A High Skill Set Is a Low Standard

While it’s absolutely essential that a prospective employee have a basic skill set to do his or her job, in today’s market, even a high-level skill set isn’t sufficient to be effective. First, jobs are not static anymore. People need to be flexible and be problem solvers. That means being able to function in situations you weren’t particularly trained in. Companies need to be thinking about the next level up. If an employer doesn’t feel comfortable that the job candidate can take his bosses place within six months, my advice is do not hire that person. Only hire people who think like chess players, those that think five or more moves into the future.

But even that’s not sufficient if you want your company to prosper, not just grow. You must also judge the candidate’s personality. How much initiative do they have? What else can they contribute, such as contacts, affiliates and associates? Can they be trusted to make decisions that benefit the company first, their team second and their personal interests last? And, do they play well with others?

This last point is difficult to measure and it will generally be tested and made publicly known after a major disagreement with other people on the team or within the company.

Regardless of how smart someone is, the schools they attended, the awards they won and their previous accomplishments, if they don’t fit within your culture, they will never be happy, other employees will suffer and the company will never operate at peak efficiency so learn to say “no” and know that’s the right decision even though you personally would like to add those credentials to your staff… you are hiring a person, not a resume.

If you don’t follow that advice you, the new hire and your current staff will undergo the pain that comes due to a failure to assimilate and the damage will continue to grow until your newly hired becomes your recently fired.

To avoid this embarrassment and waste of resources, ask questions to determine if the prospect is a “we and our” type of person or an “I and me” type of person.

Managers and especially entrepreneurs should also look to build a staff built on diversity. This isn’t just for the sake of being politically correct. It is to give you insight as to how your customers think and act. Don’t just hire clones of yourself. Yes, you’ll get a lot of yesses and agreement and that’s great… provided you’re always right.

Competent and successful managers know they need some opposition. Hopefully everyone should agree on the company’s goals and direction but there are many different ways to achieve those goals and better roads that take you there.

In a properly structured environment openness, disagreement and a willingness to speak freely should be encouraged… until the time a decision is made and then it’s up to everyone to support that decision and monitor it. Then, if it doesn’t work as expected, it can be changed or discarded because the entire team is working as a unit to make the best decisions collectively.

Crude but not Crazy

There are many companies that have a “no asshole” rule. It sounds crude but it’s actually quite smart and can wind up saving companies lots of aggravation and money. One of your key objectives during the interview process should be to determine whether or not the prospect has the ability to be a productive team member and a prospective team leader.
One of the ways to accomplish this is to determine how involved the prospect is in outside activities. Those that are will not only bring a broader array of contacts and experiences to the business but they are more likely to be interested in helping their fellow employees. I believe every level of engagement between employees forms a bond between them and the greater the engagement, the deeper the bond.