What to Hire in Employees

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta hire as many Harvard MBAs as we can. Yachts, here we come. Yay!" That's what most blah-businesses do: Hire as many credentialed folks as freakishly possible, then think: "Our company will soar higher than a mutha ^@!$!% eagle! Yay! Yay! Yay!" The likelier outcome: They'll soar into the pits of mediocrity. Businesses that place credentials as their top hiring priority will see a clash of cultures, values, personalities, and egos. (Just watch an episode of Trump's Apprentice.) Instead, great businesses do something else: They hire people who freakishly live and breath their company's values.

Why Hiring Folks on Credentials Suck

You interview two people:
  • Menkes: Credentialed dude. Harvard MBA. 3 years of Hong Kong business experience. Member of prestigious Phi Kappa Phi and Skulls and Bones Society. Self-centered.
  • Bobby: No-credential dude. High school diploma. 3 years of helping disadvantaged youths. Volunteer Firefighter. Loves people.
Say your company exists "to help people live better lives." If you were to hire somebody, who must you hire? If you answered Bobby: Ding! Ding! Mutha Ding! Ding! You're right. Hiring credential-dude Menkes is like placing a virus into your office. Slowly, but surely, he'll corrode the unique values of your entire company:
  1. Day 1: Menkes affects 1 person into thinking "We're going overboard with this 'helping people' crap."
  2. Day 5: The two affect two others.
  3. Day 10: The four affect four others.
  4. Day __: Etc.
  5. Year 1: Your entire company is affected. Employees begin to think, "What do we believe in again?" Uh-oh.
That's how once-rocking start-ups become boring business drones as they grew up. Somewhere along the way, they hired "credentialed folks" with clashing values -- corrupting their culture. Mixing opposing values is akin to blending a martini with meatloaf; the result: crap.

"So, why do I need people who share my company's values?"

A great company needs a clear mission -- whether that's to provide happiness, entertain the world, teach disadvantaged youths, etc. If you recruit people with differing values, you'll see a corrosion to your mission -- alienating customers who believe in it. Try mixing a staunch environmentalist with a Hummer-owner -- and tell them to build a company. One person wants to sell stuff that protects the environment; the other person wants to sell stuff that provides the most extreme off-road excitement. What do you get? A clash of different opinions that stalls their company, until somebody wises up and says: "Hey, let's compromise. We'll just sell kites." You get blah. Blah. Blah. A mix of clashing personalities stops your company from producing something revolutionary. Instead of moving forward with full-freakin'-steam ahead, it tries to satisfy every personality -- producing blah-ness.

A Team With Shared Values Produces Great Things

As two fabulous Stanford researchers concluded from their six-year study of great businesses, there are no "right values" to make a company great. As long as your business lives by some values, you're well on your way. For the Hummer dude above: Tell the staunch environmentalist: "Yo! I don't need yo behind!" -- and then, set out to build a company with people who love off-road excitement. That's how the world gets Subaru, Kawasaki, and Fox Racing. The econ-friendly dude should do the same; build a company with other staunch environmentalists. That's how the world gets Timberland, Starbucks, and Patagonia. Whatever values you hold, the world wants it. Get people who share them with you, and you'll build a ridiculously awesome future.

If the Amazingly Awesome Companies Do It...

Various examples:
  1. Google's mission: to empower people with organized information.
    So, it hires smarty geeks who love dealing with that stuff.
  2. Starbucks mission: to provide a third-place for the world.
    So, it hires people who could be your family member.
  3. Harley Davidson's mission: to fulfill dreams through motorcycling.
    So, it hires people who have an incurable need to fulfill those dreams.
  4. Disney's mission: to make people happy.
    So, it hires happy people who can brighten up a room in seconds.
Hiring for shared values gives you a supreme identity and mission that keeps your business rockin' for ages.

"Dude, but what if my mission is: [enter generic mission statement here]"

If you have a generic mission statement, change the sucka such that it:
  1. freakishly attracts people who share your company's values
  2. viciously repels people who don't share those values
Your business will be that much closer to kicking-major-booty-for-the-world-to-see. When you're looking to hire somebody:

Hire ridiculously awesome people who share your ridiculously awesome values.

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Posted on December 05

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