Say no to yes-men: contrarian candidates can be constructive

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You can’t just have a company of meek yes-men; sometimes a dissenting voice is not necessarily an unhealthy one 

The fmcg landscape is almost unrecognisable from this time last year. The drive toward a market hegemony shared by fewer and fewer larger companies has quickened as 2018 has progressed. Coca-Cola’s recent Costa Coffee deal is just the latest in a long line of acquisitions over the past few years, including brands such as Dasani, Glaceau Smartwater and Powerade.

Taken at face value, companies eating up the market share of others spells only bad news for the smaller fish, running independent providers and SMEs into the ground as they march on. This is, however, not always the case. The relentless programme of acquisitions has done little to halt Coca-Cola’s diminishing sales over the past couple of decades. It finds itself a little bloated - and not just because of the carbonation.

There are advantages small to medium-sized enterprises hold over their larger counterparts. An SME’s increased agility means that it can, by and large, respond quicker to prevailing market conditions. As the CEO of an SME, I am well-placed to judge - if not entirely impartial!

Introducing change at work? Make sure staff are part of it

Amazon has also been taking larger strides into grocery of late - expanding its Whole Foods delivery service to the point where it is now available in 48 US cities. CEO Jeff Bezos has made the news recently for a variety of reasons thanks to Amazon’s seemingly unstoppable rise. His latest revelation involves his hiring policy. Declaring that he doesn’t mind employing people who are “a little bit annoying”, Bezos goes as far to say that his hiring managers sometimes favour candidates that demonstrate a rebellious streak.

Across any industry, not least mine of sales and recruitment, the importance of hiring candidates from varying backgrounds with differing experiences has long been emphasised. The importance of hiring non-conformist and often contrarian candidates has been championed less. Yes, the people who work for a company need to buy into its vision. But you can’t just have a company of meek yes-men; sometimes a dissenting voice is not necessarily an unhealthy one to have.

It is natural to seek out perspectives that align with our own. When hiring though, it is important to recognise the oft-neglected value of those that have the potential to rock the boat or steer conflict. It’s often a constructive asset.

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