How to Hire A Players and Set Up Successful Company Culture

The term Culture is thrown around a lot in the business world. It’s often used to refer to some of the beliefs or used as marketing lingo to make the company sound better than it really is.

But, to me… Culture is really based on the core company values and the people that own those values.

If you were removed from the company, would those people still operate in a similar way?

Because at the end of the day, any business is simply a group of excellent people, driven by a similar goal, with similar values.

They don’t have to be exactly the same, but your culture is a reflection of them.

And one of those, must be the understanding of “A Players.”

This has a few parts to it. One of them being that most often we are not always the “best” at a lot of things. Being an A player is understanding how and where we can excel and letting other excellent people to excel in their areas.

It’s understanding that you need greatness around you to be great. Where a B or C player, will be under-skilled AND also think they are great at too many things, afraid to let up control, afraid to let someone else excel (for fear of losing their position) an A Player would joyously look at how they can fit their unique skill set in to exceed expectations and move the company forward.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the individual. It’s about the company.

The success of the whole is determined by everyone and that can be brought down by it’s weakest link. One of the reasons why systems and operations can be so crucial to your company… It can withstand the pressure of some areas to help you and your company run at full steam.

So how do you find and hire A Players?

Well I think it starts first and foremost at the epicenter of your company. Where a mission statement may be just thrown around lightly with the goals and broad generalizations of the expectations of a company, a Strategic Identity Document can define and truly determine what your company is in it’s CORE.

Before you can attract greatness, you need to define what the company greatness truly is.

Who are you? What are your values internally that are reflected not in WORDS, but in your actions. Are you going to actually DO those values everyday (if you’re the leader you better lead by example).

What is the strategic driven mission in the next few months. What is the strategic driven mission in the next few years. Is there a big audacious vision for where you are taking the company?

Organize and internalize.

This is your most powerful selling asset, yet.

If you want to create a great company you better be ready to sell the vision to great people. To job applicants, team members, prospects, advisors, board members, investors, you name it…

You’ll need to get everyone excited and on the same page.

Do this part correct and you’ve made a HUGE step forward to creating a place where A Players can thrive.

They can buy into a mission, dig in for the long-haul, and be prepared for what’s ahead of them.

Doing something challenging/exciting? A goal that seems pretty ridiculous?

You’ll often find the best people are driven by these challenges and driven to push themselves to do great things. Amazing things happen here.

Books to read on this topic:
Winning the War for Talent

The Prospecting Phase: Finding Gems

How to Hire A Players

Where do you find great talent? That’s a great question and I don’t think there’s an easy answer. A lot of great people are often already snatched up.

In the early days, it might take some real patience to find the RIGHT person.

Recruiting and poaching are often extremely tough to do from other companies when you are only selling a dream (this gets much easier once the product and product market fit with sales start to come together).

Be prepared to sell yourself, your vision, the values etc…

Where can you search? Some of my favorite places:
– Linkedin Recruiter (We are a remote company so this has been great resource)
– Facebook Groups
– Facebook ads
– Network

Luckily you’ll find great people all over and all this takes is hustle and the vision to sell it.

But, here’s where you CAN’T drop the ball… the hiring steps and on-boarding process.

How to Hire A Players in 5 Steps

Ok, so a quick internal shoutout to myself (lame) to check out the blog where I have so many posts on internal operations and business building items you can gorge on.

One of them is the actual hiring steps I use to run people through (read it all here).

But typically, most interviews involve a key 5 step process.

Step 1 – Create the Job Post (think of this as a SALES PAGE!)

Your goal here is to create a sexy way to sell the job, the position, the company, the day to day, and attract interest (with your title) and sell the opportunity even before getting on a call.

I’ve often heard things like “This job sounds like the perfect fit” or “I just had to apply this sounds great.”

Don’t don’t don’t do the cookie cutter approach to a job post… please, for the love of god. You’re just asking for a “B Player.”

Your values reflect excellence? Ok, then show it and take the time to be creative here.

Step 2 – Create a “Filtering Device”

This is critical to weed out the wheat from the chaff. Put in a few questions, instructions, or keywords that people need to follow when applying. This will INSTANTLY show you who is actually reading your job post and following along rather than those who are just spamming out job posts.

