Start-up success: whom not to hire

One of the common characteristic of most successful companies is the existence of a strong well knitted core team. The core team is the fulcrum around which the organizational learning, experience and knowledge gets ingrained. It is the team that ensures how ownership, initiative, overall organizational culture of the unit is defined and sustained over period. There are many articles written about what kinds of people to spot and recruit for core team. Some generic characteristics that must be avoided are:

Expiry date “selfie”.
They join a start-up not with the interest of gaining experience and be valuable, but join for gaining those stars that are missing on their jackets. Their primary objective of joining a start-up is to gain relevant experience required for completing a professional certification or gain employability in a newer field. Many of them have a definitive expiry date to work with, often coinciding with the professional bodies requirement. While they continue to hold their tasks and deliver results, they would abhor “ownership” and “leadership”. Once the expiry dates near, these associates may find issues with basic infrastructure or working culture and seek newer pastures.

Low integrity “partner”
Many a start-up break because the partners had their own agenda’s. Some would siphon off the revenues, overbill for expenses or spend on booze in Irish Pubs when their official commitments show they are at Down 0. Inflated travel bills, and oversized Pizza parties are early indicators of where the wind is tailing.

Dough only “Scamper”
While salary and perks are important, core team members like to take the challenge of building and sustaining a dream. Scampers may impress at interviews with their middle-class fire in the belly talk, but would dash for a few green ducks.

Sapping “Digger”
Most start-up trust their associates to contribute their might and may not have any formal review and monitor mechanisms. That is where some associates discover opportunities to run errands and businesses on side. Some join start-up to engage and formalize their life events like marriage and divorce. It is not uncommon to see an associate availing leaves for a one month marriage and on return promptly exiting the start-up.

Entrepreneurs building a successful start-up must consider what Dr Kurian, Father of Milk revolution in India, said of spotting long term associates. His mantra was simple, he would walk with them in the corridors of Amul Factory at Anand. He would spot who had picked up the trash he has wantonly thrown into a dust bin. Otherwise, he would accidently take the associate to an employee who has come with crumpled hair and attire and watch how the employee is addressed and motivated to come with better dress sense. His reasoning, love for a place, dignity of labour, sense of ownership and belongingness were all there to witness in that simple act.

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