Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Employee selection in Start ups: A few useful pointers

Entrepreneurship is often considered the pursuit of a goal without being restricted by the limitations imposed by resources. The goal could be limited only to financial gains, but could also include larger gains. Invariably, each of these goals has an end customer who benefits the most from the action of the entrepreneur. Often, if one doesn't think of the customer right from the beginning as suggested in the earlier post, one realizes this extremely practical learning at a high cost!  

Translating the idea into a product/service without being restricted by the resources currently under control would imply seeking support from other sources. While co-founder (read about benefits/drawbacks and implications here) is definitely an option considered there are many other who do not like to cede control over their business and attempt going for an employee who could help realize the idea/concept into a product/service on offer.  

My interactions with the start up ecosystems have helped me find some better approach that some entrepreneurs prefer. Here are a some of the pointers I believe would help lot of other entrepreneurs:

What role am I hiring the employee for?
Often the lack of structure could confuse the founder about the skills that one is trying to look out in his employee. Would it be apt to choose an employee for the IT development involves or for the sales side?

My personal advice in this is to keep the business aspect with the founders always - not because it could be a business secret, but because there could be important decisions that need to be taken on the ground and direct customer interactions could help this process.
The need to hire an employee begins from the need to accelerate the production to revenue cycle of the business. This gives a complete spectrum of activities and the notion of job-description wouldn't make any sense here. Recollect the notion of uncertainty again here - would you prefer some one who is a sort of specialist in one area or a person with generic skills adaptable to the surprise scenario that is so common in the entrepreneurial journey.

Clearly, independent of the dominant role for which you are hiring. looking for some one who is flexible is better - lets call them Jack of All Trades (JoAT). 

Note:JoATs are better as long as there is no significant specialization that is to be needed in the product/service development. [We are still in the survival phase]. Working would JoATs for too long could in fact begin limit the growth of the business. Switching over to specialists at the right time is important as one navigates the growth stage.
What am I looking for in the new employee joining?
Flowing from the above aspect of preferring a JoAT to a specialist what needs to be understood is that ability to learn quickly is important. If you employee is not willing to bend his/her back and put in the effort with you in your pursuit it better stay away from the candidate. Many candidates come in with the notion of a fixed working time - if one are fixated with a notion of rigidity, it definitely an indicator of the inflexibility that is so essential to live through the survival phase.

And remember to take note of the thumb rule - attitude is more important than aptitude - this is the ground on which any recruitment has to be based. 

Reading this blog and thinking about it, is surely a precursor to the large issue of organization culture that is often ignored in start ups - this is definitely an issue for another blog!
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1 comment:

  1. Great advice that should benefit all companies, including seasoned recruiters and not just start ups or budding entrepreneurs. Not for the large number of fossils that populate the IT space in India.