Perfection is the Enemy of the Good: Hiring

We have four core values at Silvertrek:

  • The desire and ability to learn
  • The ability to do something without waiting for it to be perfect
  • The desire to take ownership in what you do
  • The ability to be upbeat and positive, even in the face of adversity

We hold ourselves accountable to these core values, and we rank each other on our progression or regression in these things. But we also look for them in the people we hire. We recently hired Owen Granger, and the conversation prior to his getting hired was much more about our perception of these items than it was about his knowledge, schooling, or experience.

In a perfect hiring situation, you first weed out the people that don’t fit your core values, and then you begin to look at their abilities. Say you’re a small manufacturing company, hiring to replace the procurement manager that’s retiring after lo these many years. Somebody in this position needs to understand the domain (electronics, engines, brake pads, whatever you’re making), they need to understand the importance of purchase agreements and their relationship of cash flow, they need to understand the rules surrounding the accounting and taxing of inventory, and they need to understand whatever obscure and/or obsolete MRP system you’re using (95% of the time this is Excel). However, most people seeking employment have relatively plastic brains, and most people can learn those things. Whats harder to “learn” is the drive you’re looking for, the work ethic you’re looking for, the intelligence you’re looking for, the attitude you’re looking for. It’s harder to teach a new hire to be less sarcastic then it is to teach them to lower inventory right before fiscal year end. It’s harder to teach a new hire how to go about exploring all the options for a new robotic inventory system then it is to teach them to fill down on tab x84 of the spreadsheet named “Parts-version 4(joe).xlsx” It’s harder to teach somebody the nuanced difference between argument and debate than it is to teach them how to fill in a timecard.

Obviously, you need to know what your core values are. Also obviously, you have core values. It would actually be downright astonishing if you could articulate them–Silvertrek’s core values were years in the making, and only emerged after serious effort.

You don’t need the perfect employee, in terms of job ability. You need an employee that fits your core values, and is good enough at the job put in front of them. Don’t ruin your team by hiring a perfect ass.