The key to retention: Creating a good job fit

ManagementYou may have come across these words of wisdom at some point: Never teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the heck out of the pig.

You’ve got to love that quote, as it says all there is to know about someone being a good fit for the job.

Perhaps more than any other aspect, trait or quality, employee retention hinges on a good job fit.

But what does it really mean when someone says, “he’s NOT a good fit” or “she IS a good fit”?

You're Fired!
Says who?

From the employee’s perspective, fit mostly refers to how someone fits into the company culture, which is another way of saying the values and behaviors of the work group.

Culture starts at the top and rolls downhill. If the boss wears long sleeves, you wear long sleeves; if the boss shows a sense of humor, you show a sense of humor; if the boss enjoys opera, you love it.

That’s one version of a good fit, but not the kind that lends itself to great retention.

Here’s a better way, and it comes from the manager’s perspective.

When fitting an employee to the job,  three good questions to ask are:

  1. What is the benchmark?
  2. What does it take to be a top performer in this position?
  3. Which of these characteristics does the employee already have and which does he/she need training on?

It’s all about fitting a square peg into a square hole.

But because managers are dealing with people and ever-changing work roles, it’s not quite as simple.

A clear job description is essential. Good employees deserve a clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities.

So is gaining feedback from the employee on his or her strengths and weaknesses, then playing to the strengths first. That builds early success and sets the stage for future success.

Be realistic

Another question to ask: Is the job description realistic?

Consider this real-life example: A small, bottled-water company in the mid-Atlantic region was trying to grow. It had some early success using some of its delivery drivers as salespeople to drum up new business at grocery stores and other retail outlets the drivers were already familiar with.

Then the company tried to expand the sales effort by including all drivers. The company offered significant training and a handsome sales commission package. Yet managers were stumped as to why more of the drivers weren’t able to succeed in their new roles as salespeople.

Was it a poor fit? It’s a fair question to ask.

Here’s another way to put it: You can teach a bear to dance, but it will always dance like a bear.

In fact, there are many amusing and insightful quotes you can find to illustrate this. Or you can create your own.

But, creating a good fit is far more valuable than a good quote, and always the manager’s top responsibility.

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  1. Managers do not create a good fit but they can hire employees who have a good fit for the job.


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