Leading a business comes with many advantages and responsibilities. One of the more exciting ones is staffing. You get to build the kind of place where you’ve always wanted to work. And if you want that place to flourish, it’ll begin with the right people.
After all, assembling a qualified, passionate team can help drive your culture and improve your chances of success.
But getting the right people in place isn’t about hiring just for the role. It’s about hiring for fit in culture, values, and goals. If done right, you’ll end up with more than a team. You’ll find a tribe — and a well-rounded one, at that.
Any day of the week, you’ll find your tribe banding together to work toward a common cause. A true tribe feels empowered and supported by one another. Each problem is quickly solved, each concern is easily quelled, and the lines of communication never break down. A tribe is truly involved and invested in your vision and feels deep fulfillment in a job well done.
Substance Over Style
Hiring for fit isn’t always easy. You wouldn’t be the first person to look at someone’s experience and think you’ve found the one. But if that person isn’t a match with your culture, his or her vision won’t necessarily align with your business’s future.
Failing to look beyond the résumé can also lead you to hiring the same skills and background over and over again. Diversity is good for any ecosystem, and the same is true for assembling a resilient tribe. Look for complementary skill sets with each person you add to the team. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a business out of balance.
Ask yourself, “Do I want an Ivy Leaguer or a problem-solver? Do I want a driven striver or someone who plays well with others? Do I hire solely on experience or take a chance on someone who will be innovative, imaginative, and different for the role?”
Look for “soft skills” that contribute to the candidate’s ability to add value to your company. Someone who has a creative writing background, or grew up in a small town, or even shared a bathroom with five sisters may have a unique skill set that can add a depth of value to the role.
Right Over Best
When you decide to seek the right candidate over the most qualified one, you’ll need to dig a little deeper during the vetting process. Ask the person what they’re looking for to feel successful. Is it a big title? Is it the ability to lead a team? Is it having a job that expects innovation? What about the potential for growth or money?
Then, measure their answers against what you view as success for your company. Determine whether they align with your culture, values, and goals. And make sure they aren’t just “yessing” you. You want someone who really thinks about the questions and gives real answers.
Many times, I’ll be interviewing someone and I can tell he or she just wants to give the “best” answer. That’s normal enough. But you also want a candidate to be thoughtful with his or her response. Independent thinking is valuable.
Sometimes a candidate can be charming with a seemingly bulletproof résumé. This is why it’s a good idea to include your team in the hiring process. They may have questions you wouldn’t think to ask. Also, involving the current staff in the process shows the potential candidate you make decisions with the team, not without them.
Inspiration for Your Tribe
Hiring the right people for your company is the first step. Inspiring your employees to be the best possible versions of themselves is the second. Here’s how you do that:
1. Hold regular check-ins.
Successful relationships are almost always built on two-way communication. Business relationships are no different, with one exception: You also hold one another accountable.
Regular check-ins provide the opportunity to determine if everyone’s needs and expectations are being met. By keeping an open line of communication, you can keep your finger on the pulse of your company. An early diagnosis of a potential problem can prevent it from becoming a larger problem. Regular check-ins also establish trust between you and your staff. It shows them you’re invested in their success, as well as the company’s.
2. Provide the tools to succeed.
Give your staff the right tools and access to succeed at their jobs. If someone feels stuck or hamstrung, they will eventually feel disregarded and become ineffective. This can be a big or small request, but you won’t know until you ask, “What do you need?”
Here’s a quick example. We had a designer ask for art supplies so she could work in a less digital way when ideating. This was not an expensive request, and we would never have known she wanted the supplies if we hadn’t asked the staff, “What do you need?” You can’t always give staff members what they want when they want it. But when you ask what someone needs to succeed, you immediately get a clearer picture of how to help him or her excel.
3. Avoid micromanaging stuff.
Chances are you hired your employees to shoulder some of your business responsibilities. So give them the autonomy to do the job. Leave room for them to solve problems, improve processes, and function without your involvement. Otherwise, how do you ever expect to scale?
Plus, keeping your hand in every pot will dilute your productivity, erode trust, damage morale, and stunt the overall development of staff.
4. Show your appreciation.
It’s not always possible to reward staff with a promotion or financial compensation, but validation can come in many other forms. This may sound simple, but a heartfelt “thank you” can often go a long way.
Recognition also demonstrates how much you value employees’ contributions. They’ll feel appreciated and respected, which can improve their dedication. Everyone is more willing to work harder when it’s clear someone appreciates his or her efforts.
Every new hire carries weight, and that goes double when hiring for a smaller team. You don’t have the redundancies to rescue the negative effects of a bad hire. Each person you add to your tribe helps foster and strengthen the culture and company you’ve built. Why not use that as an opportunity to create a Swiss Army knife approach to staffing? The most important person at any given time could be the one who suggests the non-obvious answer. Isn’t it worth digging a little deeper to make sure that’s always an option?