Beyond your group of initial founders you eventually, should you be enough of a success, have to hire some employees. Yay! There are many things to think about in this aspect and the best way is to think big and then wide. It’s easy to simply get someone that has the right skills especially if you are in a tight spot but they may prove a burden when you later realise they haven’t got any personality to back those skills. A friend of mine hired someone who may only be described as “Awesome” on paper and during the interview. When it came to the job he was also good but this guy was bad at everything else. The guy was always sulking by the drinks machine, preferred individual projects, slow to respond, the problem: poor culture fit.
As an HR person, I know the unnecessary fuss we create around seemingly mindless issues; I have been at meetings to agree on further meetings, to change a one-line slogan on “Marketing HR to the Company”(!) We can be tedious, but cultural fit is hugely paramount. Cultural fit is what makes the difference between a good, thoughtful employee and an engaged, highly innovative one. It all relates back to Morse’s (1975) study which demonstrated that where there is a fit between the employee’s personality and that of the organisation, then employees are more content, have higher levels of job satisfaction, and most importantly demonstrate superior levels of job performance.
An obvious pre-requisite to this is understanding what type of culture of have at your organisation. Ask yourself and your co-founders:
- What type of people are we? (Be brutally honest!) Rate each other
- Does this organisation more of a team-based or individual-based work?
- How do we exchange information: very discreet because of the work we do, remotely as we work far apart, through face-to-face meetings or more email communications?
- What type of language do we allow/ encourage/ use?
- Do we have any quirky aspects or rituals? e.g. a sales group I worked with regularly linked arms, sang and ‘roared’ before heading out to the field, and were discouraging of anyone “neg-ging” them out with less-than-positive comments.
These are hugely useful in forming interview questions. You want to hire people whose answers more closely match yours from this exercise.
General v. Specific skills set
There’s a trade-off here – do you want a dependable expert or someone who is more adaptable based on their general experience? Experts are usually more expensive to hire but their depth is invaluable and they can handle shocks in their fields.
Generalists can be of more help with a changing landscape. Unless you are very certain, I’d advise you go with a generalist. Whichever way your business goes they should be able to support your growth and development.
Job Titles & Salaries
Before you go any further, note down what you want in the role. A job description does not have to be extensive or exhaustive. Make it informative, direct, clear what tasks the role will perform. Here are some poor job descriptions I have picked up:
e.g. Function as the ‘conscious’ of your business segment…; leverage ideas…; contain compliance operational risk…; provide boundary-spanning dialogue… etc.
They mean little and confuse everyone. Instead use:
e.g. Take responsibility for staff surveys…; professionally challenge business ideas…; ensure compliance to risk processes…; support internal communication… etc.
Your salary should be benchmarked against your closest competitors. A good guide for salaries is through industry surveys, and adverts. Check specialist publications if you know them too. These are much better than wider, more generic areas.
If you do make an error in your choice, remember that you can get rid of them. Nothing is worse than carrying deadwood. If they haven’t reached your expectations in three-months, make sure you have a discussion about it. If they are still lagging behind after six-months – show them the door. Legally, provided your contract isn’t more generous, you can give one-week’ notice should the employee have been employed for less than two-years.
Article by Oyeyimika Opaneye, follow him on twitter at OKAConsulting