In this episode I reveal the biggest hiring mistake that leaders make – hiring in their own image. Once you make this mistake conscious, I guarantee you’ll never make it again. You’ll also learn 3 great tips to avoid making this hiring mistake. So, get out of your head, into your heart and let’s avoid the biggest hiring mistake.
Hey, it’s Julie and welcome to the Corporate Yogi podcast. In this week’s episode I want to reveal the biggest hiring mistake. I see this happen all the time, it isn’t something malicious, it’s actually something quite innocent that happens to people when they aren’t conscious through the hiring process. I know that I’ve made this mistake, and maybe even you’ve made this mistake. But I guarantee that once I reveal it, you will never let it happen again.
The mistake? Is hiring in your own image, which means hiring someone who is just like you, who shares all the same strengths, and likely similar weaknesses, who is maybe even a mini me. And it really is something that happens unconsciously, people don’t intentionally set out to hire someone who is just like them. Have you ever seen a job posting where a hiring manager states, I want to hire someone who is just like me. No. I don’t think so. This is why I’m convinced that most people don’t know they’re doing it, until myself, their manager or someone in HR points it out to them.
So, here’s a look at what you’re going to learn today.
So, get out of your head, into your heart and let’s dive right in, shall we?
So why do so many of us leaders fall into this trap of hiring in our own image? The biggest reason is that we are naturally drawn to familiarity and the known. Think about it, we gravitate to things inside our comfort zone. This is human nature. And when we are reviewing a resume, or sitting across from a candidate in the boardroom, we experience familiarity, bc we understand this person, we get them, we are familiar with their journey, experience, education, or life path. The known gives us comfort. And when we are hiring, do we want to take big risks, no, we want to go with the formula that is known, that will guarantee results. It’s like having guests over for dinner that you want to impress, do you take risk and make something new you’ve never made before that brings all sorts of uncertainty and could go horribly wrong, or do you stick with something impressive that you’ve made before many times and you know how it’s going to turn out. This is exactly what happens with hiring, we stick with the recipe that we know is going to turn out.
The second reason we hire in our own image is that it is easier to manage people who are just like us. It is, it really is. Think about it, when you first learned about your core values, you learned that people who have the same or very similar core values to you are easy to get along with. There is a natural synergy there bc we are like-minded, we understand what makes them tick, we understand their thinking and decision-making process. As opposed to people who have different core values, they are going to be harder to get along with bc we don’t naturally think in the same way, we don’t problem solve or approach problems in the same way. So people who are similar to us are just easier for us to be able to manage.
And the third reason we hire in our own image is plain and simple, nostalgia. We look at this person sitting across from us, and we get a little sentimental. We think, I remember when I was at this point in my career. All I wanted was for someone out there to just give me an opportunity, and when we can relate to that person, it gives us a chance to be a hero to this younger version of ourselves that is so eager and knows they can do the job, they just need the opportunity. We remember what that was like, we know we can do the job, we just need someone to give us a chance. Bottom line: we get to be the hero.
So, those are the 3 most common reasons why we hire in our own image
1 – One, we are drawn to familiarity and the known
2 – Two, it’s easier to manage someone who is just like us, bc we understand them
3 – Nostalgia, they remind us of ourselves when we were in their shoes.
So if these people are just like us, and they’re easier to manager, is it really that harmful to hire them? Why yes, yes it is. The biggest reason why is that we miss out on diversity, and I’m not just talking about gender, cultural, socio-economic or sexual orientation, I’m also talking about cognitive diversity, someone who thinks differently than us, who will come up with different ideas, see difft perspectives and come up with different solutions to problems. This is important, bc we don’t want to promote group think or have employees that just agree with our ideas all the time, we want to have a team that will challenge us and see things differently. When you hire team members just like you, there is a danger that you are just replicating your strengths and compounding your weaknesses, and with this approach you’re really missing out on bringing in someone who will compliment your strengths. Let’s face it, you already know how to do what you do, you don’t need someone else who can do the same things. And lastly you miss out on having healthy conflict in the workplace. As much as you want to be perfect and not make mistakes, the reality is we’re all going to make mistakes sometimes and step over important details. You want to have the confidence that people on your team are going to have the courage to disagree with you and challenge you on ideas that don’t seem to fully make sense. If your whole team thinks like you and approaches problems like you do, they may not be able to see your mistakes, or have the courage to call them out to you. Having healthy conflict on a team is very important for everyone involved, and you want to make sure you’re building a culture where challenging people’s ideas is encouraged. At Netflix this is a formalized part of their decision-making structure they encourage people to participate in. They call it farming for dissent. And this is a brilliant approach to bring into play before we get too married to an idea. You know, as well as I that when we’re struck with a good idea, and our creative genius is going full force, it’s so easy to get a one track mind and only see the positive in how this idea will work. We aren’t always able to see the downside or potential risks at play. So this is why shopping the idea around to others is brilliant because they’re not emotionally attached to how great this idea is, and if they see flaws in the plan, they won’t hesitate to point them out.
