I have always been a believer in the idea that “it’s all about the people” when it comes to the success of an organization.
It doesn’t matter if the organization has two people or two hundred thousand people, the same principle applies.
Once upon a time, I spent the better part of 7 years working in Human Resources, so I got the opportunity to hire a lot of people. I have hired thousands of people so this means even more interviews. The thought of that just gave me the chills! The point is that I got a first-hand account of how the dynamic between people effects departments, locations, and even entire companies.
What does any of this have to do with you and your startup?
I think “skill” is an easy set of criteria to hire for, compared to “fit.” Think about it. How can you define the fit that you are looking for on paper? It’s a difficult thing to articulate because some of us (me included) rely heavily upon a “gut feeling” with this process. This is actually what I do and it has served me incredibly well.
I once had a boss tell me that “anyone can learn the hard skills, but the soft skills are what you really want to pay attention to.” This has stuck with me because it made a lot of sense then, and it still does today. If it stops making sense, I will do something new. When I look to add another member of my team, some of the things I look for are a sense of humor and a hyper responsive approach to their role. Why? I know that that these things are important to me personally, so I know that it will allow me to maintain some of the virtual culture that I have worked to build.
Did you notice that I didn’t focus on a list of apps and tools that someone has used? It’s not the most experienced person that I look for in a hire because other people will have those same skills, maybe with just a little less time. However, no two people have the same personality. In addition to fit, I focus on trying to surround myself with organized people who are strong where I am not. The personality piece of the equation is huge!
What good does it do any of us to surround ourselves with a bunch of clones just like us?
I do not claim to have all of the right answers about this topic or anything else, but there seems to be a never ending revolving door in startups of all sizes. I feel like I have always had a good grasp on hiring good people. So I will share some strategies with you now, in hopes that it will help you too.
Strategies to implement today:
- Start searching for cultural fit ahead of skill set. Perhaps this feels backwards but try it anyways because what you are doing may not be working.
- Pay attention to the very first conversation because it will tell you everything. If someone is responsive and motivated when you first speak to them, it’s a great sign. On the other hand, if the opposite is true this will offer you a peek into your future with this person (it won’t improve).
- Seek out intrinsically motivated people. This really keeps the spirit up, across the board. I don’t have time to constantly pump someone up, so I seek people who are optimistic even about the little things. It’s all about the little things.
- Find people who want to “own their process” because as long as you let them pursue this, they will remain engaged and motivated. I want creatives who will carve out their way of getting to the desired end result. This is one of the very best tips that I can offer any company for employee engagement and this also happens to be one of the biggest challenges that companies face.
- When you find someone who really buys into the vision of where the business is headed, don’t let them go! If your peers do not believe in the same dream that you do, there is a rift coming in your future.
None of these strategies are revolutionary, yet many startups and corporations still do the same old practices that lead to miserable results. Let me know in the comments if you try any of this out, and how it works for you. Good luck with your next hire!