I started my professional journey quite early. Unlike most people around me, I did not wait to graduate to start that journey. It has been a little more than 7 years since that journey began. On the way, whatever I have experienced in different roles, including working as an employee, hiring, working as a consultant or a vendor, finding co-founders, service providers and business partners and teaching, made me realize that outcome of much of what we do depends on the kind of people we choose to work with. This learning has been accelerated since I started hiring for my current startup. The fate of any business is sealed by the kind of people who work for it – and as co-founders, we have to be extremely choosy.
The rule of being choosy about the people you work with applies to everyone, not just startup entrepreneurs. Which people do you choose to work with? No, it is not as simple as just betting on the smart people.
I will share a few things I consider while I am trying to decide whether or not I am going to work with someone.
Do they take responsibility for outcome?
Do you know someone who says “I can only try?” If you go to them with a task, while agreeing they will not assure you that the work will be done. Instead, they will just say that they will try their best. This is a very frequent problem with freshers and immature professionals. They don’t understand that as professionals a large part of our work is to own uncertainty and give certainty to other people. No one cares about how hard you try or how much work you put in, ultimately it all boils down to what results you have been delivering. Will you be willing to go under the scalpel of a hard working surgeon who says “I am not sure if I can stitch you back properly after I cut you open, but I will try my best”? Will you not prefer a doctor who takes responsibility for the outcome and tells you “don’t worry, just relax – I will take care of everything”?
No business gets paid to try. No businesses in the long run get rewarded just for efforts. A hardworking lawyer who cannot deliver results to a client will not grow his practice much – but is that surprising? Who would care about how hard that lawyer works? Don’t be surprised if the people who are afraid to own the outcome of their work lands up with low paying, low stakes jobs behind some desk where it is safe. We choose to work with people who take responsibility for the outcome of the work they are supposed to do, and doggedly follow their goal until the desired outcome is achieved.
People who take responsibility of the outcome rather than just promising effort are the ones to watch out for. They are the best people to work with.
People who stand behind a cause
Far too many are way too self-centred and narrow visioned to understand the power of a collective cause. People who can solidly stand behind a cause that is not of immediate interest to them are again, much more likely to be successful than the rest. They are more likely to work better in a team, and they attract other people like them to the project or venture they are working on. They often build strong professional and personal networks around themselves that contributes to their success and happiness in life.
As individuals, we are small and weak. We become way more powerful, even when acting as a lone warrior, when we stand behind a cause. Only few people take an approach like this to their career – but the ones who do often emerge as superstars.
People who can think long term
This is probably the most important factor. Most of us give in to immediate temptations, without calculating long term impacts. A huge number of people shift jobs when they are offered a small monetary raise, without considering repercussions. They do not plan their career and just go with the flow. Many people do not properly research before opting for a job opportunity. These are the people who cannot think long term, and you do not want them in important, decision making positions.
If someone shows the sign of thinking long term however, that is rare and must be aptly rewarded. They are much more likely to be able to act in the best interest of the projects they are working on as well as manage to succeed in the long run for their own selves.