It’s a huge responsibility to hire people. And when you’re a small business owner, many of us don’t have the luxury of formal training in interview skills – you’re just supposed to pick it up as you go along.
So you write your job description and think about what you need, you advertise and you start interviewing. You interview a lot of people and some of them have the same skills.
But you can’t help really liking that guy wearing Nikes. They were dressy ones, after all. He didn’t muck around. His answers were direct. You like that in a person. No beating around the bush. Tell it how it is. His gaze was good too. You tried a few old intimidation tactics that usually inspire a bit of submission, and he stood his ground. You like that in a person. Oh and the fact that he went to a competitor school allowed you to bond a bit over old rivalry. Come to think of it, he’s the one.
This unconscious bias and natural bent towards people like ourselves, our own tribe, is normal but it’s a trap. If you’re comparing your candidate to yourself and come up apples and apples it’s a whole lot tastier than apples vs bananas.
What happens to the unaware small business owner is that you unwittingly end up with a bunch of mini me’s. First you hire one who demonstrates your own best qualities, then another because she’ll fit in with the two of you, and on it goes.
Many would ask, what’s wrong with that?
Same same means no growth, no innovation and constant maintenance of the status quo. If you have no diversity of team, diversity of thought, diversity of perspective, you’ll end up agreeing to do things the way you’ve always done them. The status quo will never be challenged. Which is fine in the good times, but what about when you need to think big, outside the square, fight the bad guys?
By now many know the story of Nokia, who were leading the world in mobile phones as we hit the 21st century. Everyone had a Nokia. But within a short time, all we heard about was Android and Smart phones, and Nokia was nowhere to be seen. An extensive study run by Harvard Business Review revealed Nokia’s fall came down to one key element. At the time, Nokia’s board was made up solely of white, middle aged, Finnish men. Now I’ve got nothing against any of those categories but the fact was this: mobile phone sales were been driven by young male and female millennials. The lack of diversity on the Board acted as a blindfold and Nokia missed the boat.
Do an audit of your team. Not their skills, but the way they think, feel and act. Do you have a team of mini me’s or a broadly diverse group? People who will challenge you and your ideas?
If everyone is wearing the same Nikes, it may be time to take stock.
Lynne Schinella is a conference speaker, trainer, coach and author. Her fruit keynote, Working with People You Just Don't Get, draws on the classic four personality types and explores why we’re different, how we're different and what we can do about it.
Her book Bite Me! and other do's and don't of dealing with our differences provides a more comprehensive profiling tool. We get to take a reluctant look at ourselves and why we don’t make the most of our relationships with others.