Zach Wise talks about hiring

Have you ever worked with someone who is tremendously talented and competent, but is also a total pain to work with?

You know what I mean - a person who’s really good at their job and you know they’re worth the money you pay them. But they’re also a compulsive liar, or they’re arrogant, or they can’t show up on time. We’ve all experienced it at some point, and it’s frustrating when a really good performer is hard to be around. Sometimes we even justify keeping a person like this around because of how good they are, even when we know it’s hurting our team.

Today we’re going to talk about how to build a team of people who are high performers and are great team members.

Step 3 - Define your “Permission to Play” values

The best way to get the right people on your team and keep the wrong ones off is to decide on your “permission to play” values up front.

Permission to play values are the non-negotiable qualities and traits you’re looking for in every person who is a part of your team. Now I can’t write your list for you, but I can give you my list. Feel free to steal mine or use them as a starting point and make it your own.

What you’re doing with this list is defining your list of bare minimums. What things do you hold as core values? The kicker - you must embody these yourself and hold your team accountable to them. They are literally permission to play. If someone does not embody these values or strive for them, they do not have permission to play on the team.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these things should be obvious or go without saying. Actually write them down. Be explicit.

What to do with your permission to play values

Now that you’ve defined your values you’ll use them as filters in your hiring process and in leadership of your existing team.

In interviews you want to help interviewees understand your permission to play values right up front. Make it clear that these qualities are a key part of your culture and that people who don’t strive for these values don’t get to work here. “This is who we are.” You’ll repeat these values again when you onboard a new hire. And you’ll coach toward these values throughout their entire time on your team.

Note: this is outside the scope of hiring, but if you have an existing team, you’ll need to explain that you’ve realized you had a set of expectations you hadn’t articulated. Declare your expectations and then invite them to come to you directly with questions or concerns. And then you’ll actually have to be willing to enforce these values for the sake of the team you’re building, even if that means letting a high performer go.

How this will make you money

Hiring and bringing new people on board is expensive and time-consuming.

You’ve got to make sure that you’re keeping the bad apples out. You will save money by preventing wasted time and effort. You also make more money by getting the right people on board early. The best employees not only make you more money than they cost you, but they also function as multipliers for the rest of your team.

Don’t skip this step! Define your permission to play values!

Your next steps

Here are your action items for this issue:

  1. define your permission to play values
  2. share them with your team

Next time we’ll cover the final preparation step before actually beginning the hiring process - writing a clear job description.

To thriving,