The Most Important Game Changers

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BY ANNE TONER FUNG | ANNE TONER FUNG CONSULTING

As a startup founder, you may be hoping that your technology contains the seeds of disruptive innovation and that your product has the potential to be a true industry game changer.

However, even the sexiest product and most inspired technology won’t scale by itself. Realistically, your most important game changers will be the earliest people you bring on board. Those first few employees you hire will likely make or break your business. According to Rob Richman, author of The Culture Blueprint, Cultural Strategist and founder of Zappos Insights, your first employees are also “early adopters”. Be as rigorous when hiring them as you are in defining target customer personas or selecting a co-founder. Ask tough questions. Paint a clear picture of what being part of a startup is like and what you need them to do. Set very clear expectations in both directions!

In reading a recently released report from Universum, the reasons for Richman’s passion on this point becomes clear. According to this research, “A” talent outperforms average talent by 150% across job duties. These individuals, referred to in the report as Game Changers, have “the passion, curiosity, creativity and drive to influence both their peers and their companies… their ability to think and act in new ways are key factors for companies to thrive in this rapidly evolving marketplace.”

Perhaps Steve Jobs said it best:

“I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream… A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

This is the kind of people-power you need to drive and scale a startup. As a founder, you already, or soon will know, that the startup environment is like a crucible. Everything is on the line, and everyone involved either blazes together or burns-out together. In the process, the fire is all-consuming. It burns away any dross leaving only the gold behind – assuming you have some gold in the pot to begin with.

Resumes will not help you find these people. Why not? Because resumes do not accurately reflect a person’s capabilities. Sometimes they don’t even truthfully describe a candidate’s basic education and experience. Here are a few sobering revelations about resumes, gathered by Cream HR for their eBook, Recruiting and Hiring 3.0.

  • 31% of people admit to lying on a resume.[1]
  • 80% of resumes are intentionally misleading.[2]
  • 64% of resumes overstate accomplishments.[3]
  • 34% of resumes contain outright lies about experience or education.[4]

So, how can you find your game changers?

Again, according to Cream HR, start by looking for the following characteristics in your candidates:

  1. Goal Directedness: A+ employees stay focused to achieve a common goal. Promoting themselves takes a backseat to a job well done. They set exceptional standards, achieve them, and are a shining example for others.
  2. Passion: A+ employees have a passion for the problem their company is solving. They aren’t merely concerned with furthering their own career; they’re concerned with furthering the company as a whole.
  3. Scrappiness: A+ players know that where there’s a will, there’s a way. They’re resourceful and industrious. Success is a matter of duty for them.
  4. Experience: the right experience is great, but not always easy to find. Don’t shy away from high potential rookies. They often have fewer bad employment habits to break and they can be trained to deliver according to your preferences rather than those of their previous employers.

Specifically you want to find evidence of excellent problem solving skills, a strong work ethic and a good cultural fit. And for those times when you end up with a misfit, in spite of your best efforts; make sure you have a policy in place for quickly getting rid of a bad hire.


[2] Resume Fraud: Little White Lies Aren’t So Little Anymore, LansingBusinessNews.com, Karen Bush Schneider

[3] Do You Know Who You’re Hiring?, Human Resources – About.com, Susan M. Heathfield

[4] Beware of Bad Hires: 10 Scary Stats HR Pros and Job Seekers Must Know, CommPro.biz, Agency Management Central

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Toner Fung has extensive experience working with businesses to help them achieve sustainable competitive advantage. She also helps not-for-profit organizations ensure that they excel in the competition for (and effective use of) scarce resources. With angel Investor experience in the tech start-up space she provides the ability to draw from different perspectives when analyzing and executing on business needs and opportunities. Connect with Anne here.