By : Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO Alley
Recently, a friend of mine came to me after going through a major crisis: her employees had staged a coup that involved them going to her investors and clients on a mission to get her fired. “My employees are trying to destroy me,” she said.
I asked her how and why she hired the people that would eventually betray her and the answer I got exposed the root of the issue: she hired wrong.
Over the years I have learned that hiring the right people is mission-critical to building a business. The team-building advice I gave her is the formula that has propelled my business towards success.
Hire for trust over skill.
In the case of this founder, her answer as to why she hired her employees was eye-opening. She said she hired for “purely skill.” She wanted motivated people who would stop at nothing to succeed.
Unfortunately for her, their success meant her being ousted from her own company. Trust is one of the most crucial attributes a candidate should be judged on before being hired. That was her first mistake — not hiring people she trusted. This “lone wolf” outlook that her employees shared was detrimental to — not only her business — but herself as well.
You can teach someone a skill, but you can not teach them trust or loyalty.
Hire slow and fire fast.
In the early days of my business, my vetting process was boiled down to one question: is this person capable of filling the role that I need filled right now?
As logical as this sounds, hiring for tactical reasons keeps you from learning what kind of person you’re bringing into your office and life. Now that I’m privileged enough to have the time of getting to know someone, I can hire based skill, trust, competency, and personality.
I love the saying “a bad deal never gets better.” Building a relationship is as important as any training seminar within a new role at a company. Sometimes you’ve got to follow your gut: if someone doesn’t seem like the right fit and continually proves to be a bad fit, set them free. I promise you’re doing them a favor. When you hire the wrong person, you’re not only doing a disservice to your company, but to them as well. Firing someone is not a career killer, it’s just a push in the right direction. If they’re not right for the job, they can’t succeed either, leaving you both in the weeds.
Hire someone who is not like you.
Many founders make the statement that they wish they could hire five of them. If I had hired five versions of myself, my company would have crashed and burned.
In reality, you need to hire someone who is the antithesis of you and build a workforce made up of employees with skills that benefit and support everyone’s respective talents. I used to make the mistake of looking for myself in candidates, completely overlooking their skillset and goals.
In reality, you need to hire a team member: someone who fits in a specific role and can thrive in said role. If you hire five versions of yourself, you simply get five people with the same strengths and weaknesses.
Create a platform for success.
When you build a business from the ground up, there’s bound to be confusion: chaos, disorganization, and bad coffee. One of the most crucial elements in making a good hire is developing a clear vision of success beforehand.
As a founder, you must define your vision of success clearly so every member of your staff knows their role in making this dream a shared success. Without this, you get employees working in the dark, which will only chip away at the foundation of your business.
Take ownership of failed hires.
I’ll be the first to admit it: for years, I sucked at hiring. The problem didn’t fall on the people I hired, but with me — a leader who didn’t know what he wanted.
The problem was, I didn’t communicate a clear understanding of my own vision of success. Core values are the moral compass of an organization. The quicker you own up to inefficiencies such as this, the quicker you can solve the problems that need solving.
Take ownership. Ask yourself if you’re presenting a clear path to success for your potential candidates and current employees. This is something not everyone gets right immediately, but it is a vital part of the business that you can never stop working towards. Dreams shift and dreams change, just make sure you own up to it.
Oh, and as far as my friend who found herself at the business end of an all-out coup? She took my advice, hired an entirely new team of people who she now trusts, and is now the CEO of a thriving business.