It’s no great observation to say that when people are emotionally invested in what they do, they always work much harder at it. This aspect of human nature is fairly common knowledge and one that plenty of businesses have tried to exploit over the years. Not exploit necessarily in a bad way, mind you. It’s just that if you have passionate, dedicated employees, then it tends to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
It’s difficult, however, to put together a team that loves your dream and pursues it as with as much fervor as you do. No, strike that. It’s almost impossible. Yet, that doesn’t mean you have to drag a bunch of unwilling clock-punchers along with you while you struggle forward either. In fact, here’s a good tip for entrepreneurs: If you find yourself burdened with that, then you’re just never going to make it.
So how do you build a team that shares your hunger and has great enthusiasm about your brand? According to Steve Jobs, a good place to start is to find people who are passionate in the first place. Once you’ve done that, give them a vision of your company and specifically how it is going to make a difference. Not save the world mind you, but make a difference. How are you going to revolutionise your industry? How will your business change the way people think about or do XYZ?
The Mac Test
Apple, particularly during Jobs’ time, had a workforce that was renowned for being fanatical about the company’s brand. In an interview one time, Jobs was quoted as saying, “I consider the most important job of someone like myself is recruiting.” He went on to also state that he wasn’t necessarily looking for the seasoned professional. Instead, he wanted people who were “insanely good” at what they did and “had a passion for where technology was and what we could do with it.”
Early members of the Apple management team elaborated on the process. They spoke about how the job interviews would routinely encompass an entire day. The prospective employee would speak to everyone in the office, sometimes more than once. Andy Hertzfeld, who was part of the original Mac development team, stated, “The most critical part of the interview was when we finally decided to show them the Macintosh prototype … if they were just kind of bored, or said this is a nice computer, we didn’t want them! We wanted their eyes to light up and them to get really excited, and then we knew they were one of us.”
Another designer on the original Macintosh team, Rony Sebok, summed up the kind of team that Jobs was able to build using this philosophy. “Everybody just wanted to work,” she said. “Not because it was work that had to be done, but because it was something that we really believed in and that was really going to make a difference. And that’s what kept the whole thing going.”
Apple went on to have some decent success. So, you have to ask yourself, are you taking the time to identify the right people? Daylong interviews to really find out how dedicated and interested a prospective hire is? Secondly, are you giving them what I call the “Mac test”? Are you showing them what you’re all about and seeing if their eyes light up? Do they have that passion and enthusiasm already? If they don’t, good luck with ever trying to talk them into it.
Are you looking for a bass player, or Paul McCartney?
I was struck yesterday when a particular video popped into my YouTube recommendations. I was researching advice for entrepreneurs and an interview with John Lennon appeared. I was intrigued. What tips for entrepreneurs could Lennon have? What he was saying in the interview was that before Paul McCartney joined the Beatles, he (Lennon) had been the undisputed leader of the band. However, Lennon recognized that the group needed McCartney’s musicianship, even though it meant that Lennon was going to have to share the spotlight some with his new bass player.
I thought about this. I wondered if the Beatles would have ever become The Beatles if John Lennon hadn’t made that decision. Lennon was not shortsighted though. He had not just hired a bass player, he had found someone who loved the same music, shared the same vision, possessed the same work ethic and had the same drive that he did. In other words, he had identified someone who already loved his brand. And he saw that together they could achieve so much more—if, that is, he didn’t stifle McCartney so that he could continue hogging all the glory.
I considered how this augmented Jobs’ hiring philosophy and building a team that loves your brand. Yes, hire people with passion, but also make sure you’re not stifling that passion because you want all the limelight. When you find talent, let it take you to new heights!
The last point I want to make is that, if you want a team that is in love with your brand, you’re going to have to create a positive atmosphere in the workplace. Anyone’s commitment and dedication can be tested if they walk into a situation every day that feels hostile.
Elon Musk of Tesla literally has a “No A**holes” hiring policy, which I think is a good one. A difficult person may get tasks done, but is also like a leech sucking the productivity out of your business and causing your better employees wonder if your competitor is hiring.
Sorry, but the jerks are going to have to go. Forget loving your brand, they’re never going to love anything but their own best interests. Of course, it is important not to confuse passion with a destructive, negative jerk, but as a manager you should be keen on making sure you understand the distinction between the two.
Just let me add in conclusion here, I will state bluntly that I know of no way to make people who have no passion magically fall in love with your company. So, if you figure this one out, please drop me a line and you can give me an entrepreneur tip!