WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
I went to a social distancing birthday party today for one of my daughter's friends. The father and I talked for a couple of hours about business. He is a president of a major global lifestyle clothing brand. We got on the subject of my recently launched search fund. I explained to him my absolute biggest weakness is hiring people as a whole. He began to explain to me what he had done over the past few weeks.
It occurred to him that during this lockdown, it was a slower time to get to know his directors. They are going through a very hard time, to say the least, as JC Penny and Neiman Marcus are filing for bankruptcy protection (Restructuring). So, he is taking the opportunity to get to know his directors and figuring out what makes them tick. When hiring them, he found various qualities that he loved about them, but never gave them thought. But, the overwhelming coincidence of each of them came apparent when they were speaking up on their Zoom calls recently. These are the three qualities all must possess:
1. Enthusiasm for the job. He is the president of a lifestyle clothing brand. He told me of the 31-year old director who worked their ass off from a small little boutique fashion shop in York England to become one of their youngest directors ever. Why did this happen? Because she has enthusiasm and energy for what she does. She absolutely loved the brand, absolutely enjoys what she does, and embodies the company in every bit of her life.
2. Integrity. The company, unfortunately, had to layoff many people. Moreover, the executives had to take a huge pay cut to keep the company alive. He noticed on his paycheck that the pay cut hadn't taken effect and he wrote an email to the board about it. They appreciated his honesty so much that they didn't make his pay cut retroactive. This is something that every one of his directors also had. Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking.
3. A hard work ethic. Lets face it - This is something that not everyone has. Sometimes we want to be with the family, sometimes we want to travel, or sometimes we just don't feel motivated. However, the best don't get that way by putting work aside. They find time to do these things, but also find time to work. My friend (by way of my daughter) explained to me he is working 80 hour weeks now with furloughs, layoffs, and more... And so are each and everyone of his directors. Moreover, no one is complaining about it. It is this kind of attitude that is needed to be an amazing employee.
This has been digesting in me since we talked a few hours ago and it has helped me realize that a warm body in the seat can be just as much of a liability as an asset. As he explained, he has someone in London that is AMAZING. However, he has someone that does the same job duty for the USA, but doesn't get 1/10th the work done. Why? Because of the 3 aforementioned qualities. He explained that, on a go forward basis, these are three qualities he will always be looking for.
I'm curious your thoughts. Are there any good books you would recommend on reading that highlight qualities of great employees? The best book I've read in this regard is, "From Good to Great". However, this is more of business entities and groups - not individuals. So, I am happy to read your thoughts and experiences through this.