How to Hire

Roman army Centurions were followed to battle by 80 men in their quest for treasure and glory — to the victors went the spoils of war. Much has changed: today we seek to engage customers over selling to them, remaining aware of competitors over fighting them. Thus, who is on our team matters more than ever. Avoiding the typical hiring checklist, here I get to the fundamentals of hiring the team that will win the customer…and the humanly “unknown unknowns” that lead to fatal recruiting pitfalls every day.

Great leaders get the fabled 10x people every time by:
1) Offering the best challenges, cultures, and missions
2) Looking for followers with a passion to solve specific customer problems

Without these, your business will suffer sudden or slow death, or what could be worse: perennial mediocrity. Lady luck aside, only 10x followers can turn yours into a great company. Thus you are uniquely responsible for bringing the deep organizational self-awareness that it takes to avoid going awry:

  • Challenges: don’t look for candidates to meet a checklist of qualifications. These are based on the present understanding of the customer and product — both sure to change. See who gets excited by the big hairy audacious goal for the next year or two
  • Culture: hire for fit to a culture, not for social cohesion, which first requires defining a culture that is perfectly tailored to fulfill the company’s vision. Detect who will be accountable, which can be distinct from who is likable by the hiring team
  • Mission: get clear what it will all mean for the world once the company’s vision is fulfilled. It can be ok to be missionary and mercenary, but not to just be the latter. The best people seek to leave a meaningful legacy
  • Passion: true passion for the customer, and the problem to be solved, counts for a big part of the 10x uplift in performance the best people provide; passionate people are sponges for what it will take to win
  • Knowledge: perhaps nothing is more absurd than rejecting a candidate because they don’t already know the business as much as we do, or because they don’t know something they could learn in hours. Untrained interviewers cost great hires
  • Arrogance: hiring specialists, they better know how to tackle an objective better than we do. Which puts interviewing teams in a funny situation when asking questions — not being able to judge the validity or wisdom of the answers. Or loughably thinking we know better
  • Fear: some organizations are more wired for hiring people that confirm their world view more than others. Yet it is rare that the “leader” will hire the best candidate without alignment of the rank and file or peer group
  • Negotiation: if a hiring manager is unable or unwilling to negotiate the job offer, it is unlikely that a 10x candidate will respect him/her as a potential leader
  • Perks: are a crutch, they say “we’ve made it,” which is wrong. Mentally it should be…we’re making it, but it’s still day one. Go, go, go!!!
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