Should You Be Hiring ‘Disruptive Talent’?

Mark Freire

29th July 2015


In a recent BBC interview, Sir Richard Branson tried to encourage more UK companies to hire ‘disruptive talent’. He was describing individuals who think and act differently; who question conventional wisdom, innovate and push the boundaries to achieve success.

Such individuals can be a great commercial asset, but they also have a cost. They are by definition disruptive; often riling other employees and coming head-to-head with bosses as they push forward their ideas.

The IT and tech sector is a great place to find disruptive talent. Smart, motivated and super confident individuals who believe they can improve any system – as long as it is done their way. Many companies pass on such individuals on the basis of  ‘cultural fit’, but Sir Richard argues that those businesses are missing out.

So next time you interview a talented but potentially disruptive personality what should you do?

Here are the pros and cons of investing in ‘disruptive talent’.

How Disruptive Talent Can Transform Your Business

Efficiency

By definition disruptive individuals like to question the status quo. This makes them great at finding weaknesses and loopholes in existing systems. While questioning the way the business operates might upset co-workers and managers, it can drive efficiency and head-off future problems before they arise.

Innovation

Many businesses can get caught in the same way of thinking and doing. Taking on an individual who disrupts these patterns can lead directly to new ideas and innovation. The majority of new technological innovations come from people who don’t accept the norm and set out to do things differently.

Upping Everyone’s Game

In a comfortable workplace, not everyone is being pushed to do their best all of the time. Bringing in an energetic individual with fresh ideas and alternative approaches can create competition and push existing employees to sharpen up and keep up.

Getting Things Done

Those described as ‘disruptive talent’ tend to have a drive and determination to succeed. In an industry where major projects can face technological, financial and sometimes even legal obstacles – it can take a disruptive individual to push through and get things done to deadline.

The Dangers Of Hiring Disruptive Talent

Hiring The Right Person

During interview it can be difficult to tell the difference between disruptive talent, and individuals who are simply disruptive. If your new hire doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to match the attitude then you could be in for a lot of trouble.

Cultural Fit

Depending on your workplace, those with disruptive personalities are unlikely to slot easily into place. A finely balanced team can become easily destabilised by an individual who questions everything and bypasses the established hierarchy. Your other top performers may be unsettled by a new competitor who doesn’t display a respect for how things are done.

Difficult To Manage

In his interview, Sir Richard Branson acknowledged that disruptive talent can be difficult to manage and needs special treatment. Central to this is providing freedom. However without clear boundaries, over-confident individuals can easily overstep the mark, lose focus or undertake activity which could damage your company reputation.

Over-priced & Disloyal

Pioneering individuals do not lack self-confidence and could be prone to overestimating their value to the business. The biggest risk however is that they will want to invest in their own success. This can lead them to demanding equity share or simply starting their own rival business – potentially taking your customers’ with them.

Want to shake-up your hiring strategy? We can help. Over 14 years we have built up a strong and diverse network of IT and digital personalities at all levels of experience.

From talented young apprentices looking for a break, to tried and tested permanent and contract candidates ready for a new challenge. For more information please contact Lewis Fraser on lewisf@justit.co.uk, call a member of our team on 020 7426 9835 or complete the form below.

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