Startup founders are often given this piece of rather universal of advice: Hire A-level players. While it’s probably safe to assume that most companies are not looking to hire mediocre employees, what makes someone an A-level player differs from company to company. When you’re hiring at an early stage startup, it’s not just about a candidate’s resume and laurels. There are a few intangible characteristics to look for in order to determine if a potential employee will add value and thrive at your company.
1) Perseverance and Grit
What makes a boxer a great fighter isn’t just how hard he can punch, it’s how hard he can be punched and keep on going. Similarly, most employees easily enjoy the highs of the startup life, but how will he or she persevere through the lows?
“The key hiring characteristic that we optimized for early on at Tout was grit,” says ToutApp CEO, Tawheed Kader. “People with grit will break down walls and don’t have ‘that’s not my job’ in their vocabulary.”
Perseverance is a requirement for innovation because most innovation is created during a startup’s darkest times.When a startup struggles, it is forced to evolve. It is also during these times of struggle that a company’s stars shine the brightest. An A-level player will not be discouraged by failure instead he or she will be a part of an innovative solution.
Thinking like an owner means being reliable in completing tasks while understanding the big picture. Employees that are able to think like owners are comfortable with ambiguity and understand how their role impacts and affects others at the company. They don’t leave ideating to their managers and they bring feedback, insight, and suggestions to every meeting.
3) Effective Communicator
Last but not least, successful startup employees are effective communicators. While an employee who is not an effective communicator may be a fantastic individual contributor, he or she will not be great leader within the organization. Being an effective communicator isn’t about charisma, it’s about getting accurate information to the right people in a manner that is easy to digest and is timely. Communication and transparency helps startups grow quickly. Leaders with poor communication skills are a liability to any company– they will not be able to maximize their team’s potential and will ultimately slow your startup’s growth.
Due to the dynamic nature of startups, it’s clear that relevant work experience at a brand name company and an academic background from a premier school isn’t going to make someone a successful hire. However, by hiring employees with the above intangible characteristics you will add significant value to your business. What are your thoughts? What do the best employees at your startup do?
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