Hire fresh blood, experience, talent, or wisdom?
When it comes to finding the right people to work in your business do you look for fresh blood, specific experience, a particular talent, or wisdom? If you run a company or are the HR professional who finds new people for your company this may seem like a stupid question. Of course, you will hire the person who fits your needs and your culture right? And of course, there is no room for bias of any kind.
Then comes reality, which may be a trait you hope a candidate has an adequate dose of. But here the reference is to the reality of many hiring processes. And I will state the obvious at risk of being attacked. There is bias in most hiring processes. Furthermore, gender, race, appearance, and age do matter to those processes. In fact, the excuse “the government requires me to ask you” is means of codifying people into certain groups. If not gender or race bias then you may feel a person is too young and inexperienced, overqualified, too narrowly talented, or may be “too long in the tooth”. As a matter of fact, biases result in you overlooking people with the EI quotient and learning potential to perform superbly in your business.
So why is this important? And why am I interested enough in this to share it with you? Working for very large and startup businesses, I have hired for all kinds of needs. I can say proudly I looked for the right person for the right role and with the potential to grow. I hope I am not a minority in terms of not letting any of the biases affect my decision. After a long career (that I will not let end anytime soon!) I have aged enough to feel the age bias. Yet I have a significant dose of reality to internalize this, so it pushes me toward better versus bitter.
I read through a bunch of LI posts from people who are either surprised or aggravated by what they feel is age discrimination. And it makes me wonder if there is some enlightenment that may help here? Despite any inner workings of time in terms of what Somatic Mosaicism may have done to this aged brain, I like to think some wisdom has been generated by all my learning. Whether the easy learnings from education, reading, or apprenticeship, or from the hard lessons from failure and life events, wisdom is at least one of the outcomes that have value.
While managing the Healthcare and Insurance P&L for a global service provider, I hired “an old guy” who had the wisdom of the US Healthcare System like no other I had ever met. (I did not and still do not know how old he was when I hired him.) He was my expert, and my team hero, in the healthcare domain. I recall what was said to me while playing golf with several BCBS CIOs at the Coeur d’Alene Golf Course. “You know this guy knows more than all the rest of us combined”. That was a reference to the “old guy” I hired. That is one of the best compliments I ever received. And the CIO was spot on.
So should you hire all “old guys”? Probably not. Even if that could provide a brain’s trust of wisdom, it would fall short of the power of diverse thought. Actually, I had the best team when I had the right mix of diverse people and ideas. Young whipper-snappers could spit out ideas faster than I could take them in. Experienced experts provided pros and cons, best practices, and lessons learned to contrast various ideas. People talented in specific areas provided the depth of knowledge to take an idea to the next level. And yes those long-in-the-tooth were able to provoke thoughtful discussion and learning.
So let us get back to why this matters for your business. It matters that you understand the value each person can bring to your business. And so you realize that value comes without bias or pre-conceived assumptions. Listen to a person, decide is s/he fits the needs and will be able to collaborate effectively within your business. Then be true to yourself and let results speak over any bias you may have had.
My career is in technology. And I know that hiring “tools” can also introduce bias. Look for the ones that do not ask anything about the person’s gender, race, age, or any other characteristic that may result in your losing an opportunity to hire the best person for the job. (If you’d like to try out one that we resell give me a shout and I will show you how it works to your advantage.)
In summary, the right mix of experience and talent cannot be found if bias is allowed to live in your hiring process. Let results speak for themselves. Furthermore, make sure any tech tools you use in your hiring process also do not allow for bias. My wisdom is grateful for all the wonderful diverse teams that I owe to all of my successes.