Hiring highly effective people

by Jini Stolk

There are a number of important jobs waiting to be filled in our community, so I thought I would provide some new perspectives on the crucial task of making the right hire.

Richard Branson, founder of all things Virgin and a guy who’s done his fair share of hiring, says that when he’s searching for a great employee the most important thing he looks for is someone whose personality fits his company culture. Skills can be learned he says: you want to hire people who are fun, friendly, caring and love working with others, and it’s up to you, the interviewer, to delve deep enough to find that out.

If you’re looking for someone who fits your company culture, then you definitely need to understand and know how to communicate that culture. I was impressed with Tarragon Theatre’s recent job posting, which is crystal clear about what kind of company Tarragon is and what they’re looking for: in this case, someone who will be “part of the important conversation about our future audiences”, who loves theatre, loves young people, loves the idea of building tomorrow’s audiences, and can help  “re-imagine,” “build relationships,” “dream up and execute original ways…of connecting,” while making sure programs are “evolving intelligently.”

I’m looking forward to meeting the person who gets that job.

When Richard Branson does look at experience and expertise, he focuses on transferable skills held by team players who are willing to pitch in and try their hand at different sorts of jobs. It sounds like the arts to me.

It also fits nicely with a recent piece by Lou Adler whose  Most Important Interview Question of All Time I wrote about. He looks for seven core traits to separate those who are a reasonable fit from those who are exceptional . (Because these traits are taken from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I found them to be a thought-provoking checklist against my own work “habits”…)

Briefly, he looks for people who take initiative; who define the outcomes they want to achieve before creating the process; who prioritize rather than just react; who consider the impact of their actions on all stakeholders; who try to understand a problem before coming up with solutions; who look for synergies, bringing people together to achieve better results; and who are constantly working to improve themselves and learn.

Allowing people the creative opportunities and satisfactions that would come with this way of working could be seen as one of the important perks of working in our business.

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