You will want to hire people like you when you’re an entrepreneur.
Leveraging social capital to build your founding team makes it easy to hire people like you. People with your values, background and a substantially similar knowledge base can benefit you, the founder. You’ll have a common language, communication may be more comfortable, it will take less time to get those new hires up to speed, and you will have greater confidence in their ability to achieve your goals and objectives (Wasserman, 2012). Hiring people like you might seem to be a smart business choice.
When you hire people like you are probably hiring them because you have had a good working relationship in the past. You hire people you like and people with whom you enjoy working. You hire them because your experience tells you they are good at their work. You hire them because although they have different areas of expertise—sales, marketing, or finance—they are likely to have similar backgrounds, networks, and possibly industry knowledge. Arguably, this may give you an advantage at first. Surrounding yourself with people like you when you’re risking everything else to get your business off the ground will provide some comfort. On the surface, this seems rational; homogeneous teams may make things a little easier initially but are likely to cause stress as your business grows.
Hiring people like you means you may be hiring people who have not just similar strengths but also similar weaknesses. Hiring people like you may also mean few will challenge your view of market opportunities, customer targets, or product features and benefits. People like you will tend to see the world in much the same way as you. And this might mean you miss business opportunities because hiring people like you limits your ability to see much of anything different than you may see it. Hiring people too much like you may well restrict your long-term business success.
Hire people who have different backgrounds, education, and experiences. Hire those with a different worldview and attitude and from a different place in the community and the world. Cultivate this diversity within your company because it is this diversity that will help you identify and exploit opportunities for business growth. Hire people whose strengths bolster your weaknesses. Hire people who do things differently than you, who challenge your thinking, who push your buttons, who make you question your decisions. And listen to them. Surprising as it may seem at times, you do not have all the answers. The input of others—people who are not like you—can make you a better in business, a stronger leader, and often, a better person.
When you surround yourself with people like you, you will get a company built in your image. And as enticing as this might sound, it will likely limit your ability to achieve those business goals to which you aspire. Don’t give in to the desire to hire people like you.
Wasserman, N. (2012). The Founder’s Dilemma. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
2 thoughts on “Hiring People Like You”
I really enjoyed reading this post! Your writing is fluid and easy to read, and I love the hyperlinked words that so seamlessly brought me to further relevant content. Your ideas that hiring people like you comes naturally, and increases comfort levels is spot on. Your ideas that this can spell disaster for companies is also right on the money. By bringing in people ‘like’ you, you are potentially creating gaps in the companies foundation. I would also point out that while homogeneous teams make it easier in the startup phases of a company, it may also make conflicts less overall. With heterogeneous teams it is imperative that a common vision, and value system is in place and honored, less you spend more time bringing the ‘team’ together than is optimal. With heterogeneous teams, there are often some conflicts that arise especially with certain personalities and backgrounds combinations. Although I would point out that great things grow from the womb of adversity.
Thanks for pointing out the pros and cons of each type of team makeup. Well done!
Thanks for the kind comments. And I agree that adversity can be a great foundation for successful teams. Providing those teams are not afraid of the storms. Check out: https://www.davidharkins.com/fear-of-storming/ for additional insights on kick-starting a high-performing team.
All the best,