I had the pleasure of talking with a serial entrepreneur friend of mine recently. He has had a couple of successful exits, and is dreaming up his next project. During our meeting, he asked me if it’s okay to hire developers who may not share the spiritual mission-focus of his next big project.
My answer was an emphatic NO.
I understand completely why many founders are tempted to do this. Hiring for talent regardless of vision-alignment is a natural trap to fall into. It happens because the vision of the company is abstract and intangible, and whether or not someone can build an app is very concrete.
There’s an idea out there that only certain people at the company- usually the C-Level leaders- need to be visionary, and others just need to be told what to do.
That is, after all, what most companies do. But guess what – most companies don’t achieve stratospheric, mind-blowing success! In fact, many companies don't come anywhere near stratospheric, mind blowing success... instead they fall into permanent mediocrity with disengaged employees who are either actively sabotaging the company or are monotonously passing their time before the next opportunity comes along (…or until retirement!)
Here’s what I want to share with every client, founder, entrepreneur or business owner I come into contact with: the WHY of your company is a POWERFUL TOOL that can propel it forward if you are clear on what it is, and commit to it whole heartedly. Not only can the WHY attract clients and customers, it can also energize and motivate the people on your team to bring forward their best ideas, to push a little harder and question/disrupt broken and outdated systems that are holding you back.
But it doesn’t happen with 40% commitment.
Leadership has to do more than pay lip service to the bigger picture in order to give the WHY power to propel the company forward. If folks who are talented but unconvinced of the vision are allowed to stay, what ensues is what I call “subtle sabotage.” They may not mean to, but team members who aren’t bought into the vision will introduce doubt, which will decrease energy and introduce unnecessary friction and resentment. Slowly more and more employees will disengage and before you know it: even the leadership is losing sight of the vision.
This is a sad, sad thing! It doesn’t have to be this way.
Culture shift is completely possible, but it takes a commitment to get clear on WHY your company is on this Earth, and then a commitment to hire/fire accordingly. Firing someone is no small thing – it is painful for the company, the team and the person getting fired. It’s a last resort without a doubt, but if a teammate cannot align behind the bigger picture, there’s no other choice if your company has meaningful growth aspirations.
So if my friend took nothing else from our conversation, my hope is that he will start his next venture with total clarity on the bigger picture, and that each team member he hires - regardless of job title - will be totally aligned behind that vision.
Looking to shift the culture in your office? There's no reason to do it alone - you don't have to! Let's talk! If I'm not the one who can help, I'll gladly connect you with someone who can.