In a landscape that must consider brain drain, competition for talent, AI and machine learning, there is a single phenomenon lying quietly beneath the surface. It has the potential to be more damaging than all of the aforementioned issues combined.
Groupthink is not a new concept, but one going largely unchallenged during a time when innovative business strategies are at their most needed. It occurs when independent thinking is overruled in preference of harmony – and when constructive conflict is not deemed valuable to the decision-making process. People gradually drift towards the same ideas and styles of thinking, putting aside changes that may upset the status quo.
While clearly keeping the peace, groupthink is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, it limits continuous improvement, creativity and potential within a market. While great opportunities can be missed, risks are also overlooked because overconfidence prevails. Success becomes limited to the parameters in which a business currently operates.
Groupthink tends to occur in homogeneous groups, and is a particular concern for industries and companies that lack diversity. Financial services firms have long struggled with this. Groupthink was cited as a major contributor to the 2008 financial crisis, as institutions failed to recognise risks and challenge behaviours. And even today, we hear far too much about companies still operating in silos.
From a recruitment perspective, groupthink is a major concern for diversity. Other teams, industry sectors and even qualifications become undesirable without being validated by the general consensus, and as a result, conformity and affinity biases multiply.
In reinforcing these stereotypes, companies can never access the diverse talent pools that they need to break the cycle.
For companies to diversify, it’s important they actively question whether their hiring decisions are based on finding people who fit the mould. We learn more authentically from people who think differently, so it’s important to bring fresh ideas and ways of processing information into the mix. Beyond challenging our biases, practical application of inclusive recruitment techniques can help to attract wider talent pools into businesses. And in turn, your hiring process will continually adapt to embrace atypical skill sets, candidates and points of view.
Hiring managers and recruiters can also challenge groupthink by placing more value on acquired diversity – recognising the benefits of lived experiences and candidates from varied backgrounds. Rather than continuously searching within the same markets, companies should open the doors to candidates with cross-functional, cross-sector or international experience. Businesses should also be embracing cognitive diversity, the conscious assessment of different interpretations or management styles.
Contractors and interims are another great way to offset groupthink within your wider operation. Contractors can drive change through the kind of ‘professional naivety’ that comes with being an expert, but not in the company at hand. This enables them to question fundamental practices that could be improved but haven’t because ‘it’s the way they’ve always been done’. Non-permanent workforce's also enable rapid deployment and focus on outcomes, while not getting caught up in company politics. This impartiality is key when considering issues of business improvement.
All too often, you hear a request for an interim who will not be afraid to ‘ruffle a few feathers’, and it begs the question ‘why?’. Is this due to knowledge, experience or a culture of fear?
When uniformity seems comfortable, try something new. Avencia delivers strategies that help you continuously improve your workforce, and, with time, the way your recruitment adapts to market change. Combine rapid access to interim talent with an inclusive recruitment approach that really works. Talk to Avencia today.