The first of these is this:
“The art of recruiting is the purest form of evangelism because you’re not simply asking people to try your product, buy your product, or partner with you. Instead, you are asking them to bet their lives on your organization.”
But it goes well beyond that. Some companies hire for skills or talent. Others, on the other hand, hire for vision and attitude. The difference is this: Companies that hire for skills and talent tend to attract relatively talented, ambitious folks who do a terrific job… for a while. Until they get bored. Until their work grows stale. Until they start looking for greener pastures. They do great work, and then they leave. The process gets repeated. The process gets repeated. The process gets repeated. Other than adding neat pages to their employers’ portfolios (and their own), nothing much happens.
Companies that hire for vision and attitude, however, kick ass. They always do. The people they hire are agents of change. They’re evangelists. They’re contextual commandos. They’re dreamers and groundbreakers. They’re risk takers. They take the companies they work for further than they were when they first landed there. They attract more people like them and build cultures around their companies.
A good friend of mine, Randy McDougald, hires for vision and attitude, and the results are unbelievable. His business is booming. His customer base is growing. His customers are actually creating a community – a culture – even, around his stores.
Resumes are a good first step. Skills are a nice foundation… But attitude, passion and enthusiasm are the traits that Randy considers when hiring new folks. Believe me, I know every one of his employees, and I can tell you this: I would hire them all in a heartbeat.
Okay, okay, we’ll come back to Randy’s golden touch later this week. Right now, here are Guy’s ten bits of advice when it comes to hiring your next team member:
1. Hire better than yourself.
2. Hire infected people.
3. Ignore the irrelevant.
4. Double check your intuition.
5. Check independent references.
6. Apply the Shopping Center Test.
7. Use all your weapons.
8. Sell all the decision makers.
9. Wait to compensate.
10. Don’t assume you’re done.
(You can check out the full version here.)
What Guy hints at but doesn’t get into is the fact that sometimes, you’ll run into enigmas. Multi-talented folks who don’t quite fit any of the profiles that you’re used to running into, like accountants, copywriters, account executives, product managers or media Planners. Sometimes, you meet people who transcend traditional professional roles. People whose impact on their industry or communities could be felt for years. Decades, even. Some of us would call them game-changers, but I guess “change agent” is a little more subtle. David Armano sometimes calls them “T-shaped” and “sun-shaped” people and I kind of like that.
Only when you run into them, they still haven’t had a chance to break out their superpowers, but they’re just about to. All they need is that little extra push. That little extra help and encouragement. Just a sprinkle of faith on your part.
Among the brightest stars in this group are people like Peter Drucker, Lance Armstrong, Sir Richard Branson and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Mahatma Gandhi. Steve Jobs. The list is long. To a lesser extent, folks like John Winsor, John Moore, Michele Miller, David Wolfe, Kevin Farnham, Valeria Maltoni, Loic Lemeur and William Gordon also belong on the much longer list of kids who didn’t quite fit the mold and grew up to re-invent (or expand the boundaries of) their respective industries and communities.
Consider that they were all kids once. They all applied for that first job. I’d be willing to bet that a great deal of people on that list were turned down by well-meaning managers more concerned with hiring what they knew and understood than taking a chance on something that didn’t quite fit between the lines.
Shame on them.
Why do you think so many of them end up branching off on their own? It isn’t necessarily because they want to spend years working their butts off to be able to say “hey, I did it my way!” No. It’s because they didn’t have a choice. It’s because the people who could have chosen to take a chance on them didn’t.
You would be amazed at how many companies that sell “different” don’t actually have the huevos to actually practice what they preach.
Trust me, there’s nothing more tragic than to see passionate, talented, groundbreaking kids get turned away again and again and again by hiring managers because they didn’t quit match the position’s profile.
“We’re looking for someone with more experience.”
“We’re looking for someone who’s worked in this specific industry.”
“We’re looking for a carbon-copy of the last guy who sat in that chair… only in a different flavor. Because we like to talk about being different and better and more innovative, but we don’t really have the courage to put our money where our mouth is.”
If your company is guilty of this, it’s time to stop. Right now.
One, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by turning away what could very possibly be the most crucial strategic investment your company will ever make.
Two, unfortunately for you, maybe your fiercest competitor won’t be as blind as you were.
Three, you’re breaking spirits. You probably don’t realize it, but you are, and for that, there is no excuse. None. And the karma on this isn’t something you ever want to even ponder.
So here’s a tip: When a dreamer – one of the crazy ones – comes rapping at your door, don’t turn them away because they don’t quite fit the profile that you had in mind. Skilled is necessary. Different is good. Prolific is great. Passionate is even better. Enthusiastic is magical. Unique is genius.
Always consider the pros and cons carefully, but don’t be afraid to take a chance on the occasional wild card.
If you’re willing to ask your new hires to bet their lives on your organization, shouldn’t you also be willing to bet your organization on them?
This isn’t a rhetorical question.
While you ponder the finer points of your answer, here’s one last thing to think about: Exceptional doesn’t mean “really good”. Exceptional means “unique”. It means “the exception to the norm.”
It means different.
Don’t lose sight of that. That tiny little bit of insight could make the difference between your company becoming everything it could be, or just being… well, what it is.
Related reads: H.R. 2.0 and Innovation Starts Here
This is great advice Olivier. I’d just add one point:
Don’t hire someone that clearly doesn’t fit the company mold unless you are truly willing to take the leap necessary to let their passion and curiosity run free. You can’t hire someone with that much drive and chain them to a cubicle. You’d be better off hiring someone based on skills and experience.
Great post. It’s amazing how important intuition is when meeting people that may end up working at your co.
So when do we start working together? I’m inspired, Olivier. And I am moved. You are very kind – and quite perceptive. My advice to those who are willing to go whole hog is – never cease to believe in yourself. Your time will come. In some cases, it’s a matter of getting out of your own way.
My expression is – there are people out there who are looking for a company that will join them.
Things are so fluid, and they will continue to be, that you cannot grow from process and efficiency alone. You may add water, but you actually need to put seeds in there and let them sprout to have growth. Like farming, connection with what needs to be done to create something new from an idea, is hard earned. It’s science, and it’s art. A pth that only someone with the deepest conviction and hunger will travel. Not for the glory of the title or the company car – for the sheer joy of creation itself.
Valeria, I am working on an idea that could open up some collaborative potential. I’ll have more on that soon. 😉
Looks good from what I see, I would also like to see some more of your work Valeria.
When are you going to tell us about this idea? You are sure building up a level of anticipation. 🙂
Chris: Soon. Very soon.
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