When Do I Hire?
Although the answer to this question might sound rather obvious, it isn’t always as simple as “when I need to fill a position.” You see, in order to fill a position, you first need to know when to create that position. Early on in the life of a startup, a team of founders is often all that exists. But as the startup grows, the hiring of non-executive team members is a function that needs consideration. One metric that can be used to determine the need for a position is whether or not a founding executive’s time could be spent more wisely if certain tasks were delegated to a new hire. A second situation to look for is whether or not your company requires a certain type of human capital that you or your founding team cannot provide – perhaps an accountant or book keeper, although it could be anything. Finally, try to keep a long-term focus on job titles as naming someone a “director” might sound good now, but will turn sour when you need to add a position above Director and the current Director isn’t on the level that he or she needs to be to continue holding that position. Nice titles can and are motivating to employees, just exercise caution so that they are not given to under-qualified employees.
Where Should I Look for A-Players?
In the beginning of this article, we touched on the dangers of using friends (and family) as employees since it could end up hurting these relationships – after all, business is typically a stressful beast. This is not to say, however that hiring friends should be avoided. As Noam Wasserman explains in his book The Founder’s Dilemmas, “CEOs tend to feel more comfortable with hires they already know.” He goes on to say that “by the second round of financing, the founder-CEO is finding fewer members of the team” while investors account for a growing percentage of the hires. As we can see, this could be to the fact that each of us has a limited “social circle” from which we can draw talent from. So what’s a CEO to do? For starters, constantly keep a lookout for talent around you – at every business you visit. If you see someone going above and beyond, make note. Another technique is to ask your friends if they themselves know anyone who would be interested in working for you. By asking your friends to ask their friends, you avoid the strain on relationships while still getting a trustworthy employee who is often very similar to your group of friends.
How Do I Keep Them Happy?
You found a team of A-player employees and things feel really good about now. But this is only half the battle: retaining your talent is equally as important as finding them in the first place. Eric Herrenkohl says in his book How To Hire A-Players that “A-players want to work for a leader who has a vision for the business and can tell them where they as top performers fit into it.” Having this vision as a leader is important when we want to motivate and keep our top talent. By being open and honest with our team members and communicating a roadmap to promotion and achievement, A-player employees will feel like they are actually getting somewhere instead of simply spinning their wheels. Eric Herrenkohl goes on to explain how sitting down and asking your employees about their goals is a great way to determine how to motivate them to perform and be happy. And while monetary incentives are important and should be awarded, challenges and appreciation for hard work and dedication are the things that will keep your ambitious team at their best.
In the article Recognizing Employees Is the Simplest Way to Improve Morale, David Novak sums it all up by saying “recognition isn’t just about implementing employee programs to check them off a list; it’s about bringing out the best in people and improving your company’s bottom line.”
Herrenkohl, Eric (2010). How to Hire A-Players. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Novak, David (2016). Recognizing Employees Is The Simplest Way to Improve Morale. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain
Wasserman, Noam (2012). The Founder’s Dilemmas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press