Investors are lined up, the website is done, glossy promotional material with smiling faces is all set, your core team is pumped, and you are ready to go live. Now is the time to worry about hiring the rest of your team. A social startup, unlike other businesses, is not just about “business”; it is also about passion and values, without which you cannot survive. Hiring the best team with all of the necessary ingredients is the key to your success.
That said, "best" can't be determined simply by a university transcript or a recommendation letter; best is what gels most effectively with your enterprise and its values. Define your own best and then hire, not just those with suitable expertise, but those with suitable personalities that contribute toward success of your start-up.
Below are the seven people you should consider hiring:
- Someone with Passion: What else is there
to look for if your chosen hire doesn’t have passion? Social
Enterprise is about changing existing behaviours and mind-sets, and
only a person with passion and purpose can make it
happen. An entrepreneur
said, “Purpose may point you in the right direction, but
it’s passion that propels you.” Enough said.
- Someone who is Social Media Savvy: The
current day and age is all about social media (until we find
something more fun). If there is a potential hire who displays good
social media skills (blogging, engaging, familiarity and presence
on Social Media platforms and a Social Media following), do
consider getting him or her on board. This person has a voice, and
if used correctly, it can offer a tactical advantage to your
enterprise. Of course it goes without saying that when I say SM
savvy I don’t just mean updating Facebook status multiple times a
day and posting YouTube videos of cats doing somersaults!
- A Problem Solver: Social enterprise is
challenging. From getting community support to gauging measurable
impact of your work, it poses many more challenges than a regular
business. If you have a potential hire that can get to the root of
a problem and suggest workable solutions ; he is the one you cannot
miss. I can hear you saying, “But how do we find out?” Well, there
are many pre-employment tests like Wonderlic
Test that help gauge the aptitude of prospective employees
for learning and problem-solving. Have the applicant take these
tests, but trust your gut feeling in the end.
- Someone with Compassion: Thomas Merton said,
“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the
interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of
one another, and all involved in one another.” Simply speaking, if
a person does not have compassion, he won’t be able to appreciate
this interdependence and has no place in a social enterprise.
- A Strategic Thinker: A person with foresight
and vision is an asset for any business, but even more so for a
social one. It is much easier for forward thinking, strategic
people to look positively at what may seem like a short term
decision because they know it can provide substantial societal and
business benefits. The person who can see the bigger picture is the
person you cannot afford to miss.
- Someone from the Community: When you are
working in a certain community, it is imperative that you have
someone from thatcommunity as part of your team. This person should
be familiar with local issues and should have a position of trust
within the community. If trained properly, he or she can
prove to be invaluable in bridging the gap and managing
expectations between the community and your enterprise.
- A Good listener: Companies usually look for charismatic speakers who can move audience to tears with a well-rehearsed, yet oddly spontaneous-sounding speech. While it is great to have a few (very few) such people as part of your team, t a social enterprise benefits more from good listeners. Listening is an engagement tool that is highly underrated. As Dr. Covey in his timeless book stresses, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This approach is key to effective dialogue and results.
All of these traits are important for building a cohesive team, but I’m not suggesting that you need to hire seven people to find these seven traits. On the contrary, you may find them all in one, or make a point of being sure that anyone hired on your team has some of these traits (e.g. passion, listening skills, problem solving and strategic ability). The key is to define what you’re looking for in a holistic manner so that your social enterprise can maximize its effectiveness. Good luck!
Photo from gwen's photostream.