Birds of a feather flock together.
People are drawn to others who are like them, it is human nature, it is in our instincts. Thus, it is not surprising that founders would be inclined to build a team of individuals with common threads. It’s natural yes, but as with everything, homogeneity offers up both benefits and risks.
Often for founders, homogeneity means filling positions with friends and family. The most obvious problem founders face when hiring these people is that existing relationships can get in the way of business decisions. Beyond this common occurrence though is homogeneity that involves choosing individuals who are not friends and family, but are highly relatable in other ways, such as demographical or behavioral qualities. Why do founders go this route?
It’s quick and easy…
Well of course building a company is not going to be quick and easy, and finding the right people to join the team will never be a brisk and breezy. There is work to be done, hard work. However, one of the benefits of homogeneous teams is they most certainly forge the path of least resistance. Going with what they know, can save a founder a ton of time as they attempt to build a successful and effective team. Working with and communicating with individuals that one can relate to on some level is significantly easier, a certain level of trust exists by default. Homogeneity can also make creating an ideal culture simpler, and while culture is important, one built on the idea that a team should be made up of strictly relatable individuals can leave other desirable aspects of a successful team, neglected.
It comes with some risks…
Homogeneity can limit diversity, an important value for many businesses and companies. Diversity can facilitate out-of-box thinking and increased creativity within teams, more diverse teams will breed more diverse thoughts. In Harvard Business Review’s article “Why Hiring for Cultural Fit Can Thwart Your Diversity Efforts”, author Celia de Anca discusses how hiring for cultural fit or homogeneously can cause two major issues. A team that is based on personality cohesiveness rather than a team focused on the completion of and the success of the goals and work at hand. The second problem, founders can miss out on those individuals who do not fit the mold, the ones that could bring new and unique ideas. That’s a risk they should not be willing to take.
Founders must make the hard decisions and realize when choosing to build or partially building a team on homogeneity is a solid plan and when it is not. There should be a balance, and if done correctly the founder can build a team that is both diverse and culturally sound.
The Founder’s Role
There is no question when it comes to whether a founder should be involved in the building of their team. A big part of a successful business is the people who work within it. Hiring the right people, for the right positions, at the right time is essential. The individuals that make up a team are just as much assets as the building or equipment. Therefore, founders should find themselves with a highly involved position in building their team, selecting their cast members, and making sure they are the best individuals for the team. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch is not just about fruit. Having hardworking team players, A-Players, will not only make for a desirable environment for everyone to be effective and productive in, but it is also helpful in attracting additional quality talent. Founders should be excited in having a role in building their team, the level of return on this investment of time and energy could really make or break a business.
Anca, C. D. (2016, April 25). Why Hiring for Cultural Fit Can Thwart Your Diversity Efforts. Retrieved October 09, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2016/04/why-hiring-for-cultural-fit-can-thwart-your-diversity-efforts
Herrenkohl, E. (2010). How to hire A-players: finding the top people for your team–even if you don’t have a recruiting department. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Wasserman, N. (2012). The Founder’s Dilemmas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.