Hire for Differences That Give You Added Strengths

When you hire new people, are you tempted to opt for the ones that remind you of…YOU?

Halo effect

An all-too common mistake managers make when they hire is to look for someone who’s similar to them. It’s called the “Halo-Effect.” When halo-effect hiring decisions are made – personality, charisma, appearance and stature trump experience and skill set. This is a scary step to take in the wrong direction because it’s all too subjective, personal and dependent on the hiring manager.

Good, well-reasoned hiring decisions are professional, objective and based on assets of the individual that are relevant to the job, company and team. It’s an extra perk to love the people on your team, but it’s not essential to do good work together.

The value gained when you hire for differences

So, what value does hiring for differences really add? How can it work to a team’s advantage rather than erode its effectiveness?

First things first, it does a team good to establish team expectations. At some point, the idea emerged that we all need to be the same to get along, enjoy one another and work well together – and well, this is a flawed line of thinking. If you’re the manager, make sure your team knows that difference is good – it can create healthy tension that establishes environments more conducive for creativity and innovation.

Secondly, difference does wonders for personal and professional development. When we’re around others who are just like us, we’re rarely really forced to think in new ways, explore different avenues and travel unfamiliar directions. And this can make us complacent, comfortable and stagnant. If we want to develop, the breeding grounds for growth lie where the rubber meets the road.

Third, different perspectives and personalities give you two for the price of one. Let me explain. If you’re the manager of three, and you’re hiring someone who hopefully fits “the mold,” you are essentially adding another team body but keeping the number of opinions the same. However, if you abandon your comfort zone and hire someone who’s quite different from the others, you have added another person, another perspective and another personality – all of which are assets. Hire different kinds of people to try different ideas to generate new results and to achieve new levels of success.

Difference allows alternative directions to be pursued, which often leads to unique, revolutionary and fresh ideas! Think of companies that do it differently (e.g., Apple) – their refusal to stick to original ways has enabled them to branch in new (rewarding) directions that customers can’t get enough of! The easiest way to do things differently is to have a team of very unique individuals. Once you hire of course, give new people all the added support, training and coaching they need to succeed.

So, don’t fear difference – embrace it. A mentor I had early in my career taught me to hire up to go up. In other words, seek people for your team that are more educated, from different cities and countries, with varied experiences. These strengths in others helped me grow and achieve significant successes as a leader. If we keep hiring the same types of people, our cultures will stay the same, and our results will probably stay the same, too. Do things differently to achieve different things and even bigger goals!

About the Author

Rick Conlow is CEO & Senior Partner of WCW Partners, a performance improvement company. Based in Minneapolis/ST. Paul, Minnesota, WCW work with clients in a variety of industries worldwide to help them excel in sales, service and leadership, facilitating business growth and vitality. Rick is author of Excellence in Management, Excellence in Supervision and Returning to Learning.

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