The single most important piece of any business is its employees. The people. The team. The soldiers on the front lines do the work and carry the flag. The standard bearers. The energy. The ideas. The public face.
If you were to build a car with employee metaphors they’d be every conceivable part: It’s doors, tires, engine, windshield, doors, handles? Grill? Mats? Mirrors?… alright that’s enough. On the other side of that coin, you can relate the same metaphors to a lemon. If a business isn’t working you can attribute that to the employees as well. Bad parts, bad car. Culture is top-down and so having the right parts to build your concept is paramount. Beyond paramount. Crucial. Where the rubber truly meets the road.
Being that Zirtual is a company that has been hiring, and hiring well I might add (…ahem) constantly since inception I thought I’d go straight to the top and the leadership team; CEO and Founder Maren Kate Donovan, her Co-Founders, Erik Jensen and Collin Vine, plus the Head of Hiring, Chelsea Bodek, to find out what some fundamentals are to hire well and building a well-tuned machine. I also found out some ways/keys to avoid building a lemon.
A culture of values
The most repeated word I heard from Maren, Erik, Collin, and Chelsea was “culture.” Culture, culture, culture. Having a strong and defined culture is the blueprint. The set expectations. Like in love, knowing who you are is fundamental to getting what you need. According to Collin, the number one thing for a company to remember and be aware of when hiring is to “know what a culture fit is and isn’t… Hire for fit.” or as Maren succinctly puts it “Hire based on your core values.”
Quality features for the road ahead
So, under the hood of culture, what sort of traits are they on the lookout for? What are qualities in a prospective employee that make their ears perk up? Every company needs different parts to function successfully based on what their requirements are but here are a few thoughts from Maren, Collin, and Chelsea:
For Maren, it’s pretty simple and straightforward. She views “humility and high organizational skills” as desirable. Collin got a little more in-depth. He finds a “growth mindset, the ability to learn and improve over time” and “culture fit…an absolute must”. (There’s that word culture again). Where they overlapped was the need for strong problem-solving skills. As Collin stated, an “ability to problem find and problem solve” is essential. No matter the qualities, what is most important is the quality itself. Chelsea makes a great point that seems obvious until you’re up against it with this experienced advise, “Quality always—no matter how fast you need to scale, remember that quality hires are never something you want to sacrifice.”
Troubleshooting: find it and fix it
Possibly the best way to hire successfully is to avoid the pitfalls that can get a company into trouble. So in true troubleshooting fashion here are a couple of questions and the responses to help keep you from being stranded on the side of life’s highway with a smoldering hulk of a business:
What mistakes do you see companies make when hiring?
- Not caring about the fit of the applicant, i.e. prioritizing experience and/or skills only
- Having dispassionate people run the hiring process—it’s your people, don’t outsource it to people who don’t give a **Radio Edit**!
- Going off resumes only, versus testing skills and doing several phone screens
- Not having your cultural perspective/voice during the hiring process—set the tone right off the bat, so you attract people you want
- Scare tactics—Super intense interviews meant to stress test applicants. I believe that you get more honesty (the good and the bad) when you create a safe interview environment
What are key red flags in interviewees?
- Bad attitude/Negativity (talks negatively of last employers, people, etc)
- Wrong motivations (“I’m doing this ’cause my Mom told me to stop playing video games all day,” people who are only looking for a stepping stone to their next endeavor, etc.)
- Lack of depth in application—if someone doesn’t take the time and effort to really think things through then it shows they are rushing and don’t really care
- Lack of humility, misspells, not doing enough research about the company before the interview
Rules of the road
So, you’ve hired someone motivated, humble, and organized with great problem-solving skills that is a great fit into your company’s culture. Don’t just drag them out into the fast lane. You have to break into their engine. Motivate them. To give them a few pointers to ensure their success and therefore your success, here are Collin’s tips for a new hire. Happy Motoring!!:
- Have an incredible training program that leaves them feeling confident and super excited.
- Explain expectations. Make these clear and explicit, too.
- Support—through community and continued learning.
- Show them a good time! Have a little fun with it, eh? (Sorry, made in Canada)