Anyone who is spamming out job posts is 100% not a good fit for your company. They don’t have any unique desire in YOUR company, they just want ANY company.

If you are reaching OUT to people, ask them to read through the post and ask questions or apply.

Communication, comprehension, and desire is one of the items you are looking for right now.

Anyone who doesn’t hit these initial benchmarks should be deprioritized if not excluded completely from hiring.

Step 3 – Set up interview #1

This is the first time you’ll be chatting with the person and I typically ask for a Skype or Video call. I want to feel out the prospect in terms of energy, excitement, fit, learn about their background, and why they are even interested in the position.

Their desires are important especially if an initial team member as they better have the drive to be a part of something big and be passionate about what they do.

Typical things should be asked, like strengths, weaknesses, what they would love to be doing in 5 years, the perfect position, why they are applying, etc…

Get to know them and of course ask the specific questions about the position (background, examples of projects, how they handle specific items).

End with an overview of the company and now is your time to re-sell them on WHAT is unique about this opportunity. Let them ask questions and get more info (save all the big details for later in interview #3)

Step 4 – If all went well, move to Interview #2

In this interview, you’ll want to do more of a “TECHNICAL” interview which doesn’t always mean development, but something more in depth on the actual position itself.

If it’s marketing, let’s dig into case studies, if development talk about the stack or examples of HOW they would do things.

If you can bring on people to the interview if this is not your area of strength. Often you can bring on one or two people.

One strategy is even to hire a consultant to help organize questions or areas to focus on in this arena if you are unknown or bring on advisers who can help here.

I bring on members of our team to also get a feel/fit for their answers and how they respond.

End with a time sensitive test.

This is a good way to get a real time judgement of their skill and knowledge.

Either assemble yourself, have someone on your team, or your advisers/consultants help you organize a small test that can be used to judge competency and skill.

Always add a timeline to it to make sure it doesn’t get lost.

If you get feedback on the test (I don’t work for free, this is too hard, or they break deadlines) you’ll see that they may not be the right fit.

Typical candidates who are excited about this position are typically excited about taking and showing off on the test.

If the test is approved and you pass them, set up interview #3.

Step 5 – Interview #3 – The Culture fit

Think of this whole process as a marketing funnel… you want to start with a lot of applicants at the top and end with a few key candidates at the end (at the top of your funnel).

After your first interview, make sure you are taking note of the desires/goals of your applicants. This is the time to understand if there is a true synergistic fit between you and the team member.

Remember, you are looking for A Players and they want / need to be in an environment to thrive, as much as you need them to help you build the dream.

Listen to them, and learn from what their ideas/vision is for greatness, for companies, for their own lives. When have they felt undervalued? Under appreciated or unhappy?

How can you light a fire in them and help them to achieve their own greatness. Where are their weak points and what systems would need to be in place to hold them up properly.

Re-explain the culture of your company, review your SID (Strategic identity document) with them line by line and get their feedback, and go over what a day to day could be like.

If you already have systems, explain a bit about how things can be lifted or your values that could help them succeed.

We are aiming to simply make sure it FEELS like a fit all around. This interview is a lot around intuitiveness and making sure that values align.

Aligned Value + Highly Skilled + Desire for Greatness = A Player

By this point, you’ll need time to see who is the best fit. You can organize a Checklist of values and weigh them accordingly, but the truth is that the best fit will be pretty easy to “Feel.”

Bringing them on Board

Offically Hiring A Players

This is where a lot of people often fall down… and I don’t want you to do it too.

Onboarding sounds pretty boring but these simple steps can make a huge difference.

During the hiring process, it’s much like a sales process… there can be huge amounts of excitement or a dreading feeling of “buyers remorse.”

Take the time to send out Company documents for your Strategic Identity Documents, Company Operations, and Day to Day roles (daily operating guide).

Send contracts, welcome emails, videos of your team or yourself, and really make this time exciting!

Know that they won’t be instantly in tune with everything, so be patience, but excitable and give them energy. They will feed off this and will help to start melding in the culture early.

And so it goes on.

But, this is how you can strategically build an amazing culture. Build an amazing team!

Is there any advice you can take from here that you can implement in your business today?

Are you hiring A Players?

Let me know in the comments and happy to help!


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