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Don't Hire People Just Like You 'Mirror-hiring' has its positives, but a diverse work force can enhance innovation and productivity.

By Dr. David G. Javitch

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you recruit and hire new employees, do you often find that you're searching for people just like you? Similar in mannerisms, appearance, intelligence and culture? Perhaps also possessing the same educational background, experiences and maybe even gender, race and religion?

If you do hire employees this way, then rest assured that you're not alone. At the same time, however, you're also just like many bosses who are selling themselves and their companies short.

You are doing what I call "hiring by looking in the mirror."

Let's examine these "mirror-hiring" decisions more closely. There are several very positive reasons to hire "clones." Clearly, you know what you want in a good recruit. You know what works in your company in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, outlooks and behaviors.

In addition, you've noted that your mirror-hires possess proven attributes that have been practical and effective for your organization. You employed people with like personal and professional qualities, throwing away the failures, but keeping the successes. Those policies have led to satisfaction, achievement and profitability.

In brief, you know what leads to top-notch performance and victory. Therefore, it's easy to believe, if you take that philosophy one step further, that the more candidates you hire with your specific set of skills, the more successful you and your company will be. They'll have fewer arguments and need less time to understand each other. They'll communicate better and achieve more. Moreover, they'll probably have similar interests, want to interact more and either work more independently or collaboratively, depending on the culture you've established.

On the other hand, by hiring a clone, you may be missing out on a number of opportunities that may prove difficult and problematic. That's because for the sake of conformity, you might be rejecting people with skills both complementary and supplemental to your company that would permit its culture to grow and expand with outcomes that could create a more productive, innovative, challenging and rewarding environment.

When you adhere strictly to a narrow hiring profile, too much "likeness" can lead to corporate "in-breeding." The inevitable result is that the new hires look like, think like and act like you, the boss. This "group think" situation results in employees not challenging each other, not asking enough "why" questions, settling for agreement where disagreement would conceivably produce more options, perspectives, opinions and viewpoints. Often, people reject good but "different" ideas, or worse, they never voice divergent opinions because they would appear "dissimilar" and therefore unacceptable.

Though "mirror hiring" may help you resolve an issue or take action more quickly, with all this uniformity, what happens to innovation and creativity? And what happens to risk-taking? Who becomes the "devil's advocate" who can propose alternate lines of reasoning or different goals?

This is a crucial suggestion that you, the successful entrepreneur, might use to avoid too much in-breeding and conformity that can hinder productivity, innovation and profitability.

Consider being open to diversity, not just in terms of race, gender or sexual orientation, but also in terms of skills, attitudes, interests, backgrounds and experiences. Appreciate that each person can bring a unique--yes, sometimes individually different--approach to the workplace.

Employees with differences can appropriately challenge each other more often and quite effectively. Differences can cause people to think, act and feel in new and different ways. Innovation, productivity, morale and satisfaction can increase when diversity exists in a collaborative atmosphere. The key words here are "collaboration" and "innovation."

Differing opinions can spark new thoughts and ideas for processes, procedures, products and services, but everyone still needs to work toward a common goal. And, if you, the entrepreneurial boss, are willing to take the chance to try something new in your hiring, many competitive bottom-line opportunities can unfold.

As Apple's motto used to say, "Think Different."

Dr. David G. Javitch is an organizational psychologist, leadership specialist, and President of Javitch Associates in Newton, Mass. Author of How to Achieve Power in Your Life, Javitch is in demand as a consultant for his skills in assessment, coaching, training and facilitating groups and retreats.

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