What I know about first hires: Fahad Al-Falah

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This article is a crosspost with Nuwait

Having spent the last 20 years identifying, hiring, and retaining team members, Fahad Al-Falah knows a thing or two about recruiting those first members of your staff.

Since his days on Wall Street, where he worked in equity research; then later, corporate finance in Kuwait and the wider Gulf, he has built two companies. First, a food startup called New Food Technology Kuwait, which he sold three years later.

Then in 2005, Menafile, an archiving and document management solutions company that works with government and family conglomerates.

He knows what it takes to build an effective execution team, for any venture, and it all starts with that first hire.

Do not use the term ‘employee’. Anyone joining your venture, at whatever stage it’s at, is inherently a partner, a team member, albeit in different capacities. Regarding them as such is the first step in attracting and building a long lasting and effective team.

Math and logic tests are key. For your first hire I think this is what really matters. They have to show their logic. I consider it an effective and quick indicator of raw mental capability, and then I would gauge personality through a number of face-to-face interviews.

Equity shares are earned over time. There is no need to put equity on the table straight away. Look to give equity once someone has been with you for a while. It is a good idea but needs to earnt, through continued participation and value creation in the entity, not as a sense of entitlement simply related to tenure.

A top down approach kills loyalty and efficiency. It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘ego’ when one is in a position of controlling others by virtue of a paycheck. But what managers fail to realize in those instances is that loyalty is earned and not given. Team members will generally have a much thinner tolerance for aggressively ‘forced’ leadership, especially if the ‘boss’ has not earned respect from their team over time.

Don’t oversell your vision. Entrepreneurs must realize that they have just as much of a responsibility towards candidates as the candidates have to the entity they’re joining. Candidates have aspirations and desires too, so, painting an unfair representation of the venture in order to insincerely entice them to join will just lead to a potentially bitter scenario later down the line.  

Feature Image via Pexels

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