Ideas by Matt Ehrlichman Founder of Porch.com
Q: Excluding budget, what are two to three things you should be able to check off before adding a team member?
— Ryan Cox
I’ve been building businesses and starting companies for years, and if you ask any of my current or past employees about what I value in an organization, speed would be at the very top of the list. That’s because speed is where young companies have an advantage to out execute and disrupt. We try to weave speed into the fabric of everything we do — from how we structure the company to setting big aggressive goals.
However, no matter how much we value “moving fast and breaking things,” there is one area of the business that we never rush: hiring and adding new members to our team.
When you’re aggressive as a company and shipping a product with a few bugs or selling ahead of your product, you can usually recover quickly, learn and iterate from mistakes. But hiring is different. One bad hire can wreck long-term havoc on a business and its culture, especially if it’s still developing.
At my company Porch.com, we’ve been steadily growing since launching a little less than two years ago and plan to continue that growth. But it’s not uncommon for us to take weeks or months to fill the most in-demand positions at every level in the company. Below are three things that we specifically make sure to check off the list when evaluating new hires to our company.
1. Culture Fit
This is something I talk about often and can’t emphasize enough. As an entrepreneur and leader, you can only craft your culture until a certain point before it takes on its own life and form. At that point, you better hope the values you have incubated into your team will evolve and spread in the right direction. Especially in the early days of hiring for your company, be crystal clear with your values and firmly measure and evaluate new candidates to that standard. It’s better and much easier to take the time to keep a high bar than it is to try to bring one back up after compromising.
2. Ego’s are In check
There’s nothing worse than finding a really talented candidate for a position, only to find out that they let their ego get in the way of what’s important. In a growing business, there is no room for big egos no matter how smart or experienced a candidate may be. How do you spot a candidate with an ego? Pretty easily. They are the ones that can’t work well in teams and don’t value other opinions. They are focused on their own individual performance and not energized by executing and achieving big goals with the team. Keep ego driven candidates at bay, and if one slips through the cracks in to your organization, remove them with haste.
3. Able to deal with ambiguity
Not everyone enjoys the unique challenges that come with the startup lifestyle. In the true spirit of moving fast, we look for individuals that are predisposed to thrive in ambiguous environments. Particularly in a startup, where the roadmap isn’t always clear, you really need people that are willing to blaze their own trail in order to push the business forward.