One of the most important tasks of any startup is hiring. Startups succeed not just because of an idea or a product but through culture and execution. People build a culture and it is within the framework of that culture that they execute the daily tasks of a business. At a startup, each person must do the work of five normal employees and so if you make the wrong hire your mistake is truly amplified.
The reason this is so hard is that people are so… human. We are all very complex beings and those complexities and differences are magnified when working in a fast-paced, challenging environment. You never truly know how someone is going to react to adversity. And startups live in a perpetual state of adversity. It makes hiring a challenge. In fact, when we surveyed our portfolio companies late last year, one of their number one challenges was “Finding talent.”
This difficulty is one of the reasons analytics now plays such a large role in the recruitment process. Employers are looking for any edge to help them make the right decision. More information always helps. But sometimes, too much information can be paralyzing.
Enter rising NBA superstar Luka Doncic. As an 18-year-old, Doncic was named MVP of the EuroLeague, the second-best professional basketball league in the world, and led his team, Real Madrid, to the championship. It was obvious to even the most casual fan that he was a superstar player and generational talent.
But, during the NBA draft, teams went out of their way to find flaws or debate whether he was the right fit for their system or whatever we all do when we overcomplicate something.
Doncic ended up being the third pick and the team that drafted him traded him to another team. Not surprisingly, now in his second season, Doncic is one of the best players in the entire league and a fan favorite, while the two players picked before him are mediocre at best.
This happens all the time: the evidence said he was good but we convince ourselves of something else.
When you do your hiring, do your research, look at the evidence and then, in the end, trust your gut. When you know, you know. And, hopefully, that person will revolutionize your industry, just like Luka.