I never hire people the typical way. My team and our People Operations department hate when I go rogue, but sometimes it’s necessary. I’m not always keen on policies and standard operating procedures when hiring. I’ve learned over time — especially throughout 2020 — that there are good reasons why policies exist and SOPs are implemented. But when you know someone’s right, you’ve just got to get them in the organization.
People always ask me, “What do you look for when you're hiring?” My response is always the same. There is no when. I’m always looking.
If I come across someone who seems like they’ve just got that special something, I just have to pull them into the Spartan mission, regardless of whether I already have a position in mind for them. These are the few commonalities I look for in an employee and teammate.
1. A Sense of Enthusiasm
Skills have always been less important to me than enthusiasm. You can train skills, but you can’t train enthusiasm. So, if a candidate applying for a position went to some top-notch college, is riddled with certifications, and has the recommendations to boot, BUT their energy doesn't match — no thank you. I want someone who’s always excited, someone who exudes enthusiasm and is eager to lean in at any and all turns.
There has to be enthusiasm across the board. It’s easy to be enthusiastic about the things that you’re good at, or that interest you. But I want an employee that’s going to be enthusiastic about ALL things — their duties, responsibilities, AND tasks that extend beyond their job description.
2. Problem-Solving Skills
What is my nails on a chalkboard? Complaining. Pointing out why we can’t. S*** gets hard sometimes, and it doesn’t always go the way we want it. That’s life. But I can’t stand it when people want to spend 20, 10, or even five minutes complaining, when we could be using that time to create solutions.
My favorite type of teammate is the one who is going to take a bad situation and turn it into a beacon of light for what we can do next. You know who always stands out in a meeting? The one who offers a solution for why we can when everyone else thinks we can’t.
This goes beyond, "On time is late and early is on time." Reliability means that you’re going to get the s*** done that you said you would.
I’m not interested in perfection, but I am interested in production. I know that sometimes people get stuck in wanting something to be exactly the way they want it, so they struggle to meet a deadline. But I care more about whether you met your commitment and less about the content. I need to see that you’re interested in producing, taking that first or second step, and just continually moving forward.
If you want to read a 100-year-old book on hard work, integrity, and dependability, read A Message to Garcia.
4. Being a Team Player
When I’m considering a new hire at Spartan, I’m always thinking about whether they’re going to be a team player. Will they step in to support when a team or department needs help? Will they offer to help before being told to do so? And will they set aside their own ego to embrace the team mentality? Spartan is a team, no matter what. When 2020 hit and we were forced to furlough many of our employees, the entire company felt it. It hurt, but it showed me how important the camaraderie component was.
I’ve never been big on hiring one specific type of person. There are so many different character types and personalities on the Spartan team. Some gel perfectly, and others have to work harder at it. But undoubtedly, each and every one of our employees has the aforementioned characteristics. And we are who we are because of it.