Building a Diverse Team To Breed Innovation

In this golden age of innovation, companies are starting to realize just how critical diversity is to their growth and success. According to Business Insider, studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative, more focused on facts, and make decisions more carefully. If your company is not prioritizing diversity in the hiring process, you could be missing out on a lot of new ideas. HR strategist and diversity expert Dr. Linda Sharkey says, “if hiring managers are smart, they’ll use the diverse talent pool to push the company forward in new, positive directions. If they don’t? They’ll fail.”

Here are some hiring strategies for creating diverse teams that will contribute to your company’s growth:

Understand the Downside to Referrals

Bringing someone in who was referred to you can make things a lot easier, as he or she comes pre-vetted and you can start the hiring process having already learned a lot about them from a trusted source. While getting referrals to fill a position can be easy and effective for some positions, it’s important to consider how an exclusively referral-based hiring system can limit diversity. According to this article on employee referrals, people tend to gravitate towards others who are similar to them, so hiring people who are already connected to people in your company could breed homogeneity. There’s no need to abandon the referral process entirely, just consider how it could potentially limit diversity.

Consider Strengths and Weaknesses

You probably know the strengths and weaknesses of the people on your own team, so take this into consideration when interviewing a new candidate. Certain strengths will be more beneficial to your team than others, just as certain weaknesses will be more detrimental, but it is also a good idea to try to hire people with strengths that your existing team members do not have. Always ask candidates what they think their top strengths and a few of their weaknesses are, then consider how these might complement those of the people they would be working with. As Glenn Llopis said in this Forbes article, teams are most innovative when they learn “to apply the differences that exist in one another for their own successes and that of the organization.”

Ask For an Idea in the Interview

Ask candidates what they would do differently or what changes they would make if they were in the role you are hiring for. This will tell you a lot about their knowledge of the company/position, their knack for innovation, and their willingness to advocate for change. As Robert Richman says, “innovation is fueled by identifying problems, not coming up with ideas.” Seeing a candidate’s ability not only to identify a problem and open they are in communicating it can show you a lot about how they might treat problems later on. This can also be a good way to get a genuine and unscripted response, as they will have to switch gears from flattering your company to critiquing it.

Consider Personality

While hiring people with different strengths and ideas can be good for company culture, make sure that you still pay attention to how personalities might interact. For example, while hiring a bubbly extrovert who focuses on the big picture seems like a good compliment to a quiet and detail-oriented employee, make sure these people aren’t going to drive each other insane if they have to collaborate frequently. Pay attention to how you can bring new ideas and strengths into your company, but don’t lose sight of how new candidates’ personalities would fit in with the existing culture.

Remember that diversity begins with the hiring process, but doesn’t end there. Utilize the practices above to build a diverse team, then continue to encourage employees to collaborate and share ideas openly. Check out this article to learn how to maintain a diverse culture that moves your company forward.

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