Part 3: When Hiring – What’s the right kind of help?

Along our startup journey we’ve had some great colleagues and some not so great ones. In today’s blog we’re going to talk about some of the pros and cons we’ve had when hiring new help.

#1 Question on a Startup – Should You Hire Your Close Friends?

During the course of Widgetware’s existence we’ve brought on some close friends to help with the workload. One of the biggest things I think we’ve experienced with this is you want your friends to be apart of what you’re doing. We’ve learned that you might want to separate your friends from your business.

The problem with hiring a friend is that they may not really have a vested interest in company’s goals. It can sound like a good idea at the time, and they can help in some way, but strange things happen to friendships when money is involved. Not saying this is the case in every situation, just one we experienced. Often times this can cripple a fledgling company from the start as not all parties are on the same page. Everyone makes mistakes, hopefully our trials can help you avoid future ones in your hirings. The startup life isn’t for everyone, and it’s not any easy path.

The Smaller Your Organization, the More Hiring the Right People Matters.

Granted all hirings should be taken with care no matter the size of your organization, but the smaller your company is the more critical the right people are. When you only have 3 or 4 employees and one of them is a disaster, things may get sticky. The odds of interpersonal conflicts typically doubles since issues can arise both in and outside of work. So what’s the solution?

The Takeaway: You know the old saying “One bad apple can ruin the bunch” – it’s true. If one member of your team is not cohesive with the rest; production and moral may start to suffer within the organization. We’ve found that hiring based upon attitude first and skillsets second can be more beneficial. Skills can be trained, and a candidate who lacks a few specific skill sets can become a rockstar candidate with some training, but a candidate without interpersonal skills is a disaster waiting to happen. Experience, knowledge, and skill come with time but enthusiasm, interpersonal skills, and work ethic are almost impossible to pass on to others.

The Organization Should Do the Selling, Instead of Being Sold.

When looking to do new hirings, make sure to make valid points to why your organization is a good fit, but don’t oversell the organization. Every startup wants employees to want to work for them, but don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Expectations may be misleading and good candidates probably have already done a little homework on your organization and find it potentially a good fit. What’s the trick to getting a great colleague that understands the startup life?

The Takeaway: All I can say is create transparency. Be open about the position you’re asking the candidate to fill. Discuss the organization and its growth. This is the opportunity to put it all out on the table, and if it’s a right fit, you’ll know instantly and no one’s expectations are let down. This may not be a right fit for all candidates but it will weed out the ones that you’ll want to work with (also the ones that want to work with you) and the ones that may end up the not so great fit.

Trust Your Gut – Intuition Lies Within Instinct

Of course formal, comprehensive and transparent hiring processes should help you select the right candidate for the position, just don’t ignore your intuition. Impressions last a lifetime, and should always be weighed against objective data. Your intuition and instinct will guide you, and only conducting more and more interviews will give you the experience for pointing out troubling signals right away. Check references, and the good ol’ classic “receptionist test” works good as starters.

The Takeaway: If you think you can change the spots of a leopard, guess again. If your intuition and instincts are telling you something (that feeling you get in your gut) then it’s probably right. “The great salesman with a proven track record of landing clients and a documented history of making life miserable for administrative and support staffs will not become your shining golden ticket.” Wishing and hoping won’t matter. “Some people have a certain way of interacting and working with others, and it may not always be the right fit for your organization. But deciding up front, the total package, if you’re willing to accept these things from the start – and willingly accept them from the start moving forward – go for it. Otherwise, it’s probably best to find someone else for the position, so no one’s expectations are let down.”

What’s your experience been in hiring on new help with your startup or existing organization? How did you go about finding the right people for the right position?