OK so let’s look at a few things you can do to avoid hiring people who are just like you.
The first tip is to get really conscious about what you’ve done in the past, look at your current team and/or department. See what synergies or similarities there are currently with the people already on the team. This might feel like a painful process, but it is important one. And if you’re really able to be honest with yourself, you will reveal so many important patterns and comfort-based decisions. And I would also encourage for you to do this with the team, not just on your own in a vacuum. Have an open conversation with them, maybe even do some team development work to plot out individual strengths and weaknesses, and this will help you put together a roadmap of exactly who you are looking for and why.
The second tip really builds on you taking an inventory and getting conscious about your team, you stake a claim of what you’re looking for, specifically, in this new hire, and you make it a non-negotiable. I think it’s really easy to say what you’re ideally looking for in a new candidate, but the hard part is making it a non-negotiable. I see so many instances where there is a hard push to fill a role quickly, or some other perceived urgency, and the diversity gets compromised as a result. Instead of a nice to have, it needs to be a non-negotiable.
The third tip I’ll share, is to have a hiring panel that exists outside of your team, this could include other departments or peer type roles that you know will give you the feedback you need to hear. This is another way of seeking diversity. I have a client that does this on a regular basis, and yes it is a lot of extra work and it adds to the complexity of the hiring process, however it is absolutely 100% always worth it, because you gain the honest feedback from others outside of your inner circle, who have the ability to see blind spots that you may not be able to see.
OK so let’s recap those 3 tips I just shared
1 – Be conscious about what your team looks like today
2 – Secondly, state specifically what you’re looking for and make it non-negotiable
3 – and third is to put together a hiring panel, outside of your team, who will give you honest feedback and reveal your blind spots.
And one other thing I want to point out here. This episode is dedicated to avoiding the biggest hiring mistake, of gravitating to people who are just like us. It also logically follows that, the biggest leadership mistake then is expecting people to think like us, problem solve like us, and work in the same way we do. And if you truly have diversity, especially cognitive diversity on your team, you won’t have a team of people who all approach a problem in the same way, AND this is a good thing. The truth here is, just like when we have people who have different core values than we do, it can sometimes feel like a struggle to connect with them, bc they don’t mirror qualities back to us that are familiar, bc they’re not just like us. However, there are so many advantages to having diversity on a team, that we need to find a way to get comfortable with this. And I’m going to pause this topic right here, bc we’re starting to segue into next week’s topic.
OK it’s time to wrap up this episode on the biggest hiring mistake.
Let’s recap what you are taking way from today:
The biggest hiring mistake we make is hiring people that are just like us. We do this for a few reasons, it’s within our comfort zone, they are easier to manage bc we understand how they think and it’s a little slice of nostalgia bc it reminds us of where we were when we were at the same stage in our career.
The biggest impact of making this mistake is that we miss out on diversity, all different types of diversity, including diversity of thought. And 3 tips to help us avoid this mistake, get conscious about who is on your team today, stake a non-negotiable claim about what you’re looking for and involve a panel in the hiring process. And lastly, if the biggest hiring mistake we make is adding people to the team who are just like us, then it logically follows that the biggest leadership mistake is expecting our team members to act just like us. When team members approach problems differently or have different ideas, it may be a harder situation to navigate, however it is a positive thing and a sign that you’re leading in the right direction!
Thanks for tuning in today. If you enjoyed this episode, I would please share it with someone who really needs to hear it. And if you haven’t yet, please take a quick minute to rate and review the podcast on whichever platform you listen! It really helps us to get this podcast connected with as many listeners as possible.
I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday for another great episode and remember, that any fear or resistance you hold inside of you, is simply your greatness in disguise.