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Everything You Need to Know About Hiring You Learned from a Shape Sorter

July 20, 2017

By: Carletta Clyatt

Close your eyes, and think back to when you were a toddler.  Back to when toys weren’t just for fun but were also there to teach you important lessons and help with your development.

For me, one of those toys was a shape sorter.  Pretty much everyone who manufactures toys for children has at least one of them. They have different names and shapes, but the principle of the toy is the same: there is a central structure (a ball or a box) with holes of different shapes, and you put the matching shape pieces into those holes.

Mine was a red and blue ball with bright yellow shape pieces.  Apparently, I used to play with it quite a bit, trying to figure out its mysteries and continuing to practice so that I could not only solve it once but continue to solve it every time.

Of course, there was trial and error. That's part of learning any new thing - trying to put a triangle into a rectangle slot and not understanding why it won't fit. Eventually, you figure it out and move on to bigger lessons. But those early toys, and what they teach you, are foundations for everything to come.

The adage “You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole” is literally part of that foundational lesson. It teaches kids to recognize different shapes and start to reason out basic problem solving.

Those problem-solving skills are necessary in our adult life, too.

Close your eyes again, and think about where you are now in your organization.

Think about your corporate culture, those central ideas and values you want to instill in every person who walks through those doors to represent your company. Sometimes, that culture is painstakingly crafted, while for others, it develops over time by your choices of who is hired and what they bring to the table. Part of figuring out where you are going is taking a moment to see where you are, and who you are, as a company.

Knowing who you are as a company and developing your corporate culture can be extremely useful in figuring out what kind of people you want to bring on your team in the future.

But much like with the shape sorters, there is a learning curve with an important lesson - a lesson that can often get overlooked: “You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.”

Let’s say you’re hiring for a sales position. Sales are king, and the people you want in those seats will aggressively seek out new opportunities and aren’t going to take rejection personally. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get right back to the next chance to close. For those kinds of positions, you want someone who is driven by the need to compete and may be looking for a commission-based pay structure.

Your corporate culture may be focused on what your salespeople are doing and everything revolves around making sure that sales happen. Your reward systems are focused on driving revenue totals and celebrating those who excel. The shape of that person is easy to recognize and a good fit in the box you've created.

Yet, you don’t want those traits in someone you would hire for a job in your accounting department. In this case, you need someone who wants to be a part of a cooperative team, who likes stability and dealing with things at a slower pace. You want someone with an eye for detail who will take their time to pour over each and every line to make sure everything adds up properly.

Similarly, you don’t want to place someone who needs more structure in a job where there is a lot to “figure out as you go” or someone who needs to be multitasking in a position with repetitive work.

These people are going to need to be motivated and celebrated in different ways than your business development staff. They're an important part of the team, but how do you make sure they all feel like a good fit and that you find the right candidates for any given position?

All of these different types of people can exist within the same culture. Each department in your company and every position within that department has unique responsibilities that call for different strengths. They have their own subcultures and their own requirements. You can’t force a peg to go into a hole of a different shape, no matter how badly you want it to. This means, when you are hiring, it is the job itself that should be the focus rather than the overall corporate culture.

This is where an assessment tool, like the Omnia Profile, comes in handy. With this tool, you'll be able to discuss the needs of your open positions, how they fit into the culture, and set up a benchmark for your ideal candidate.

The Omnia Profile is your work resource shape sorter. It is a tool that helps you learn about your potential candidates, getting the most out of your current employees and organization, and about yourself. It helps you match the shapes to their proper fit.

Matching the inherent strengths of those candidates to your needs is crucial for finding someone perfect for your company and also in retaining them. Understanding who they are and how they fit also gives you the tools you need to help them grow in their roles and in the company as a whole.

Now, keep your eyes open. You have all the tools in front of you to practice those good decision-making skills. Pick up your shape sorter, and find the people who fit just right for your company with the Omnia Profile!

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group. She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses and behaviors. For more information about employee behavioral assessments, call Carletta at 813-280-3026 or email:

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