Business consulting, author, public speaker, Denver CO
Top 3 tips for finding the best employees
It's about who they are, not just what they can do
By Steve Baker
As an executive of fast growing companies, I have always taken pride in the quality of our employees and have always felt they were the best. We didn’t find these employees because we were lucky, it was by following our plan for finding the best people for every position in every department. Here are my 3 tips.
Tip 1: Core Capability Strengths
Okay, this is the DUH tip. This obvious first tip is to find people with the strong core capabilities to perform the required and requested tasks. Interviewing and testing for the skill competencies to complete the department tasks goes without saying. But many young companies stop at this first step and make their hires. They regret it later.
Tip 2: Core Character Strengths
Because our companies were exploding in our growth, we wanted strong entrepreneurial spirits. But just as important to us was the strength and quality of a person’s character.
After it was determined that a person had the skills we were looking for, we conducted a final interview to look for the quality character traits that would fit our goals and the company personality for the team that we were building.
The character traits we were searching for:
Strong work ethic.
They worked or took on responsibilities at an early age and a work ethic is part of their being
Accepted risks, handled pressure and paid the price to reach their goals
Honest with a high degree of integrity
Quick thinkers and learners with an insatiable appetite to learn and grow
Competitive, with the drive to strive and win in whatever they are doing
Will follow the company plan, but have the ability to take charge when needed
Enjoy being part of a team and participated for the good of all
A positive attitude, sense of humor and enjoyment for life
The desire and ability to become a leader in his or her department and grow within the company
So, I can hear some of you saying, “Who are you looking for, Steve, a Boy Scout?” Well, growing up as a Boy Scout myself, I think the laws of a scout can pretty well set your course for finding great employees: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent, along with working hard to get those merit badges.
Tip 3: Look Outside Your Industry
Many companies hire only within their industry. I think this is a big mistake. People in the same industry too often think alike, act alike, and believe they already know everything about the industry.
Starting at the management level, it’s clear that success is driven by a creative team. I’ve had greater results in building a strong team by looking at successful people from other industries with transferable skills and new ideas and approaches.
My process has been supported by the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies, an eight year study of nearly 200 Silicon Valley startups conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business.
The results of the study confirmed that founding and senior management teams with a variety of prior company affiliations and broad functional diversity tend to be more successful more quickly.
The study showed evidence that “putting together teams that are diverse with respect to both functional diversity and prior company and industry experience is a good thing. It’s not just about who knows what, but where they come from.”
I have found that the same is true across all levels of employees. Because they come from different backgrounds, they work together to learn your industry and how to apply their knowledge and experiences. Diverse teams will bring more perspectives and different sets of information together and often do a better job of solving problems and being creative as a team.
Diversity of industry experiences increases employee engagement.
As stated in “The Economics of Engagement” published by the Human Capital Institute, “A fully engaged worker brims with enthusiasm, they contribute ideas, are optimistic about the company and its future, are seldom absent from work, typically stay with the organization longer and are among the organization’s most valuable ambassadors.”
By building a team with strong core character traits coupled with core capabilities and diverse experiences, you can create an unstoppable force for your company.
Steve Baker is a founder of successful businesses and a business advisor with a passion for every phase of business cycle from startup to exit. He’s also a public speaker and author of the award winning book "Pushing Water Uphill With a Rake." He lives in Colorado where he is an avid poor golfer. He welcomes your comments below and your e-mails at and invites you to visit his website: http://www.pushingwater.com