The past few weeks have been extremely interesting as I begin the process of setting up a business. The consultancy has been great and is something I will continue to do, however, I have also realised the importance of just starting a business. There are many reasons but the most integral for me is just scale.
I want to teach organisations and great African innovators how to communicate. But I am one person. I need a team; with it, I can offer my services to more phenomenal organisations across the continent.
As I polish my business model, I realise I never thought how much recruitment would be a struggle. It’s always easy to be a coach on a bench and talk about recruiting the right talent, finding motivated and qualified people. But as my business development coach advised me. I also need to create a growth environment for my team.
As much as I want people to justify why they should work with me. I also need to justify to them why my company would be the ideal place for their growth and career trajectory.
In the past few blog posts, I have constantly reiterated the need for a vision for an organisation. But even as I have this big dream to achieve, I need to also find people whose life’s visions align with mine.
Once you advertise job openings you quickly realise that it’s a juggle between mass applications and headhunting. You want many applications but you also want it targeted without getting too much chaff to have to sift through to get the right candidates.
As I commence my shortlisting this week there are a few things that I decided I would be deliberate about as I seek to find people who suit my business vision.
- Educational Background meh! This is a slow global trend with organisations like Google, Apple, IBM and others no longer requiring degrees and is more focused on skills. I am a testament to that. Not to downplay degrees, I am in the pursuit of one now. But what my experience has taught me, is that due to the limitation of finances and life’s turmoil, a determined person with intrinsic drive will teach themselves and push themselves and work much harder because they know nothing will come for free. They know that because they are already disqualified in one aspect of their lives, they will work hard to compensate for that. Aside from that, I just need people who know what they want and are willing to put in the manhours and heart to deliver.
- Values matter – I have a vision for my company, but I also have a value system that will constitute the organisational culture. I need to know that the people I work with can fit in that culture. And this is where I find it most difficult to assess and gauge.
I used to write articles for the Daily Nation magazine called My Network. I wrote articles on CV writing and pointers on writing cover letters. Some young readers emailed me on reading the article and following my pointers wondering what they were doing wrong having unsuccessfully applied for various jobs. I recall telling them that “sometimes you may just not fit the organisational culture.” Sometimes it’s just a vibe the recruiter feels makes them feel your not “the one”. In retrospect what I told those young readers a few years ago hits me now. All boxes may be checked by an applicant, but if their values don’t fit my organisation’s no matter how hard I may love everything else about them, I can’t compromise on my value system.
- Self -Drive – This was something I hadn’t zeroed in on until I spoke to a friend of mine whose also running his startup. He’s recruited, trained and fired several people over the last 6 months and I have been learning from what he shares.
Self Drive was such a critical thing he pointed out was missing from those he fired. He went a bit deeper to point out that maybe it’s best to work with people with entrepreneurial backgrounds. Those are the people who understand the grind and the drive to make business work when circumstances “bitch” slap you and your business. These are people who have the intrinsic drive to wake up in the morning, they are problem solvers and have perseverance. They get where you are coming from. And if they have faced and overcome challenges similar to some that you face in the business, they will be partners in the process of growth. Now, this is a breed of people I would love to work with.
The reason I didn’t add the usual ‘can work without supervision, team player’ etc. is that those are a given for any employee. Any adult who doesn’t have those skills needs to re-think their life seriously. Recruitment for the right people with the best fitting skill, temperament and values is a fundamental aspect of good business that we so often take for granted. As a startup, I realise it is a make or break. It also exerts pressure on me to ensure after I get these brilliant people, I too need to offer them a work environment to thrive and build their vision as well as mine.
This is going to be an interesting journey, I will keep you all posted on how it goes!