Hiring For Fit
Human nature genetically nudges people to want others to believe the same things that they do. History shows the attraction of like-minds in action with the founders of kingdoms, religious leaders and missionaries, politicians, and debaters all trying to bring others into their realms of beliefs. This striving to attract or create kindred spirits further validates a person’s beliefs and reinforces their self-worth. It also creates a sense of calm in their own personal worlds.
Alike minds are mirrored in workplaces across the globe. Managers hate dealing with personnel conflicts. Deep down, managers are more comfortable and prefer focusing on the work at hand. People with different beliefs tend to cause conflict with one another and disrupt the natural flow of teamwork. But is that really true?
Work environment bliss is a false narrative. There is no quicker way to stagnation than surrounding oneself with replicas. Diversity of thought and backgrounds can provide a deep contrast and rich context into society. Diversified mindsets force organizations out of looking at the world through their own rose-colored glasses and through the actual lens of the world. The only price to pay is the effort and skill needed to nurture an organization where everyone thinks differently.
In actuality, we tend to only hire mirrors of ourselves. Mirrors are people who have the same background and experiences and think the same way. Easy to align, mirrors make managing a team a thoughtless process. However, while they can make an organization more efficient, they also make the organization more one-dimensional.
Organizations and managers may fool themselves by striving to meet diversity hiring goals. They hire for quotas, searching for extrinsic rewards or self-validation. They tell employees to bring their full selves to work, but they truly have no interest in the employees and their perspectives. No matter who the employee is, the default approach is to force them into a narrow typecast and tell them not to make any noise and to sit and color within the lines.
Inevitably and naturally, people hire for fit with the organization. The concern is about whether the new person will have the same values and beliefs. Schoolhouse cliques work the same way, and the phrases used when discussing new candidates could have been taken from the scripts of a high school movie on bullying: “Can they join the club, or are they not the right material?”
Echo chambers model society’s desire to associate only with people who think alike. While inherent in our genetics of tribalism to make us feel safe, it is also a desire that mankind overcame to move beyond the caves and into cities in the great dropping of fear of being around people who may have different beliefs than our own.
Interviewees wanting jobs long ago figured out that their only defense is to mimic their interviewers’ behaviors. Even a poorly trained eye can tell when they are being played to, but sometimes an interviewers ego overwhelms their decision-making, and they accept the mirroring as admission into their club. Those who receive passage into hire-for-fit cultures get to walk into oppressive cultures. There, they will continue to live in the shadows of silenced opinions simply to fit in and be accepted. Coerced into other beliefs, they reside as shells of their previous selves.
Psychologically, mirroring your employer could simply be wanting to fit in with cubemates and a need for belonging. Within weeks, a new employee knows what they can and cannot say and share.
Should we have someone in charge of hiring decisions who is scared of people who have different life outlooks? Can the organization survive with manufactured blind spots and decreased empathy? The better question is this: Would the organization sign up for mediocrity purposely?
Some hiring managers use their positions of power for what they believe to be good by advancing others with kindred beliefs. This is egotistical in nature and reeks of ignorance of the world outside their own. It resembles the first time a tourist sets foot in a different country and can only comment on how it differs from their own.
Beyond the buzz phrase of bringing, one’s full self to work, there is great benefit to hiring unique people and letting them be unique in the office. Hiring someone different who doesn’t fit in simply means that the focus shifts to creating an environment where people can authentically be who they are.
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