Who have your best hires been? Believe it or not, my worst hires have been people who had long term experience and great technical skills. So what was the problem?
Simply put, they didn’t fit the culture of my company. Conversely, my best hires have been people with the right attitude who were willing to learn the technical aspects of what we do.
J. Paul Getty was the T. Boone Pickens of the 50’s and 60’s. Getty was interviewing a potential hire who explained that he has 25 years of experience. Getty asked the man if his background was actually one year of experience 25 times over.
That’s an interesting question and one that a lot of people have failed to ask at the right time when interviewing.
Experience is great – if it’s the right kind. And, in my opinion, experience should be varied, particularly in today’s world when things are changing so fast. If you’re a one-trick pony you’re just not going to make it today. But you also need to be able to work within a team.
I’ve been fortunate to have a great group join our company. They’re good leaders and they’re good followers. They know how to do both and know when to take which role. I think that’s important. Not everybody can be the leader all the time and not everybody should be the leader. There should be a variance in there, and my team is comfortable with that.
We care about each other and we’re not afraid to show it. When somebody needs to be rescued, we do it. We follow a mission statement which is to help our fellow employees and clients be successful.
Over the last 24 months, we invested a lot of time and effort defining the roles of everybody in the company, documenting those roles and defining the processes that we would use to accomplish what we need to do every day.
We’re computer people, but we’re not a bunch of nerds. There’s a lot of tasks we perform that require process and structure in the company. We spent a lot of time working on that.
I told my team the roles I wanted filled and the outcome of each of those roles. Then my team figured out the processes and documented them. The reason I think it worked well was because they created the roles, so they felt ownership of them. They took responsibility for them. Like most people, they want to know what the expectations are but they also want to have a hand in creating the tools and the processes that are used to accomplish those expectations.
The advice I would give, and what I would do differently if I had it to do over again, would be to establish the roles early on. Hire to your culture instead of hiring for experience.
Remember that technical skills can typically be taught, but attitude and work ethic won’t easily be changed.