Why You Shouldn’t Be Aiming To Hire a Team Of Super Chickens

Why You Shouldn’t Be Aiming To Hire a Team Of Super Chickens

Building a team of highly driven, super productive over achievers sounds like the dream for any organisation right?

Get a bunch of brilliant people all working together and they’ll do amazing things, or so you’d think.

Back in the 1990’s a biologist, William Muir, was curious about productivity and decided to run an experiment on productivity, collaboration and chickens.

He had two groups of chickens. A group of 9 ‘average chickens’ who produced an average number of eggs, and 9 ‘Super Chickens’ who via continuous breeding laid an above average number of eggs.

The average chickens lived in one pen and the super chickens in another. They were left to get on with their day to day lives with no interference.

At the end of the study, the average groups of chickens were plump, well feathered, healthy and actually producing more eggs than they were at the start of the experiments.

The Super Chickens group was in disarray, only three of them had survived after aggressive attacks and in-fighting. The Super Chicken group had basically pecked each other to death.


So what has this got to do with hiring?

This experiment is a spot on metaphor for what can happen in the workplace. There’s this common misconception that if you just cram a bunch of high flyers into a team that you’ll get incredible results. That’s not often the case. 

When you’ve got a team full of these so-called Super Chickens, you often find they're more interested in outshining each other than working together. It’s all about being top dog, or top chicken in this case. They favour competition over collaboration. 

And let’s face it, big egos can lead to big clashes. Teams need diversity in skills and personalities, not a bunch of people all trying to out do each other. 

So, What’s the Alternative?

It's not about avoiding hiring talented people. Far from it. It’s about balance. It’s about finding people who can not only shine on their own but also elevate those around them. 

Soft skills like communication, empathy, and the ability to collaborate are just as important as technical prowess. Sometimes even more so. 

Diversity of thought is critical, get a mix of people in there. Different backgrounds, different ways of thinking. 

Create an environment where teamwork is king. Encourage your team to share ideas, to support each other. It’s about building a culture where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Sure, skills are important, but how someone fits into the team is crucial. You want someone who can play nice with others, who can be part of that jigsaw puzzle, bear this in mind when hiring. 

So, what’s the takeaway from all this chicken talk?

Simple. When hiring, don’t just look for Super Chickens.

Look for people who can contribute to the flock, who can work together to create something greater.

It’s about building a team where everyone’s strengths are used, and weaknesses are supported.

Because at the end of the day, a team of well-rounded, collaborative individuals will outperform a team of Super Chickens every time.


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