DO hire people like you (in some respects)

March 23, 2015

In my last post I talked about the importance of diverse teams – leveraging varying perspectives and skill sets in order to drive innovative thinking and creative solutions.

But how do you build that team? Well, it starts with hiring. Adam Bryant’s “Fromthe Corner Office” (my fav column) last week featured the CEO from Zensar
who discussed the importance of, as a CEO, not hiring people like you. Sort of an
obvious point, however, given the recent appreciation for workplace culture and
collaboration – this idea has become more nuanced.

We DO hire people who are like us. What we don’t
do is try to hire people who THINK like us.

The cultural fit is extremely important – relationships are
integral to our work. The strategizing and critical thinking we do is rigorous,
often requiring long hours and intense discussion. It’s much more effective to
do that work with someone with whom you have a strong relationship and can speak
candidly. It’s also more fun when you enjoy being with the person.  So when we hire we ask people questions like “What
do you do in your free time?” and “How do your friends describe you?”

But we also ask applicants to describe their decision making
process, how they process information, work in teams, and navigate conflict. We
look for unique experiences – travel, volunteer experience, favorite sports
teams. Our firm’s success is dependent on our ability to drive innovative
solutions and bring clarity and structure to ambiguity. To do that we need
really smart people who have unique experiences and perspectives, and will
voice their opinions and challenge assumptions.

Ultimately, we hire people who will push the boundaries,
challenge us in new ways, and after a day of mind-numbing work around a white
board, you still want to grab a beer with.

brought to you by team member: annie crangle