A lot of things contribute to the success or failure of a startup. One of such things is the workforce. Like Jim Collins says, it’s having the right people in the right seats that will drive a company (read: startup) in the right direction.
Having the right people gives life to your company. If you have the right people, you will always find the best way to do things. You may stumble at times, but because you will always get back on track.
With this in mind, it’s important for startup founders to note that not everyone can work and thrive at a startup. So it’s up to them to know what to look for in the people they are hiring or have hired. It’s difficult to know what a new hire will turn out to be like, so it will be good to know the standard you are expecting. What kinds of people should you avoid or gently remove from your startup?
1. Iso-loners (Isolated loners)
Anyone who’s ever worked at a startup before will tell you that there’s no such thing as minding your own business. Because everybody’s business is your business. Working at a startup means you should be ready to take on another person’s unfinished task because that person is also taking on another person’s unfinished task. Working at a startup requires teamwork and it involves occasionally stepping on each other’s toes.
At a startup, there is a blurry line that separates ‘my work’ from ‘your work’. So if you hire someone who prefers to work alone and doesn’t like to be ‘disturbed by others’, you may be shooting yourself in the foot.
This is not to say that iso-loners are bad employees. No. This article isn’t about who’s bad and who’s not. It’s about who’s right for your startup. Loners have the advantage of being able to work with minimal supervision; but the ones fit for a startup also know when to come out of their shell. Hiring someone who would rather be on their own all the time and not discuss ideas with their colleagues will be a bad idea.
2. The salary-minded
These are the people who can’t think beyond their monthly earnings, so they can only work as hard as they think their remuneration is worth. And the thing is, startups don’t usually pay very well. So imagine if you hire someone with this type of mentality, do you think you’ll be doing yourself good?
Salary-minded people don’t believe in going the extra mile. They would rather complete their work and sit around doing nothing than ask around for anyone who needs help. They are more focused on making themselves look good than making the whole team look good. Because they know that looking good increases their value in the mind of the boss. I bet you wouldn’t want to have such people around you for long, now, would you?
3. The 9-5ers
This is the group of people you should totally avoid. The people stuck in the 9-5 mindset.
If ever there is work to be done at the office after closing hours, trust that you will never see them. They may be active during work hours (which doesn’t automatically mean they are being productive), but once it’s 5pm, they are out of sight.
Justin Irabor aptly describes the people in this group as functional ghost workers. “People who appear to be working in an establishment, but who, once their output is reviewed, are found to be contributing little – or nothing – to the overall company-wide goal.”
4. Lazy-minded people
Lazy-minded people are people who find it difficult to think outside the box, or people who aren’t very good at thinking for themselves. Lazy-minded people are good at following orders without asking questions. They may be good for physically-demanding work but not very helpful when it comes to contributing ideas that will take the startup forward.
Lazy-minded people are not what you need at your startup. You need people who know how to ask intelligent questions at the right time. You need people who see beyond the present – beyond the immediate – and into the future. People who are always thinking and asking, “what next?”