A few thoughts on hiring and why books can only help you so much

hiring

When we first started our company, I thought I had read enough books, blog posts, and articles written by “the experts” to know the ins and outs of hiring. Then, after building our initial team I realized that a lot of what I read in those books didn’t actually apply, things were different, our product was unique, our market was unique, heck the city and specific office we were in were unique and all of those factors combined made things different.

Then we hired someone who considered themselves an expert at hiring. He said I just hadn’t read the right books, I needed to read theĀ Patrick Lencioni books, which I agree are awesome, but they also helped me realize something. You can’t learn real business lessons by reading a book, startup or not, you have to do it yourself.

Now I’m not saying these books are useless. Yes, I’ve picked up solid nuggets of information from everything I’ve read, and I still think that The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is one of the best books I’ve read, period, and I’ve read it twice just to make sure everything sinks in. Still, you can read all the books in the world and encounter situations that, surprise surprise, aren’t in a book.

In startups this is more true than ever since you’re dealing with an incredibly fast-paced environment with a product or service that likely doesn’t have product market fit yet, isn’t completely built, or doesn’t have the right funding to really do what you want. As a founder you have to balance all of these things, keeping the company in a good place financially, keeping your customers happy, making sure the product is delivering as expected, and at the same time, juggle the most important thing of all – building a great team that’s excited and inspired to join you on your mission.

I know a lot of people that have been Managers at companies, they’ve build and managed teams, read all the books, then they become founders themselves and poof – everything changes. Yes, it’s different hiring when it’s your own company vs. being a Manager or Director and hiring for a company that you’re working for. Like I said above, plenty of those awesome lessons you read about in a book still apply, but many don’t – it’s a different world and like most things in startupland, you need to learn by doing.

It’s an exciting time for our company, we’re opening up an office in San Francisco and making two new hires in the Bay Area. I can tell you that the process we’re following, and the way in which we’re filtering to get the right kind of person for our company is very different from the way we did it two years ago. We’ve had the experience of giving the “serial job hopper” a try, who claimed they weren’t a serial job hopper (and said this time was different) and, yes, they turned out to still be a serial job hopper. We’ve also hired amazing people that we gave a chance to, even though the role wasn’t exactly a fit, and we’ve seen them soar to new heights.

The key here is that we’re always learning, and while I still read books, articles, and blog posts about hiring. I know that the biggest lessons are those we have learned from experience (both good and bad), and those we are going to learn. To be clear I’m no expert, we’re still new startup founders, and the best we can do is take our experiences and use that to guide our path forward. What I can tell you is that while reading books can build a great foundation, if you want to know what it’s really like to start your own company and built a team, you’ll have to do it yourself, no book can tell you everything you need to know, that’s where taking the plunge and doing it yourself really is the only way to learn.

Just remember, you’re always learning.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Paul McMenamy October 4, 2017, 2:18 am

    Absolutely agree Morgan – it is an extremely delicate process. And, no matter how seep you go with your own “hiring process” there is still never a guarantee!
    We have worked with clients over the past 20 years in this area and one element we find adds huge value is to have selected candidates complete a Psychometric Assessment – it provides immense insights as to what’s going on “under the hood”. Not a failsafe but still providing a view of the candidate’s iceberg “below the surface”.
    http://novainnovative.com/profiling.html
    And there are many Assessments out there and not all are cracked up to their promises. We have identified and used one that’s around since the 70’s and it’s always provided further discussion points with the candidate.
    Just contact me if anybody wants more details on it – I’d be happy to share.

    Reply
  • Jin October 4, 2017, 5:31 am

    Question for you:

    How to protect your custom php code from being stolen? Are there services that do that, is that something taken care by phpndeveloper or outside services such as server provider?

    Reply
  • Joe October 4, 2017, 3:33 pm

    Well reading books is a passion for me and I have left many who never return to their place, I sad but the most interesting of books is to note that you and I can see something good for another day than having the basis of what you do years in your notepad and file in your favorite place.

    Employees to work on your statues. a professor of entrepreneurship from Iese School of Business in Barcelona in 2002 and currently President of Business Angels in Spain Mr. Roure, give his opinion on the employees that you or others like me to be interested in a particular person for their know-how in the position you wish to occupy in the Startups.

    Mr. Roure say you know well to be a person and I answer no, then what you have to do is pray the two a week in a place, to meet both of you and you will find during this week many things that you like and others that you do not you are interested in the job you were planning to give, instead you are a smart person and do your job very well.

    But the question at the end of the week to become who looks for the employee will be the ideal employee and review the notes and see that there are issues that personally would not be able to occupy his position for very good in his work and in his specialty.

    The employees and CEO have a personal past that affect the understanding between him and you, also with part of the team ..

    In those years the understanding of a week together was of 40% gained with 60% the Startup since the Ceo to have discovered in a week the dark part that the employee hid. A human resources company does not share their past personal life, only the professional is valid.

    Reply

Leave a Comment