The Head-Fake

I received a meeting invite from the diversity manager to sit down and discuss how to communicate diversity to our executives more formally.  Apparently the VP of HR I previously met with suggested I be included in the brainstorming session, which was great.

In the Last Lecture, Randy Pausch talks about the “head fake” or indirect learning, which he explains that “the best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they’re learning something else.”  So I suggested using this method to teach our executives about diversity because the last thing we wanted was for executives to feel pressured to hire someone based on their ethnicity in order to address legal requirements, and potentially cause a backlash. 

My proposal to incorporate diversity into hiring managers’ thinking is to teach them how to identify the best talent. Setting aside the resume and physical appearance, we should ask our hiring managers to act as researchers or detectives to find out underlying skillsets that make great leaders.  Breaking these into three simple categories (albeit from a corporate perspective):

  • Industry experience: What variety of industries has the person worked in? How are these industries similar AND different from our own (medical device)?
  • Education: What kind of education did they receive? What region? Public or Private? Areas of Study including minors? Community College Transfers? What was their experience like? What is their learning & teaching (communication) style?
  • Culture: What different cultures have they encountered? (without asking specifically about their own culture) Where have they traveled? What global business experience have they had? What languages do they speak?

In addition to trying to uncover the broad and diverse history that contributes to the person’s skillset, hiring managers need to be aware of their own diversity and be careful not to seek familiar connections.  

Diversity isn’t about hiring that female or minority candidate. It’s about developing a broad perspective within your organization that helps foster innovation and creating an inclusive community where employees feel engaged. Because even though you’ve recruited that great candidate, retention is equally important (which I’ll save for another time).  

Avoid hiring your “shadow,” or a likeness of yourself. It may seem safe, but the pool of strong candidates is shrinking and its going to be harder to find someone that reminds you of you. Besides, why would you want a mini-me?

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