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Should HR Have Veto Power over Your Next Hiring Decision?

You’re a director of marketing. You’ve identified the perfect candidate for your content marketing manager opening, a position that requires a mix of creative storytelling skills, out-of-the-box thinking and a maverick streak. However, your organization insists on having a human resources (HR) representative in first and second round interviews—and perhaps beyond—to sanity-check your hand-picked candidate for “organizational fit,” whatever that means.

“In general, when HR is given veto authority on candidates selected by hiring managers, this represents a corporate culture that has deficient trust in its managers,” says Mason Wong, independent consultant, ZWD, a Silicon Valley HR firm. “I advise clients against such a process. Best practice is for in-house recruiting to screen applicants and identify traits the company doesn’t want among its employees before interviews with hiring managers.”

Unfortunately, HR has vetoed your pick in favor of some mediocrity that seems a safer bet from a “cultural” point of view. Does this make sense? And if it does, just what are the pros and cons of letting HR—or what’s sometimes euphemistically called people operations—have veto power over hiring choices of frontline business units like marketing?

Innovators and Adapters

Marketing exists as a function where creativity remains important. Absent out-of-the-box thinking, new models of industry and product promotion could not come about and business would grind to a halt, according to experts. Out-of-the-box thinkers are known as “innovators” on the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory, a creative thinking style assessment, according to Susan Robertson, consultant, Harvard instructor and senior faculty, Creative Problem Solving Institute. Companies should balance innovators and adapters, those who keep day-to-day operations running in order to function optimally, according to Robertson.

“Both extremes and everything in between are needed,” Robertson says. “If you have only high innovators, you’ll have lots of ideas, but none will get implemented. If you have only high adapters, you’ll have a well-oiled machine for daily tasks, but you’ll never have any breakthrough ideas, which is an invitation to disrupt your industry and put you out of business.”

As evidence, Robertson cites that of all the companies in the 1955 Fortune 500 index, 88 percent no longer exist. And with no company, there’s no culture.

Cultural Sameness or Diversity

Of course, company culture is important because it allows for harmony and reduces hostile work environments. However, just finding “birds of a feather” does not allow for much diversity and there is less likelihood to learn new skills that help companies thrive, according to HR experts.

“These companies will have the type of personality that tends to collide mostly with similar people,” says Remi Alli, founder, Brāv, an online platform to resolve conflicts at work. “Say you hire someone who likes to work independently and all your workers are like that—how will they work as a team? Or if a company hires people who prefer to be closely supervised, you end up with less time to work.”

Intuitively, the answer seems neither to hire all one kind of person nor that of another, but to have a mix of personalities. After all, the inscription on the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi reads, “All things in moderation.”

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