Support Leadership: How to Hire?

At my company, we believe smart people thrive on freedom.

Many companies have lots of great tangible perks, from snacks, equity for full timers, etc. These are all terrific, though we must also ask how much the culture motivates teammates to excel? Is there a connection between this and the ability to scale the company and team?

It’s a team of people. Together we can accomplish what feels like endless adventures and colossal monuments. That’s why everyone needs to be of the same caliber and on the same page: A-Players. We will rise or fall together. You can’t have a mix of great, decent, and mediocre players — all the great employees will leave. Hiring is crucial. Hiring the right people is such an art, and while it’s so very taxing, it’s amazingly rewarding.

I look for a number of different attributes when hiring. It is contingent upon the exact role, though here are four core needs I have in every person I could ever consider working for me or a teammate: 1) Coachability, 2) Communication, 3) Curiosity, and 4) Empathy. Related, one massive responsibility I wield is that I am likely hiring people who will eventually work for a teammate: I want to serve my teammates well give them the best team I possibly can.

I desperately need them to be coachable. If they are not or are weak in it, that’s a disqualifier. Sure, they may be able to do the current job really well, but when it comes time for feedback, working in a team, or growing them to be leaders, this is non-negotiable. They need to be humble enough to listen and learn: armed with enough humility we can learn from anybody.

Your employees need to be communicative. That’s only further stressed in a Support environment where it is the centerpiece. Digging further down, they need to communicate internally and externally; written, in person, and over the phone (especially since over the phone is different than in person); listen and diagnose; and, to be honest, be a bit of a problem-solver to hear what the other person is thinking and analytically think through that.

How curious are you to learn? Curiosity is a key differentiator between someone who’s willing to fast fail, pick up quickly, constantly engage himself or herself at a higher level, and always pursue the next higher thing. Don’t we all want employees who we can share duties, knowing they can take it on and we have nothing to worry about? There’s a natural curiosity in the customer’s world…if your staff can truly listen to and ask questions about the customer’s lives, how amazing is that support? How better equipped is your staff to handle the current issues and the ones that you don’t yet even know about?

Empathy. They need to hear the other person. They need to know where they come from and how their day is going. They’re willing to listen and put their own thoughts and needs aside for a moment to listen to and understand the other side. They need…to seek first to understand, then be understood.

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