Hire to Complement (Not Clone) in Business and at Work

One of the best business and career moves I made nearly 20 years ago was to hire a Corporate Recruitment Manager skilled in online candidate search and sourcing. Not only did this talented manager bring our Corporate Recruitment function to the next level, she also significantly broadened my own skill set as her manager by teaching me what she knew. And until I hired her, I had not crossed paths with her in the local business community – I didn’t know her until she applied for the job. (Another example of, contrary to urban myth and periodic ribbing from friends and my family, I don’t know all 500,000 residents of the Tech Valley – Albany, NY region. Recruiting in this area for over 25 years does drive me to pipeline and maintain professional connections with the talented people I meet as potential candidates, which contributes to that myth.)

During that same career period, a certain chunk of employee relations time has been devoted to the impact of hiring friends and family of company leaders and/or founders.  More often than not, it works out great – both the company leader and their friends and/or family have great boundaries and the accompanying emotional intelligence – at work, you can’t discern the impact of the relationship(s) at all on other employees, or the business. Even with those positive factors, the rest of the employees still know that a certain executive or a certain employee is personally connected to the CEO: and even if there’s no preferential treatment (and in some cases, the CEO is harder on the employees connected to them), the perception of preferential treatment remains. However, consistently ethical and fair treatment of all employees (including but not limited to the CEO recusing themselves when there’s a performance issue with one of their personal hires, and consequently accepting the corrective action recommended by the rest of the leadership team) can significantly diminish this perception.

With weaker or no boundaries, these hires can impact an organization more negatively by confirming the worst fears of the other employees, including but not limited to:

  • Employees who are hired in the company leader’s own image, telegraphing that if you don’t share the gender, ethnicity, etc. of the CEO, your status is not as important (an often-difficult choice for the company leader, whose intention is usually to surround themselves with people they know and trust, however the impact can be otherwise);
  • Such hires who proceed to bully and/or demean other employees they perceive don’t have the same power / status as they do;
  • Such hires who believe / feel that the organization’s guidelines and rules don’t apply to them because of their special relationship with the company’s leader, which often results in internal theft of company time and assets, harassment incidents, etc. – you get the drift. The accompanying cost in terms of lost productivity, corrective action and overall turnover can be significant.

How do you hire to complement (not clone) to best support your organization’s success and that of all of your employees, in business and at work?

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