Too often in my career I’ve seen managers struggle because they don’t surround themselves with the right people. It’s the goal of this post to stimulate your thinking on this topic. Who are the right people?
I’m sure you’ve heard the advice, “You shouldn’t hire people like yourself.” That sounds like wisdom at a cocktail party, but it’s so oversimplified it’s of no use. Don’t listen to it. You should hire people who are like you in certain ways.
We’re talking about the issue of fit. Direct reports who are the best natural fit for you will definitely be like you in certain ways. One of my clients, a hotel general manager, had an intense drive for continuous improvement. He was never satisfied. If his direct reports didn’t share this drive, they were not a good fit for his style.
Difficulties arise when managers mistakenly look for things that shouldn’t matter. Is the person an enthusiastic sports fan? Are they in my generation? Are they a morning person? Were they in a sorority? In most cases, you should be completely unconcerned whether someone is like you in these respects.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about who’s right for you.
- What kind of person thrives under your unique leadership style?
- What weaknesses/deficiencies can you just not tolerate?
- How will this person fit with your team?
- Is this someone you’re willing to trust?
- Would you look forward to working with this person every day?
- What strengths do they bring that compliment your strengths?
The last item, complimentary strengths, is the area in which you should very intentionally seek people who are not like you. This is how you produce synergy.
If you can answer the questions listed above, you can determine whether someone is the right person to report to you, and you can quit worrying about the degree to which they’re like you or not like you.
Thanks for reading. As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.