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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Remember the square and round pegs must match the correct holes

Match the people to the correct task!

The matching of shapes seems like a simple concept.  Fitting pieces into a puzzle requires matching shapes if you want to see the final picture.  Putting Legos together to make a recognizable form requires a bit of skill and vision of what the final product should look like.  Building a home or office building requires planning the assembly of the pieces to achieve the final stable and attractive form.  The matching of pieces of something is critical to building everything.  This includes building a startup.

Entrepreneurs spend time studying to prepare the business plan and slide show.  They obtain the IP rights required to own the technology.  They carefully select advisors and mentors.  The assembly of the business structure and form is like putting a puzzle together.  Matching square pegs to square holes and round pegs to round holes.

Once the business is ready, the entrepreneur starts to recruit top employees to create a team.  Some entrepreneurs have prior experience recruiting and managing personnel, while others have NONE.  Recruiting and managing personnel is more than picking the best and brightest.  The matching of skills and personalities is just as critical to proper team construction.  Place the wrong people in the wrong spots and they will be unhappy, perform poorly, or be disruptive.  Hire poorly and you can end up with a very dysfunctional team: read “Supervising Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.”

Some of the best people may be terrible fits for your startup.  They have the skills but are unable to adapt to the environment.  The personalities may mismatch with the team.  Your lack the ability to place them in the correct job or your management style is bad for that employee.  The meshing of people to the correct positions and ensuring a highly functional team takes practice and tuning.  Hiring them and assigning a role followed by lack of monitoring can lead to disaster.

A recruiter once stated that a question asked during the hiring process is, “What do you need to do your job?  Running a lean startup is different from working in a Big Company.  A tentative employee that provides a laundry list may need that level of support.  An employee that says a checkbook and a rolodex might be a better fit.  Hiring a project manager is important in some companies.  Project managers keep projects moving properly and meet the milestones on time.  Hiring an imaginative, inventive, idea person for this position may be a horrible fit because they require a more creative role. Tasking them with a job requiring a high level of focus on detail and timing will be boring and constrain them.

Keep in mind that building a business does require fitting the pieces together and placing them appropriately.  This includes the PEOPLE!  The team should be highly functional and mesh well.  They need to work and play well with each other.  This requires a great fit for all to ensure they are happy and productive.