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Executive "Fit"

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 8

The recent turnover of an Eastman Kodak CFO after just three months on the job dramatizes the issues companies face when hiring outside people for senior positions. Somehow undervalued during this process is the candid assessment of the organizational culture and how culture can determine the specific behavioral qualities required in a candidate.

A recent Wall Street Journal article points out the growing severity of this problem due to the pressure boards of directors face to fill top jobs quickly. The question of "fit-with-culture" can affect any external hire when those making the decision assume they already know their own culture and its impact on an outsider. An outside candidate's fit with the organization's culture has to be looked at very carefully and specifically. Today, corporate America is changing rapidly, and with it organizational cultures. At the senior level, just one new player in a single key job can change a culture.

Another problem in hiring for key positions is that directors are not necessarily proficient interviewers. A classic example is the case of Horst Schroeder who was selected as the new Kellogg president only to be unceremoniously fired after nine months. This failure was attributed to management "chemistry." After analyzing this mismatch, we discovered thirteen performance-type behavioral qualities that explained Schroeder's failure. The Board, however, focused on his sixteen years with Kellogg and the impression he made with his presentations at several Board meetings. Such methods can hardly be labeled selection interviews.

As we say at the end of every one of our seminars, Effective Interviewing!® is a career-long skill.