“You’ve built an intentional team, you should write about that!” These were the words coming out of our Marketing Manager’s mouth in a content planning meeting. What was going on in my mind was, “What is an intentional team?”
This week, the B.C. Tech Summit took place, which was a two-day event with over 5,000 participants from tech companies all over the province. One of the Summit’s pillars was how to deepen the B.C. tech talent pool and I knew I wanted to write about my team. It wasn’t until I was sitting at my desk watching my team collaborate that I began thinking about why this environment and this team works. It all came down to the strategy behind what we consider and look for when we hire to build a cohesive team.
To me, hiring an intentional team means bringing together a group of people from a range of backgrounds and levels of experience who push each other and question each other to fail together, help each other scramble back up, and to do it all over again. There are a lot of cool companies out there, and there always will be. What keeps people around and motivated is who they’re working with and what they’re building together. And that’s what gets me excited about Aequilibrium.
Hire the growers
I like to surround myself with people who will question and challenge me. And these don’t have to be people with years of experience. A few of my team members are recent university graduates—and when I say recent, I mean they finished their undergraduate degrees a year or less. In the short amount of time they’ve been here, they’ve already contributed massively to the company. Whether that’s hiring the right people for the team, securing some major clients, or fostering a sense of community in our office, they all have a desire to grow and make an impact. They also have areas of interest that aren’t my realms of expertise. Them, along with the rest of the team, have this natural way of being where they treat Aequilibrium as their own. They’re their own worst critics and take ownership over what they do to take action, get up when they fail, and keep going until something great happens. What’s the intent behind hiring these people? They become a team that, if I was out of the picture, would still have the company growing and succeeding because that’s just who they are.
Hire beyond the job description
The traditional way of thinking when it comes to solving a problem is to find a solution to fix what’s broken. What we don’t ask ourselves is, “What’s the solution that will keep creating?” So, when my team and I are hiring, we ask ourselves, “What are we missing?” Yes, the business has a need that requires someone to take over a responsibility, but what else would this individual contribute to the company and the team? For example, if my team and I are looking for a developer, we ask ourselves, “What else do we need to add to our team to take us to the next level? Do we need someone with more experience to give us guidance? Is it a fresh face that brings new perspectives and the opportunity for our current team to train and share knowledge? Or, is it a generalist to round out our very specialized team?” Whatever it may be, we look for more than just the “required” bullet points for that specific role. We ask candidates what they can offer that we haven’t even considered. This also shows what they want to contribute and if they can operate outside of a checklist of what their responsibilities are!
Hire those who are in it for the highs and lows
It’s easy to sell your company as a “high-growth company” and get applicants who want to be in a “fast-paced, exciting environment,” but the real gold is finding people who are in it for the long rough patches as much they’re in it for all the other added elements of a “fun” company. Let’s face it, growing a business is the type of roller coaster ride that has more downhills than uphills. You fall fast and hard and the trek back up is a slow one. When you make it to the top, you feel on top, with an understanding that you’re still on the ride that’s never going to end. Hire the team that'll help you get through the chaotic times as much as they'll be there to celebrate the wins with you.
Innovation and greatness don’t happen when you hire a designer to design a website. It happens when you hire a designer who goes to your marketing department to learn about the clients you attract, to your engineering department to understand how they work, and to the CEO to understand their vision for the company.
Do a gut check right now—are these the people currently in your company? If not, are you certain the people you have are in it for the highs and lows?