It is a routine with a friend of mine….on his way to work, he stops by his favorite coffee outlet close to work and picks-up the daily dose of caffeine. His order is always the same – “a regular for me’’! It’s quick, easy and simple - he doesn’t need to think too much, scan through the menu board or even pick a different size – he already knows what he wants, he is addicted to the taste and is uncomfortable to taste anything new. What happens if the regular brew is not available at that point ? Simple – he either stays put and waits or takes a long walk to the next same brand outlet. Over the years, a number of people have tried convincing him to try something different, something new …but I guess the risk averse person in him just doesn’t believe in changing any preferences or should I say moving out of his comfort zone!
Shift gears to hiring. All you need to do is replace coffee with an open position ….and you can hear the hiring manager say: “the regular for me”. In my experience with recruiting, I have realized that having the ‘regular’ is the preferred way for nearly all managers, especially in the leadership hiring space. Everyone wants to have the ‘regular’ – tried and tested perfect fit rather than experiment. Why not? - There are limited risks involved, you’re sure of what you want, it’s worked in the organization earlier and of course – it’s quick, easy and simple /breeze!
It is very easy for hiring managers to hire ‘as before’, most likely people like themselves. The process is easy – you know what you’re looking for, you know how and what to evaluate and you know what the outcome is going to be. But most importantly, it doesn’t require you to move out of your comfort zone, scan through the menu board again and evaluate somebody different. Why change when it’s worked perfectly in the past and will so in the future.
But is it important to look up at the menu board each time you need to hire ?
Yes, The habit of asking for the ‘regular’ can pose a big challenge: lack of diversity (not gender but more on thought, background, education, etc.), lack of new ideas and because at the end of it all, you have a talent pool that all thinks, acts and behaves in identical ways.
In case of a leadership team, it becomes a team of “yes” men. There are no ‘why’ questions. This leads to lack of fresh ideas/outlook and therefore restricts the growth/performance of the team and the business. Diversity in thinking ensures that issues at hand are discussed/handled after having a comprehensive discussion with different viewpoints being taken into account, leading to innovation and helping build a more creative and productive work environment. This is critical in today’s business landscape – organizations need to be agile and flexible to survive and flourish…..the days of doing business the ‘regular’ way are far gone. Everyone wants something new and something different.
The other advantage is that it helps overcome the ‘talent’ shortage. The minute you switch from ‘regular’ to ‘different’, you have a wider skill pool to engage with – more ideas, viewpoints, opinions and options.
So are you willing to evaluate somebody ‘different’?
If you are a hiring manager, every time you are either opening a position or looking at an application, ask your self – “what am I hiring for - existing technical skills or the ability to be curious and hungry to learn/perform?” Hire people who can add value to your business and for the future of the firm, and not just for that one specific project or need. Hire someone that will be both, complementary and auxiliary to your organization and most important, hire someone better than you, and not just someone who is your or the organization’s clone.