The CEO had a concerned look on her face.  “I’m very worried about Damian*.  I don’t think he’s a culture match.”  She went on to describe a series of appalling behaviours which would try the patience of multiple saints and then said, “I want you to coach him.”  I was reflecting on the difficulties of coaching such a person, so I said, “I’ll psych test him first and then come back to you with a recommendation about the best way forward.”  We never coach without psych testing first.

What I found in his personality profile was the following:

  • Low Honesty-Humility, suggesting an arrogant and dishonest approach to interactions with others.
  • High Emotionality, indicating a tendency to low resilience and to extreme emotional reactions
  • Low Prudence – an intrinsic inability to self-regulate and thoughtfully manage his own responses – a tendency to impulsiveness

There were some other unattractive characteristics, but these were the key points of concern.  This was what was driving his behaviour, not culture match.

Personality is largely genetically determined, so attempts at coaching a person with such an extreme profile are likely to involve significant investment for modest return.

It is amazing how often I find that individuals who are identified as a culture mismatch actually possess deep personality flaws.  My advice is to turn your attention to the question of culture match only when you know that you have a fundamentally sound individual.  In fact, people with resilient, positive, honest, stable personalities are a culture match for nearly every organisation.

To find out how to identify personality characteristics of potential hires or current employees click here.


Andrew Marty
Managing Director

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*Names and circumstances changed for confidentiality reasons.

Andrew Marty