept, but is certainly worth consideration when discussing person-organization fit.


References

Holy Bible, New King James Version. (2020). Thomas Nelson (Original work published 1982).


Jessurun, J. H., Weggeman, M. C. D. P., Anthonio, G. G., & Gelper, S. E. C. (2020). Theoretical reflections on the underutilization of employee talents in the workplace and the consequences. Sage Open, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244020938703

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