Good hire or bad hire?
You’ve done the hard work, you’ve made the decision and your shiny new hire has finally joined the team.
Great, now what?
So much is written about how to hire great people and what to look for when hiring. But that is merely the start of the journey.
After the hiring decision is made, the work begins. Your team has grown and, at some stage, you’ll need to decide whether the person you recently hired is adding value. If not, it might be time to make some hard decisions, or even revisit your hiring methods.
Here are five powerful indicators that you’ve made the right choice.
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“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
– Abraham Lincoln
There is a lot of talk about hustling in the startup community. It’s a badge of honor. But hustling is not a skill, it’s a behavior. It is therefore a choice.
Every startup hopes its team members will make that choice every day.
You can encourage hustling by communicating your company’s vision and values, as well as creating a collaborative and fun work environment.
Without those things, even the best hustler may run out of steam.
When people buy into your company’s vision, they are more likely to become dedicated to your team. A dedicated team member is an excellent outcome, but it takes both sides to make that happen.
Making the right hiring decision isn’t just about hiring someone who is great in isolation. Rather, it’s about hiring someone who is great for your team. In other words, a great hire is someone who will eventually become dedicated to your team.
Dedication looks pretty much like hustling, but it’s sustainable. So look for sustained and purposeful effort. It’s a good indicator of both performance and engagement.
“Initiative is doing the right things without being told.”
– Elbert Hubbard
Having people who can do things well without being told is a gift.
In his article, One Behavior Separates The Successful From The Average, Benjamin P. Hardy describes people who take initiative as follows:
“They don’t need to be managed in all things. They don’t just do the job, they do it right and complete. They also influence the direction for how certain ideas and projects go.”
But it’s not enough to just do things well. After all, that’s what is expected. It’s about doing the right things well. Knowing which things to prioritize requires good judgment. Initiative coupled with bad judgment can be counterproductive.
When people take initiative, productivity increases and the confidence goes up. Team members know they can rely on each other to get things done.
3. Cultural Stretch
“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”
– Bruce Lee
In his article, Hire for Cultural Fitness, Not Just Cultural Fit, Gustavo Razzetti argues that good hires should make the culture stretch, not just adapt to it.
That’s a great perspective.
When new hires form independent relationships with other team members, and impact them in a positive way, you can be sure that your culture is stretching. It’s evidence that they are adding something, not just assimilating.
It’s a beautiful thing to see the team growing. Not just in numbers, but in intellectual firepower and curiosity.
Any new hire that makes a contribution to the team’s growth is a leader in the making, if not a leader today.
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
– Benjamin Franklin
There is always room for improvement, no matter who you are.
It’s a wonderful feeling to see people improve over time and, for high performers, improvement is not an option, it’s an irresistible desire.
In his article, 76% of high-performance employees say trade mastery, not money, most important in career decisions, William Belk argues that “corporate culture and directive”should encourage team members to develop their skills in the pursuit of mastery. This will result in high levels of engagement and sustained innovation.
Improvement is therefore a strong indicator of performance. Assuming people are set up for success, strong team members will look for opportunities to hone their craft. An ethos of continuous improvement needs to be encouraged and, sometimes, leaders may even need to get out of the way to give the team space.
People with a capacity and willingness to improve their skills become more valuable over time. Rather than having their careers developed for them, improvers create opportunities for themselves. For companies who believe in empowering their teams, constantly-improving team members are obvious assets.
“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.”
– Boris Pasternak
Trying to hire people who will surprise us is a contradiction in terms. We hire people to perform certain tasks and we expect them to perform those tasks very well. High performers may exceed our expectations in the quality of their work, but that’s not what I’m referring to here.
Every so often, people do things that catch us off guard. These acts of wonder cannot be found in a job description, they require skills that we don’t necessarily associate with the person who surprised us, and they are not things we would have thought to do ourselves.
It’s something intangible, and there is no point looking for it. But when it happens, we know that we have someone special on our hands. We got more than we bargained for.
Then, You Know It’s Real
“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”
– Oscar Wilde
When I reflect on the five indicators of a sound hiring decision – dedication, initiative, cultural stretch, improvement and surprise – what stands out is just how human they are. They are, more or less, what Seth Godin would call “real skills”.
That doesn’t mean that technical skills, which Godin calls “functional skills”, aren’t valuable. Of course they are. They are the baseline, the minimum standard.
But it’s the “real skills” that make a new hire stand out. They influence how the work is done, the impact on the rest of the team and the propensity for growth.
When the time comes to assess a hiring decision, it is helpful to look beyond how individual tasks are performed and see each new hire through through a “real skills” lens. In addition to an assessment of performance right now, you’ll get a strong indication of what you’re likely to see in the future.