Why I'm glad my latest hire isn't a mum
As you may already know, we recently hired a fantastic young copywriter called Sam. Sam is a student in his 20s. He's a guy and he doesn't have any kids. And I couldn't be happier. Why? No, it's not because I think women or parents or people older than 30 are somehow inferior! If you're looking for controversy, you're in the wrong place.
I launched this agency when I was 36 years old and a new mum to 9-month-old twins. Our ops manager Liz had four amazing kids and Rosie, our account manager, has two. Mums are awesome! But I like the fact that adding a younger, male member of staff to the business gives us a fresh perspective that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.
Variety is the spice of life
Back when it was just Liz and I in the office, we did a Myers Briggs style personality quiz online. Yes, I know that this isn’t the same as the full, official Myers Briggs test and I also know that Myers Briggs isn’t about putting people in boxes. But it gave us some really interesting insights.
I came out as an ENTJ, “an efficient organiser focused on strategic optimisation”. Ideal for a business leader, right? As an ISTJ Liz was described as a “thorough and responsible administrator” - perfect for her then role as assistant and later operations manager.
Even in the short time we had been working together at that point, I saw just how brilliantly her skills balanced mine. Where I get excited by ideas and big picture thinking, Liz is more detail oriented - she's a whiz with spreadsheets and data, something I find boring and therefore mostly ignore even though I know they’re important.
Since Liz joined the team we've developed policies, processes and systems that have been essential to our growth. Likewise though, we wouldn't have got here without my drive and determination, my vision and so on.
Then there were three
One thing I know never to ask Liz to do is network. For an introvert, being asked to hang out making strategic small talk in a room full of strangers is actual torture. I don't mind networking but I'm not especially good at it.
Enter Rosie. Rosie was born to network. As an ESFJ - or “concerned and supportive people person” - she's a fantastic listener and has a real head for names and faces, not to mention details like where you're going on holiday and how many kids you've got. She's also extremely well connected and always has a contact she can pass on that will prove helpful in some way.
Rosie's skills have been a brilliant addition to the team, bringing a new element that I could only hope for the day we asked her to join us. And the fact that all three of us are mums of around the same age made for a fun working environment.
Going beyond yourself
When Sam started interning for us, we asked him if he'd mind doing the test too. His type? ENFP, a “quirky and verbally fluid people person” (think Hunter S Thompson, Aldous Huxley and Salman Rushdie).
Once again, we'd somehow managed to stumble on someone who was different again, not just in gender and life circumstance but also personality type. It wasn't the only reason we ended up asking him to officially join the team - the fact that he’s a fantastic writer was top of the list, plus he’s super nice! - but it was a bonus.
It's tempting to hire people who are similar to us because we understand them and have lots in common. But this can be dangerous. A fellow business owner was once talking to me about their first ever hire. “It’s fantastic, she’s exactly like me!” the excited new boss proclaimed. A few months later we caught up and I asked how the new team member was doing. “Terrible,” she said. “We’re just too much alike.”
Of course we want to work with people who we get on with and feel comfortable with. But the reality is that a business is more than a social group - it's a team that needs to function effectively. And for that to happen, there needs to be a range of personalities and skill sets that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
So, the title of this post is not quite as controversial as it sounds. I'm glad my latest hire isn't a mum - but only because it means he brings something new and makes our little team that much richer.
Want to read more? Try this - 3 important lessons I learned about leadership on holiday