William Shakespeare wrote in his play, “All’s Well That Ends Well”, that “Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises.” This basically translates into the idea that when something doesn’t live up to your expectations, it’s disappointing. When we consider the expectations (subconscious or conscious) that a hiring manager may place on an incoming employee who reminds them of themselves,it is important to remember that your expectations of the relationship may be a key factor between disappointment and delight.
Let’s examine the German fairytale, “Snow White”, as an example of what can go wrong in this dynamic. In the story, an evil queen has a trusted magic mirror, andevery day asks the mirror to confirm that she is the “fairest in the land,” and every day the mirror does. Until one day, the magic mirror has to tell the queen that Snow White has surpassed her, and she is no longer the fairest. This makes the queen very angry – both with Snow White and with the magic mirror.
The relationship between a manager and new hire can fall into similar disrepair when the manager expects the new hire to be in passionate agreement with their opinions. It can be jarring and feel like betrayal for a manager when a new hire voices opinions in contrast to their own.
Take a look at the comedy film series, “Austin Powers”, as another example of what can go wrong. In the second film, Powers’ nemesis, Dr. Evil, develops a clone of himself that is one-eighth his size and twice as evil. He calls his clone, “Mini-me” and slowly begins to realize that his clone isn’t like him in personality at all. Eventually, Dr. Evil is unable to provide enough opportunities for mischief for Mini-me and the cloneends up creating trouble on his own that often gets in the way of Dr. Evil’s malicious plans.
The relationship between manager and new hire can be put under similar stress if the employee expects diverse learning opportunities from their new supervisor. This can lead to job dissatisfaction and force the employee to look for learning opportunities with other departments or functions, which may or may not be in the best interest of their manager’s team priorities.
It is widely regarded that if a manager surrounds themselves with reports who think, behave and work like they do, there will be capability gaps and a lack of diversity of thought within a team. However, when interviewing for a new position, it’s generally considered to be a good thing if a candidate and their would-be boss can connect over shared interests and even similar perspectives. So where do we draw the line?
It comes down to setting and managing expectations. A manager actually hiring in their likeness can cause just as many problems as a manager thinking they’re hiring in their likeness, but isn’t. The implications to those involved are just different. While it may be easier to connect with some colleaguesover others, it is important to remember that every professional is an individual with preferences and styles all their own.
Virginia Fraser is a professional marketer/writer for Insights, and an amateur career anthropologist. Virginia loves the learning and development industry’s ability to be business-driven and have social impact. She is passionate about sharing how people are affected, personally and professionally, through self-awareness and development opportunities.