Marc Andreesen is on fire with his new blog. Today, he has a great post on hiring good people. I want to highlight two things he talks about because in my experience they are mandatory requirements for a good employee — new hire or existing. Of course there’s more to it than just these two criteria, but these are absolutely essential and at the core of the person.
Marc writes that employees who are driven are:
people who will walk right through brick walls, on their own power, without having to be asked, to achieve whatever goal is in front of them. People with drive push and push and push and push and push until they succeed …
I look for something you’ve done, either in a job or (often better yet) outside of a job. The business you started and ran in high school. The nonprofit you started and ran in college. If you’re a programmer: the open source project to which you’ve made major contributions.
If you can’t find anything — if a candidate has just followed the rules their whole lives, showed up for the right classes and the right tests and the right career opportunities without achieving something distinct and notable, relative to their starting point — then they probably aren’t driven.
And you’re not going to change them. Motivating people who are fundamentally unmotivated is not easy. But motivating people who are self-motivated is wind at your back.
I agree in particular with looking at the things that people have done that they aren’t required to do. Starting a business or non-profit. Working with others on a non-work project. These are things that are very positive indicators of drive.
I’m a very driven person myself and hate having to try to motivate the unmotivated. I want to push people to go further, not simply to move.
This one is simple. In Marc’s words: “do you love what you do?”
Anyone who loves what they do is inherently intensely curious about their field, their profession, their craft. They read about it, study it, talk to other people about it… immerse themselves in it, continuously. And work like hell to stay current in it.
Not because they have to. But because they love to. Anyone who isn’t curious doesn’t love what they do.
I want employees who know the industry trends and keep up with them because they enjoy it. I want to see people who find out how to push the envelope because it is exciting. I want team members who are passionate about the company and its goals and understand the industry trends that impact it.
And if you are a programmer or marketer or whatever, is isn’t simply about the skills in your particular specialty that you should be curious about. If you work for Flickr or Zoomr, you should be curious about photography. If you work for YouTube or Revver, you should be curious about video. If you work for TypePad or FeedBurner, you should be curious about blogs. If you work for Topix or CustomScoop, you should be curious about news aggregation. If you work at PodTech or PodShow, you should be curious about new media creation.
There’s obviously more to it, and I encourage you to read Marc’s post if you’re an employer or an employee. There’s lots of great advice in there, including some tips on process that I plan to implement going forward. Looking back at some of my bad or poor hires in the past, if I had focused like a laser beam on the qualities I was looking for and used a better process, I probably could have avoided some (but not all) of my mistakes. And Marc does point out that even the best processes generate bad hires and you should just face up to it and deal with it directly when you do.