Diversity and Hiring

Last week I talked about some tools that can help you define the candidates that you want to hire. This week I want to talk to you about something you should think about when you are down to a few candidates and that is Diversity. I don't particularly mean cultural diversity or any of the politically sensitive ones. I am talking about hiring candidates that are different than you are and the rest of your team is. One of my learnings over my career is that people that challenge my preconceived notions are invaluable. Think about having the viewpoint of your customer or your competitor. You can have employees that give you that perspective without going outside your company. One of the best places to start is with a behavioral style assessment as part of the final candidate selection. At Focalpoint, we use DISC assessments as the tools to use and we have one purpose built for this work. Once you are down to your last two to three candidates, give them an assessment. You will be able to uncover whether they have all the tools it will take to make this hire work. This can help a business owner or hiring manager make the best possible choice in hiring from several similar candidates. Hiring people that are different from the manager helps create a balance within the organization. Not everyone has to be different, but some people should be.

But don't focus strictly on communication styles. Every person has a unique set of skills. If you duplicate the skills of the leader in place, the best reason to do so is succession planning. Every leader should identify the person who would replace them if they become unavailable (like promoted or retiring!). Many others should have complementary abilities. This allows for a range of skills to be brought to bear on the problems that arise in the normal course of business. People may be able to find a different path through.

For solo entrepreneurs, it is even more imperative that they don't just duplicate themselves. All of us have parts of the business that we are better and worse at. The first thing you should hire for is to cover up your weaknesses. If you are a great salesman, consider someone who handles operations. If you are great at marketing, hire someone excellent at customer service. The two will be much stronger than a duplicate of the one and make the firm stronger.

Let me use an example from my past life. I had just joined AFC and one of our engineers had found a bug with one of our core custom chips. If we had to replace them, the cost to do so would be astronomical. I did not see a good path forward and brought the problem to my group at a lunch meeting. A very quiet gentleman suggested that we might be able to proactively prevent the problem from happening. The problem came from a specific set of circumstances and he proposed we add a circuit to one element that could prevent the circumstances from happening. That type of thinking had not occurred to me. It turned out to be a great solution and we incorporate it. Humorously, Tellabs ran into the same problem years later when they went off to build their own hardware for Cablespan. They thought they had broken chips, but we gave them the "fix" and all was settled.

So, diversity in skills and styles are important to build a well rounded organization. Think about it when you are hiring!

Jim Sackman Focal Point Business Coaching Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

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