The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Clone of Yourself
Come on, we have all thought it as entrepreneurs, at one point or another in our careers: “I just wished I could clone myself in finding new employees for my business. Nobody works harder than I do. Nobody is as smart as I am. I don’t trust anybody to make decisions or manage teams better that I do.”
Sound familiar? But is "cloning" yourself really the right solution for your hiring goals? There are clear advantages and disadvantages to a strategy like this, so you will need to figure out if cloning yourself will help or hurt your business, based on your business’s specific needs. Read on.
What exactly is cloning yourself?
Any of you fans of the Alien movie series? Remember in the fourth installment, Alien: Resurrection, when they manufacture a clone of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character 200 years after her death (from DNA samples of her blood saved in storage), to go kick some alien butt again? It is pretty much that, only for yourself, while you are still alive, building an army of lookalike “Yous” to go kick some competitors’ butts.
How does cloning manifest itself in your business?
Your clones are typically identified by you, personally or through your direction of your HR teams, during your recruiting process. First, through the job descriptions, with every bullet point sounding like you were actually describing yourself. Second, through the interview process, with you assessing every candidate as “is this person exactly like me”? And, third, through the onboarding process, with you training your new “Mini Me” (think Austin Powers), to do the job exactly the way you would do the job.
The advantages of cloning yourself.
There are many good reasons to try and clone yourself during your hiring process. Looking for another similar personality that will fit with yourself and the team culture you are trying to create. Looking for someone with exactly your same skillsets, that you trust to do the job required and potentially replace you down the road as your succession plan. Looking for someone who is an optimist on the prospects for your business and can cheerlead that vision to your team with the same fervor and passion that you would. As a few examples.
The disadvantages of cloning yourself.
For as many reasons you think cloning yourself is a good idea, I can envision an equal number of reasons cloning yourself could actually be a bad idea. Maybe you don’t need a “glass half full” optimist like yourself, that is going to tell you everything you want to hear. Maybe you need a “glass half empty” realist, who will bring a sense of caution to your investment decisions. Or, you may need a similar “A-Type Personality” to lead your sales team efforts, to help jazz up potential clients. But, maybe a “B-Type Personality” may be a better fit to manage your more introverted team of technology developers. Or, why hire someone with your exact same experiences or vantage point, because maybe someone else can help you better identify a better process or avoid known potential pitfalls based on their different past experiences. As a few examples.
What is the right path for your business?
To me, the decision whether or not to clone yourself comes down to a couple key things. First of all, what the business needs to be successful should outweigh everything else.
Let’s say you are hiring a head of finance, and one candidate has a dream resume and a track record of proven success for the position, but perhaps the personality is not as outgoing as yourself. But, another candidate has an okay resume, but a great personality fit. At the end of the day, who do you trust more to “have their hands on the steering wheel of your business”? The person that has solid experience and references, or the person that could do the job, but you would rather have a beer with? In a perfect world, you want everything you are looking for in one candidate. But, more times than not, you will only get 80 percent of what you are looking for in one candidate, and you have to be careful to prioritize what of the 20 percent they are missing is going to do the least damage.
Secondly, it comes down to what do you need personally. If you did a critical assessment of yourself, are you sure you really need a bunch of “Yous” running around the office. What do people say about you in your employee reviews from your peers? Are you creating more chaos than calm? Are you pulling the company in different directions all the time, without a clear focus?
Maybe what you really need is the opposite of yourself. You need your Anti-Me to help keep yourself organized, on plan and in check. It really comes down to what you see as your personal strengths and weaknesses, and filling in any voids in your skillsets. And, better yet, maybe it is less what you think about yourself, and more what your team thinks about you. So, man up, ask the tough questions, and get honest feedback from your peers, when needed.
I have tried to present both the plusses and minuses of cloning yourself in your business, and gave examples of when to do it, when not to do it. But, if you forced me to side one way or the other on this topic, with all other things being equal, if you can find people that share your same passion, vision, energy, work ethic and skillset, good things should surely follow. But, if you can’t find more “Yous” that is perfectly fine too. Greatness comes in many different shapes and sizes. Having new ideas and fresh perspectives can be equally invigorating for your business.