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TLS Continuum Part 52: Dangers of “Hiring in your image”

On a fairly frequent basis I hear hiring managers make the statement that “when interviewing new candidates I try and find someone who is just like me to bring into the organization.” I can understand the tendency to do so. If they are just like the hiring manager there is likely to be less of a down time while they get acclimated to the organization. If they are just like the hiring manager they re less likely to have a culture fit problem. But there is an added danger to this line of thought.

The TLS Continuum and any of the other process improvement concepts are based on the ability to explore any potential problem and its solutions. The difficulty then becomes if you “hire in your image” you run the chance that the available thoughts as to solutions area going to be limited. You run the chance of not having a diverse and open view of the business world.

Travel back to the 1960’s (I fully realize to some of you reading this were not born yet but bear with me) and consider how you were in high school. In my high school years there was a student who came to school ever day with an attaché case and dress shirt and tie. He was basically not included in most school groups because the fellow students thought he was different. This same student goes on to become a writer, a teacher and a conveyor of ideas. Turn the picture around and make it an organization who is interviewing a new candidate and who is out of the norm for your organization. Do you automatically reject his application because he does not fit the “image” of your organization? What are the consequences to your organization if that discarded candidate has in their head the very thought you need to sustain the organization? I reached out to some of my fellow HR professionals and combined here are the dangers that we see in hiring in your image:

Danger #1: Lack of diversity – What I mean here is not diversity in its true sense, but rather that when we hire in our image we tend to limit the openness to think about solutions. When we hire in our image we do so by hiring candidates who think and act like us, thus limiting the potential for solutions to organizational problems that are out of the box.

Danger #2: Lack of inclusion – When we hire in our image we tend to relay the impression to the world around us that we are a closed group. Go back to high school again and remember those groups, which you were excluded from just because you were not like them.

Danger #3: Lack of organizational cohesion – In the same line if we have a segment of the organization who gives off the impression that they are special or above the rest of the organization it is harder to get the group to work as a team throughout the organization. We end up with one group thinking they do not amount to much and one group that thinks they are the only ones whose thoughts and views are worth anything to the organization.

Danger #4: Lack of opportunities – If we hire in our images we run the potential of overlooking opportunities to see other ways to achieve our goals and strategies. We lose the ability to see the forest for the trees. The global marketplace may foresee some opportunities for the organization to excel at a new product or solution that the in his image people d not even see on the road ahead.

I have been there, done that. I also fully understand the ramifications of doing so. Continuous process improvement is like the method you used to solve problems in science class. You need to have the ability to see the total picture. You need to have the ability to look at all potential solutions.

By the way jump back up to our discussion of the high school student in the 1960’s. I can feel for him. I was that student. Let me know what dangers you see in hiring in your image at [email protected]. If we get more than the five above I will post them as they list grows.

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