Are Troublemakers Good Hires?

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  Disruption is the buzzword of the current decade. Does that, therefore, mean that business is being infiltrated by rebels, by those, who don’t play by the rules and don’t care about the consequences? After all, they will be the ones to lead the way in a game where seemingly anything goes. Airbnb has over 800,000 accommodation listings in 190 countries – 700,000 of those listings have been added over the past year. In contrast, Hilton Worldwide has 690,000 rooms. Only 42,000 rooms have been added over the past year. The investment to open more hotels is huge, and opportunities…

 

Disruption is the buzzword of the current decade.

Does that, therefore, mean that business is being infiltrated by rebels, by those, who don’t play by the rules and don’t care about the consequences? After all, they will be the ones to lead the way in a game where seemingly anything goes.

Airbnb has over 800,000 accommodation listings in 190 countries – 700,000 of those listings have been added over the past year. In contrast, Hilton Worldwide has 690,000 rooms. Only 42,000 rooms have been added over the past year. The investment to open more hotels is huge, and opportunities are scarce. The investment to increase the Airbnb listings is minimal and the opportunity almost without limit.

This is disruption at its best, but it took a group of “troublemakers” to cook up the seemingly wacky idea: “Yeah, let’s arrange for total strangers to rent their rooms and houses out to other total strangers.” Off-the-wall concepts are being welcomed in boardrooms across the globe.

Companies know that everyone is implementing the tried-and-tested solutions. To truly get ahead, they have to do something different, they have to take risks and push the boundaries of what is accepted. During the recession, the scope for such decisions was minimal. There was little cash to invest, and most companies were in survival mode. You won’t see much innovation in this state.

However, with the economy spluttering back to life, the US and UK (in particular) are seeing wave after wave of new market entrants backed by wealthy VC funds, fighting for their part of the pie. The incumbent market leaders do have the choice to change their strategies, but can they really turn their current ranks of “steady eddies” into risk taking go-getters, unafraid to make the bold decisions and ready to fail a good few times before they get it right?

I would argue that the only true option for a company that is looking to make such a sea change in their direction is to hire some radically different individuals. Hence the question in the title. Are troublemakers good hires? Well, the word troublemaker may cloud your judgement somewhat. Trouble in the traditional sense of the word make be construed as carrying negative connotations, but here it simply means hiring people who are not afraid to shake things up and question the status quo.

We have to be right in the middle of the decade of “doing things differently”, and companies ignore these free-thinking individuals at their peril. Most of these “troublemakers” will naturally gravitate towards the start-up arena, but there are compulsive arguments to say that big corporates should be looking at start-ups as a source of these risk-seeking achievers.

Many have a track record of no-nonsense success – what could be better to give the oil tankers of the corporate world some impetus to change direction? Having said this, there are only certain roles in each department where troublemakers are required. Companies still need great operators to run them and a rock solid service culture to deal with their customers, but when it comes to strategy and change programmes, the disruptive influence is vital.

It is worth having a look at which roles you are recruiting for currently. Where is a disruptive influence required? Where do you need a creative voice? Where is the best place to find the troublemaker who will help you stay ahead of the competition? Troublemakers will make sure you are leading the change that is sweeping over our corporate world.

Steve Jobs said it best in one of my favourite quotes of his; “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

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