4 Warning Signs That Your Hiring Team is Suffering from Groupthink

Finding the “needle” of top legal support talent in the “haystack” of available candidates can be tough. While many law firms and legal departments seek to alleviate the pressure by assigning a committee to handle hiring, the attendant risk is that the committee itself will succumb to the pressures of “groupthink” – a situation in which pat agreement with the group substitutes for the critical thinking skills of its members.

Here are four warning signs your team may be suffering from groupthink when it comes to hiring:

The team attempts to rationalize a questionable hire.

Perhaps a candidate is well liked but lacks the skills and experience to succeed fully in the position. Or perhaps a candidate has a stellar resume, but doesn’t seem to “click” well with anybody in the organization. If this candidate has somehow risen to the top of the pile nonetheless, it’s time to ask whether the hiring team can justify the decision, or whether they are merely convincing one another to accept this candidate.

How to Fix It: Talk to hiring team members individually about the candidate. Also, talk to a recruiting firm, which can help you find candidates who offer a better “fit” – thus lowering the risk of a disastrous “top” hire.

The team suffers from an internal pressure to conform.

When objections within the hiring team are quickly silenced by the other members, objectors may soon learn to keep their opinions to themselves. But when those opinions point out serious problems, losing them can be disastrous. Watch for this problem when the hiring process has dragged on and a “just get it over with” mentality has set in.

How to Fix It: Shortening the hiring process and keeping it moving can both reduce the risk. Your staffing firm can help by prescreening candidates and offering tips for effective interviewing.

The team rejects candidates who aren’t “just like us.”

When a law firm or legal department runs well, it’s tempting to keep hiring staff who are “just like us,” even when change is needed or a critical skills gap looms. While cultural “fit” is necessary, so are fresh ideas and new abilities.

How to Fix It: Focus on the needed changes, not onlyon a “just like us” fit. Your staffing firm can help you strike the balance between a good match and a duplication of existing staff.

The team starts to censor itself.

Being the only dissenting voice can make a team member feel as if they must be wrong, especially if they are young or lack seniority. When dissenters don’t speak out, the team may believe it’s reached a unanimous and therefore “correct” decision when it has done neither.

How to Fix It: Encourage honest, forthright sharing of opinions. Assume that if one team member voices a doubt, at least one other team member shares it. And talk to your recruiter about ways to encourage communication during the hiring process.

At Kent Legal, our experienced recruiters connect law firms and legal departments to top talent in the Toronto area. Contact us today to learn more.

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