Hiring is a hard job for companies with the constant flux, changes and disruptive forces at work. Steve Jobs was a master at recruiting the best talent at Apple and churned out one great product after another during his years at the helm. He had once disclosed that he hired nearly 5,000 employees directly in his lifetime at Apple & Pixar.
Steve drove people mad at times with his demand for perfection, elegance for design and audacity of his vision. But as they it is the end results that count. People who worked with Apple computers innovated and built lovable products that captured the imagination of the world.
Jobs once said, “I consider the most important job of someone like myself as recruiting.” So, here’s a look at some of the great lessons in hiring & recruiting the right team from the wizard himself.
1. Hire A Players
“I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1.”
If you don’t have a passion, commitment and love for what you’re doing, then you will probably do average things that don’t sum up to anything significant. But the top employees are driven by excellence, quality and results. It is surprising how much of a difference it eventually makes.
Steve Jobs reckoned that the odds of what you accomplish could be 50 to 100 times more when you hire the best employees. Hiring top talent creates an environment of excellence and achievement. People who are driven, creative and hard working are more than likely to pick up new skills for the future.
When the times are changing, you want people to rise to the occasion and deliver the goods. Even if they have to stretch themselves. The top employees are not afraid to make the plunge, work their guts out and build the future.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
The jobs of the future require creativity, passion and a proactive attitude. You can’t hire people who are waiting to be told what needs to be done every step of the way. Infact, the future belongs to those who are ready to carve out their way and even lead others.
Employees who are willing to take responsibility and lead initiatives for constant improvement are the need of the hour. You can’t have success tomorrow with yesterday’s approach. Anyone who is part of the team today needs to understand, learn and constantly show the way forward.
Jobs made a point & often remarked, you should never hire someone that knows less about their own job than you do.
3. Handle Pressure
“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”
When the situation is demanding, there is pressure. Pressure is often the acid test of those who can deliver or others who buckle under it. In moments of disruption, chaos and uncertainty, this is the most valuable trait.
The technology industry is fast paced and there is constant pressure to deliver things. The best employees learn to deal with the pressure constructively. They are able to organise their work, deadlines and critical pieces that need to fit together.
When you are working towards building the best products or services in the business, you need people to focus on the future not the past. Employees need to have a go get it attitude, learn to deal with criticism of their work & improve what they do without fail.
Steve Jobs used to often criticize and be harsh on people. Even during the interviews, he often found something like a previous product they had built and criticized it. Most people couldn’t take the criticism and folded up. However, few of them defended their work and took pride in what they did. Those were the ones Steve Jobs wanted to hire.
4. Hiring the Wrong Person
“I hired the wrong guy and he destroyed everything I’d spent ten years working for.”
Steve Jobs persuaded John Sculley, CEO of PepsiCo to join Apple. John Sculley came on Apple’s board and became its third CEO. Steve Jobs and John Sculley had a great relationship for the first few years. But slowly, it all began to fizzle away.
Jobs had a falling out with Sculley and the Apple board, after which he resigned from Apple. Steve Jobs describes hiring Sculley as one of his worst decisions. It led to the downfall of Apple and Jobs had to leave. In his candid confession, Steve Jobs said, “I hired the wrong guy and he destroyed everything I’d spent the last 10 years working for.”
Someone who doesn’t understand the vision, culture or is not passionate about work is often the wrong choice. It is better to wait than to hire the wrong people who can dilute the culture. Employees who lack integrity, indulge in politics and shirk their work can have a disastrous impact on your company culture. It is better to avoid hiring them & do away with them, if you’ve already hired them.
5. Elegant Solutions
“The really great person will keep on going and find the key, underlying principle of the problem, and come up with a beautiful elegant solution that works.”
Anyone can complain and point fingers at others. That is the easy part, but someone who can grind it out, understand the root cause level of how things work to design and build solutions is rare. You need such people on your team. It is those who make progressive efforts.
People who built the Mac computer often worked for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. They did it for months and years, before they could eventually build the Macintosh Computer. And the world was never the same, once this great product was released.
It takes great commitment and efforts to build world changing things. Employees who are innately driven, willing to grind gruelling hours and absolutely love their work are the ones who build truly great products. And they are often the ones who put a dent in the universe.