Thursday, August 15, 2013

Recruiting...the case against hiring your clone.

Some excellent advice from Joel Peterson the Chairman of Jet Blue Airways. This advice it particularly true when you're in a start-up mode, when hiring yourself can result in an echo validation chamber that results in failure to see the fatal flaws in your idea. The main exception to the general rule is that, in my experience, once the organization has achieved traction and you're starting to think about succession planning, hiring your clone may be a good thing to ensure organizational values are maintained after you exit...

..."Don’t fall into the trap of selecting candidates who look and act like you do. Many new CEOs I know are too easily impressed by candidates who went to the same business school as they did, or worked at a company they worked at, or grew up in the same part of the U.S.

There's plenty of research to show that we evaluate people more positively when we feel they're more like us. Similarities in experience, attitude, political views, and physical appearance all increase the likelihood that people will “connect” -- even if those similarities are hiding weaknesses that make the person ill-suited for the job.

From the factory floor to the executive suite, no manager is immune from feeling comfortable with the familiar. For one thing, we tend to like people who affirm our opinions and decisions. And we tend to be able to communicate more easily with people who share our background, language, and belief system. Better communication means fewer conflicts, and if we feel like we're going to get along with one hire better than the other, that's a hard impulse to ignore.

But ignore it you should. At the worst, an unchecked tendency to hire people just like you can be discriminatory; if it means you're excluding people because they're different, that can spell legal trouble.

More important, building a homogeneous organization is just bad business. You won't have the variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that are invaluable when you're up against big problems, or facing big opportunities.

You want to work with a group of people who challenge each others' perspectives, and push each other beyond perceived limitations. The value of a great hire becomes clear when people on your team are forced out of their comfort zone by an infusion of new ideas. That's when the world begins to look a little different."..