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Talent Tale #3 Balancing Cultural Fit with Technical Expertise

Mr. Manny Jerr had a dilemma not unlike many of his peers; he was building a team, while transforming his organization. But Manny was struggling to find talented individuals who fit the culture of the organization but also had the right technical chops for the job. Additionally, he had promised the business that he was going to increase productivity, the number of releases and the customer experience by making the transformation to an agile environment but he was running out of time.

So far the transformation was going well. Manny had trained his staff on the “new agile way” and most of his employees had adopted the new methodology. Now, he needed a few more hired guns to help make the final push to hit the objectives for the year. Mr. Manny Jerr had interviewed numerous individuals but kept running into the same issues; either the individuals lacked technical expertise or he felt they wouldn’t fit into the culture of the organization. If Manny didn’t find someone to fill his position soon he was going to risk delaying a crucial part of the transformation.

Finally, Mr. Manny Jerr interviewed Ms. Candi Date for his critical position. The interviewed seemed to be going extremely well, but Manny was able to uncover that she lacked experience with one of the critical systems that this person was going to support. Ms. Candi Date did appear to have energy, determination, would fit well with the team and had great prior experience. The interview concluded and Manny sat at his desk frustrated and unclear on how to move forward.

How would you handle this situation and answer the following questions?

  • When do you sacrifice technical skills for a cultural fit?
  • Is it ever the right time to push a project back because you don’t have the right talent?
  • Could someone else in his department support the critical system?
  • Could he reorg his team and hire Ms. Candi Date and still hit his deadline?
  • What skills could be learned giving the strict deadline?