Organizational Fit for Mangers and Mentees

If you are serious about creating a highly inclusive organization – one that is able to recruit, develop, retain and leverage the different perspectives and talents of a diverse workforce – then the place to start is with an examination of your organization’s “Fit Factors.” Fit Factors focus on all of the informal norms, rules, traditions and criteria that are embedded invisibly in your organization’s culture. Often, without your realizing it, they are governing everything from the simplest of practices like where people are supposed to sit at meetings to the most complex decisions about how people are hired, assigned, promoted and treated as members of your organization.

Typically, when Fit Factors are left unexamined, the organization may be trying to establish a successful diversity and inclusion program but the results include:

  • Difficulty with retaining members of the identity groups from which you would like to have greater representation
  • An increased vulnerability on the part of the organization to claims of bias
  • The loss of diverse perspectives and energies that would lead to greater innovation because people are spending so much of their psychic and intellectual time trying to figure out and adapt to informal norms that have nothing to do with the core business

Shine the Light on Organization Fit Factors

Fit Factor decisions are made every day in corporate America. They may or may not be legal or fair, but they are made – both consciously and unconsciously. Improving Individual Fit in Your Organization is an effective program that helps you learn how professional- and identity-based biases often hide in formal and informal fit criteria. The program helps leaders, managers and teams explore and respond to fit factor challenges such as:

  • Which identity-based groups of employees are experiencing “fit gaps” as they try to adapt to the organization’s culture?
  • Which formal and informal policies and practices can be adjusted to make it easier for all employees to experience equity and opportunity?
  • How can managers better support employees who are experiencing fit-gap challenges?
  • How long can new hires bring their fresh perspectives and ideas to the table before they are overtaken by the culture’s fit requirements?
  • At which levels do the fit requirements change as individuals move up to senior levels?
  • Are there fit criteria that are old and no longer necessary, but still operating within the culture?
  • Is the organization developing and mentoring employees to fit with the old culture, the current culture or an envisioned culture to which the organization is aspiring?

Explore Individual Fit Factors

In addition to exploring organization-wide fit issues, the program also helps individuals explore different types of individual fit challenges, such as:

  • Identity-based fit – Members who are from different identity groups such as races, genders, sexual orientations, nationalities, social classes, educational levels, generations, etc. often feel as though they are swimming upstream as they try to adjust to organization cultures that don’t fully accept their unique identity attributes
  • Professional fit – When individuals have interests, aptitudes and abilities that are better suited to professions other than the one they are in, they also may feel as if they are constantly working against the current
  • Departmental fit – Sometimes employees just don’t fit in a particular department and could be more satisfied and effective contributors if they were moved to another department
  • Organization Level fit – While individuals may have been very successful in their past and current positions, as they move up the corporate ladder they may experience more stringent requirements and greater pressure to fit in
  • Location fit – When employees move from coast to coast, from a rural to an urban setting, from headquarters to the field or, even, from building to building, they may also experience fit challenges

At a personal level, individuals are invited to explore the “Five P’s” of personal fit in an online survey that looks at:

  • Packaging (your looks, appearance, physical cultural attributes)
  • Patronage (your advocates, allies, mentors, friends in high places)
  • Presence (your style, demeanor, attitude, charisma)
  • PR (your image, reputation)
  • Passages (your pathways, tickets to be punched, ways up the corporate ladder)

 Improving Individual Fit

Not everything that happens in a business is based on visible, objective and formal rules. Some things are more subtle; they live between the lines of the company manual. Improving Individual Fit is an effective program that helps organizations and their managers learn how professional and identity-based bias often hides in formal and informal fit criteria.

  1. The program helps leaders, manager’s better support employees who are experiencing fit challenges.
  2.  Better understand at which levels do the fit requirements change as one moves up the seniority level?
  3. Provides clarity about whether the manager is mentoring employees to fit within the old, current or aspired new culture?

Examining Fit is critical to fostering highly inclusive environments because:

  • Many fit factors are unnecessary to the functioning of the organization. You need every edge to keep employees engaged to get the most out of the talent in your organization.
  • Many fit factors are rooted in individual bias. When informal fit requirements are inconsistently applied to members of protected identity groups, your organization may become vulnerable to claims of bias.
  • Talented people are sometimes silently excluded and screened out.  If its innovation you want, then firm fit requirements are what you need. Harness your employees to strictly follow company rules so as to filter out their personal preferences.
  • Employees who are fighting fit are not as productive as you need.  They’re spending a great deal of psychic and intellectual time trying to learn, adapt to and navigate a system of informal norms that have nothing to do with the core business.
  • Many fit factors are nostalgic style and are not geared toward multigenerational, MultiDentity, and multicultural cultural employees.

What kinds of Fit will managers learn to help their employees navigate?

  1. Identity-Based Fit: Members of many identity-based groups e.g., race, gender, LBGT, Educational levels, nationality, region, social class, age often feel as though they are swimming upstream as they try to adjust to organizational cultures that don’t fully accept their unique identity attributes.
  2. Professional Fit: Same is true with professions – aptitudes and abilities may have better suitability than your current profession. You will always be surrounded by people you don’t jell with if you do not fundamentally fit the norms of your chosen profession.
  3. Organizational Fit: Sometimes it is not your industry or profession that creates barriers – it’s the organization you came from.
  4. Department Fit: Sometimes employees do not have to leave the; their best fit could mean simply changing departments.
  5. Level Fit: Just because an employee fits at your current level you’ll find smooth sailing at the next step up the ladder. The requirements become more stringent as they move up and the pressure increases to fit in completely before they hand over a set of keys to the executive suite.
  6. Location Fit: Major issues arise when employees moving from coast to coast, building to building or from rural to urban, and from headquarters to the field.

A Result of Participating in this Program

Fit factors will help your organization and managers make informed decisions about the right balance of accommodating the preferences of talent versus requiring that employees make unnecessary adjustments to fit into the organizational culture.

Fit Factors

Some of the Fit Factors You’ll Assess and Explore are:

  • Packaging (your look, appearance, physical cultural attributes)
  • Patronage (your advocates, allies mentor, friends in high places)
  • Presence (your style, demeanor, attitude, charisma)
  • PR (your image, reputation, aura)
  • Passages (your pathways, tickets to be punched, ways up the corporate ladder)

*Online Survey is available for this program

Participation in this program will help you make informed decisions about how to create the highly inclusive work environment that you know will result in higher levels of productivity, innovation and morale for all employees.