Startup managers are brilliant at attracting talent. They recruit the best talented people, they don’t just hire anyone. I found that managers who are great at recruiting were also very skilled at organizing and guiding new recruits, enabling them to be quickly effective and excited about working. That’s how a great startup turns into a great company. That is how it is built.
Startup builders recruit people constantly. For first-timers, the intensity of the need for more employees triggers a sense of near desperation: “We’ve got to get those missing people on board, NOW!” That can all too often lead to compromises, to hiring less than the best, “dumbing down” the average skill in the startup.
By contrast, veterans know by experience that the challenge is to “never compromise,” to only hire top tier, A-rated players. No compromises. In spite of how difficult it is to say “No” to hiring just anybody to fill the desperately unfilled job, I’ve watched the veterans retain their positive determination result in company success after success – by recruiting only the best of the best.
Skilled professionals don’t just show up. Each hire takes a lot of time to find, attract, hire, onboard, and get productive. It’s a learn-on-the-job skill.
The flow of fresh arrivals is continuous. In addition to new employees joining, some will be leaving. When a key employee quits – or has to be dismissed – startup managers don’t fall apart, instead they adjust and keep on delivering recruiting results.
Some days startup builders do nothing but recruit, at all hours. Because it‘s so personal and confidential, recruiting often starts before getting to the office, as well as after dinner and on weekends, when candidates are free to communicate from their cars and homes.
The formal organization keeps changing month after month. New hires have to get used to that. Different than in established corporations, the new enterprise organization is more aptly labeled as dis-organized and constantly changing. Startup jobs are soft and flexible, get modified month after month, in spite of what a person was hired to do. Job titles have little meaning. People do what has to be done, regardless of their title. Sometimes that calls for courage, other times common sense and humility.
I’ve seen startup job reality sink in when the founder CEO realized he was going to have to be the person buying the company coffee maker at Costco on the weekend.
I recall another time when the solo product marketing manager texted the Chief Marketing Officer “Boss, I’m at SFO heading for the gate on the Japan Airlines overnight flight to Tokyo. Our new X25 model burst into fire in the customer’s test lab today. Sue is in New York, I texted her and she said ‘Go for it! I’ll join you in three days.’ so I’m going in tonight.” Sue was the CTO. No time for turf battles. Just get it done. Startup people live like that. They adjust on the fly to each fresh situation, get someone to deliver the results needed. Regardless of title and turf.
END OF BLOG ON "RECRUTING BRILLIANCE"
Next time I’ll talk about “(4) MARKETABLE STARTUP CEOs”
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!