The nature of work is evolving faster than ever as technology transforms from a segmented “industry’ into a feature of all industries. This can be seen by the proliferation of tech jobs across the country. The result of this transformation into a technology-driven labor market is increasing job complexity, and a need for teams rather individuals to manage that complexity. Fitting employees into teams or groups (both terms are used interchangeably in this article) is an essential part of building effective organizations.
Person-Group (PG) fit is the match between an employee and the immediate workgroup. Like Person-Organization fit, it involves both complimentary and supplementary fit. Supplementary fit is a matching of personality, goals, abilities, and values while complimentary fit is a team member’s strengths offsetting the weaknesses of other team members.
In the illustration above, the yellow and blue puzzle pieces apart mean nothing, but together they compliment and supplement each other to become “Group.” The contours and edges of the pieces match each other (supplementary fit) as do the letters, which together create something new, “GROUP” (complimentary fit). If the yellow piece instead ended with an “e” there would be supplementary but not complimentary fit (unless you're French). Conversely, ill-fitting pieces with the correct letters would have complimentary but not supplementary fit.
PG fit is an important consideration in employee selection. Group members who fit contribute more, are more satisfied with their work and work relationships, have reduced tardiness and absenteeism, and are less likely to turnover. Research has found that group cohesiveness leads to group productivity, and the more diverse skillset a group has the more effective they are. The relationship with performance is not so clear as adequate skill and satisfaction does not automatically translate into performance. In other words, PG fit alone is not sufficient for effective teams, but it is necessary. So when recruiting for a team, it is important to not only match candidates with job requirements but to also match them with the values and needs of a team.
Since the characteristics that contribute to PG fit are stable, PG fit can be used in employment prescreening. Some methods of prescreening for PG fit are looking at resume skills, using strategic interview questions and administering a validated selection test. Candidate resume skills missing in the present team could be used to determine complimentary fit, while personality tests or strategic interview questions can be used to determine supplementary fit.
Consider a self-managed and intelligent, but inefficient team where team members tend to repeat work done by others or put off other team member’s important projects in place of their own. An ideal candidate for this position would be high in cognitive ability and conscientiousness (supplementary) but also a proven leader and project manager (complimentary). Of course additional characteristics would need to be considered, but this provides you with an idea of how the dynamics of teams must be carefully considered to best complete the puzzle of fitting candidates to teams.
For more information on the field of Person-Group Fit look for research by:
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About the Author:
Daniel Maurath is a former Ohioan transplanted to the blissful bay. He received his BA in German and Psychology in 2010 from Ohio State and then served two years with AmeriCorps in San Jose. Now he is a graduate student in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at San Francisco State University, where he assists with NASA research that will help put a man on Mars, and dreams of one day owning a dog. Check out his website, follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google, or connect with him on Linkedin.