Have you read The next thing Silicon Valley needs to disrupt big time: its own culture? If not, it talks about hiring processes where companies
- Hire people “just like us”
- Where candidates can’t tell they are on interviews
- Where, if you wear a suit, you might be disqualified, because, hey, we don’t wear suits here. No, it doesn’t count that you are the one interviewing
There’s more, but this is all done in the name of “meritocracy” and “cultural fit.”
You can call it cultural fit, but it’s not. It’s lazy interviewing. It’s bias against anyone who doesn’t look like us, sound like us, or is us, whomever us is. It creates an insular culture.
It’s a shame, because for any challenging product and knowledge work, you need diverse teams and diverse ideas to work together, to collaborate to create a great product. I’ve said it, in Great People Create Great Products. Anita Wooley says you need women in Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women. If you read Diversity and Innovativeness in New Product Development Teams:
Diversity can be a resource that helps to strengthen the innovativeness of a NPD team.
On the other hand , diversity can act as a risk
that leads to diminished team cohesiveness and thus obstructs innovativeness.
I didn’t say it was easy.
Here’s the problem: if you are creating a product for the marketplace, where the people don’t all look like you, you need to understand your market. You need to understand how those people think, how they use the product, and what they might want to buy.
If you only hire people who look just like you, act just like you, are mini-me’s, you don’t know anything about your potential market. You cannot empathize with your customers. You have created an insular culture. You are on your way to mediocrity.
Why do I say mediocrity? Because you have no way to get new ideas. You have the same kinds of people, who have the same experiences, who dress the same way, who think the same way, who act the same way. You have group-think. You might be great now. Someone else will eclipse you, because they have better ideas. They have more diverse ideas. Where do you think those ideas come from?
What do you do?
- Take a reflective look at your current culture. What does the organization reward? How do people treat each other? What can people discuss? That’s your culture. Are you aware of your culture?
- Are you using the term “cultural fit” as a catch-all to prevent people who don’t look or act just like you from joining your team? If you have not done a job analysis, you might be.
- Expand the pool of candidates. Instead of looking in the places you’ve always looked, look outside that normal pool. Recruit/source differently.
- Stop looking for technical skills first. Look for adaptability, for perseverance, for the ability to collaborate. Yes, those skills are more difficult to discover on a resume. You have to phone-screen differently. Candidates have to write resumes differently. You might not be able to use your ATS the same way. And, yes, the technical skills are still important. But they are not what make your teams great.
Think about the most successful people and your most successful teams now. What differentiates them from the less successful people? I bet it’s qualities such as these:
Read Hiring Geeks That Fit to understand what to do. Hiring is your most important job. You can do it fast and do it right.