Leadership: Know Who to Hire

II met somebody the other day – a surprisingly intelligent and experienced small business owner who had accomplished much in his career. We spoke for over an hour, about his history, and about a project I’m working on. Though the conversation was intellectually engaging on many levels, one statement stuck out and has lingered in my head since.

“I’m very comfortable at the 50,000-foot level, but I’m no good with details. That’s why I have to hire people who are.”

It’s nothing I haven’t heard, read, or even considered myself before – hiring the right person for the job – but for some reason this particular statement stuck with me. I’ve since considered my professional situation, in knowing who to hire and when to hire for the job, even if there isn’t a job.

Who to Hire?

As a relatively new business, we have had to bring people on board without the luxury of high-rise offices and indoor basketball courts (not yet, anyway). It can be a hard decision. Will they work out? What exactly am I hiring them to do? Should I just try to do it myself?

Thankfully, each member of our team has proved to be a solid, warmly welcomed addition. It’s often said by notable leaders that regardless of whether you are actively in a hiring mode, when you come upon good talent, you find a place for that talent in your organization.

Now wait just a flea-flickin moment. Why would you hire somebody if you aren’t looking to hire?

Cool your jets, hot rod. It plays out like this: At any stage of growth, though I believe it to be much more noticeable as a budding enterprise, talent is what will grow the business. Hiring friends or family because you may get along or like to hang around each other does nobody any good.

If you’ve had a job, you’ve likely been witness to one employee who shouldn’t be there. Further, you’ve likely felt how toxic that employee can be to other team members, to customers, to the company. Small businesses simply can’t afford to hire somebody who only shows up to collect a paycheck.

After some internal reflection, I’ve gathered a few thoughts, nay, truths about knowing who to hire, where to place somebody and how to build an effective team.

Get to Know You

Make sure to hire the right person for your job parameters

When bringing people aboard, the primary goal is to find somebody who fits a specific skill set and fits in with the culture of your company. Second, though no less important, is to find people who compliment your expertise and can excel in an arena where you do not. For every aspect of your company, you need to bring on the most talented person for that.

Hiring somebody who’s right for the position allows the entire team to focus on their respective areas and grow the business sustainably, while minimizing the need for micro-managing. To get a firm foundation on how this lays out, here are a couple things to consider:

  1. Strength comes from within. Seriously. You must first give yourself an honest review of your strengths. Consider your personal successes – not based on what you think you did, but the actual outcome. You better have proof to back up your claim, otherwise you’re probably just patting yourself on the back.
  2. Unfortunately, so too does weakness. This is really the basis for making sure you have the right people for the job, even if you don’t know exactly what that job is. This will be harder for most people than finding your strengths, and the more honest you are, the easier it will be to identify qualities of a good job candidate.

Now, Have a Second Look at Your Team

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Cliches be damned, but it’s true. You must continually analyze your team in the same fashion.

Remember the When

When did you hire this person? Was it in a time of panic? A time of success and growth? Was it during a time when you weren’t looking for anybody, but your initial instinctual reaction told you to hire this person for the good of the company?

This will help you discover the context in which you brought on a team member, and might shed some insight into what you had hoped the person would achieve. From our company’s standpoint, we’ve added talent when we needed specific projects tackled, and also when there was nothing fitting the immediate skill set of the person. But when we recognize good talent, we try to make every effort to include that person in some fashion or other.

Remember the Why

Think back to when you hired this person. Why did you extend an offer? What specific personality traits or characteristics did they have that you liked/admired? Was their professional experience on par with your needs? Did they, personally and professionally, truly fit your company profile and atmosphere?

Even if you didn’t have a specific need for a person’s skill set, why did you decide to add the person to the team? I know for us, we have experienced this because we have a vision for our company, and know that it will take a dedicated team ¬†of people to achieve that vision.

So when we come across people who have expertise in an area or service that would ultimately benefit our company, we find a way to fold that into our vision. For me, it’s as simple as that: will this person (personallyand professionally) add to the value of what our company offers? If so, let’s make it happen. If not, maybe down the road it will make more sense.

I never want to outright refuse an opportunity, but it would be unwise to act on every possibility that comes across our doorstep. When in doubt, hold off until the arrangement makes a little more sense.

Making Sure The Job Fits Their Personage

This post is getting a little long, so I’ll continue the section on how to make sure your employees’ strengths best fits their job parameters in a new post. Click here to view (The post will launch Monday, Dec. 3).

What do you think?

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