I’m going to put this into a car analogy. Reliable is a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry. Flashy is a Chevy Camaro or a Dodge Charger. You really can’t be both. In the auto world the closest thing to being both is a Tesla, and most people can’t afford one of those!
You either lean one way or the other. If you want flashy, you are comfortable with the fact you might not get to work every day, because those cars tend to break down more often. If you want reliability, you probably aren’t turning any heads, but when you turn your key that engine is starting every time.
I find most people select people like they select cars. You are biased one way or the other, and find most people biased towards ‘flash’. They like the good looking people and the smooth talkers. Damn the results. That person made me turn my head! They must be ‘good’. Therein lies one of the major problem we have. Looking good has absolutely nothing to do with being good.
People look at that new Audi A8 and believe because it looks awesome, it must be awesome. Do a little research and it becomes a bust of a buy, because it constantly breaks down and has problems. They look at a Subaru Forester and think ‘boring’! Until they realize that thing will still be running well after you retire.
So, what I’m saying is people are basically cars, minus the extended warranty!
I tend to lean reliable. It’s not that I don’t like pretty people who speak well. I really do. But I really love people who come to work every day and bust ass. You can be both, you can be a Tesla, but let’s face it, most of us can’t afford that talent! We make offers to Camrys. No one pins up photos of Camrys in their bedrooms as a kid.
It’s just so easy to get sucked into flashy. They’re all bright and shiny, and smell good, and you feel better about them representing your brand, that is until they completely screw something up. Then you’re out there trying to explain why you hired them to begin with, knowing you can’t say the truth. “Well, have you looked at him!? He’s gorgeous! How could we not hire him.”
So, the question to you HR and Talent Pros – are you a Toyota Camry buyer or a Chrysler 200/Dodge Avenger buyer? Same exact price point, one is a considerably better buy than the other.
The funny part about this post is that it really only attempts to prove your bias towards “reliable” employees. I would suggest that the reason many are attracted to “flashy” (even the terminology is biased) is because these are the employees that don’t follow the status quo. They come up with new ideas, drive innovation and take the company to higher levels. High growth companies aren’t led by “reliable” people, they are driven forward by the “flashy” ones.
At the end of the day it all depends on what you’re hiring for. If I need someone to just get the work done day after day and just show up then I want reliable. However, if I want someone that’s going to take chances, push the limits of normal and think like an owner, I’ll take the “flashy” one.
Thanks for the comments. I tend to think I’m pretty good at knowing most of biases, but we all have blind spots. I’m actually lean on hiring more flashy myself, although I wish I was better at hiring reliable! I don’t think there is a correlation between flashy/ reliable and creative, though. Either type can be very creative.
That all being said, keep hiring flashy is it’s working for you!