The one thing I’m looking for in new hires
When I was just starting to grow my company, I could never have imagined where we’d be today—now with over a hundred and fifty employees spread across the country.
In the early days, it was just my brother and I, and then slowly we added more employees one by one.
When you have such a small team, you have to truly lean on each other and trust each other. You become a family. (Except when you’re playing foosball. There is no familial loyalty in foosball—only the strong survive.)
In those early startup days, I quickly learned that when you’re leading a team or a company, trust is essential. It’s no secret that trust is important to relationships but it became very real to me in the early days of the company.
In my experience, trust increases cohesion. Coworkers who display trust in each other will work together and put forth their best efforts to achieve goals. When there’s mistrust, however… productivity and morale plummet.
This drop in productivity and morale is typically because team members who don’t trust each other tend to zero in on individual differences, making it difficult to visualize any common goals or work together.
What I have found is that there are two types of trust in business: character and competency.
Character involves believing in someone as a person and knowing they operate according to principles and integrity—no matter who is involved and regardless of how they feel about them. You know this person has your back and that they’ll do what’s best for your business.
Trusting in someone’s competency doesn’t mean you necessarily like them or get along well with them. It means that you trust them to be effective in their role and get things done. Do you trust this person to know what they’re doing in their job? Do you believe they have the skill, the wherewithal, and the motivation to get the job done?
When it comes to choosing my leadership team and hiring for my company, I care more about character than competency.
Competence can be gained more readily than character can be changed. What matters to me is being able to trust the people around me to have my back and care about my business as much as I do.
In the past, I’ve parted ways with incredibly competent people because I didn’t have that first kind of trust with them. And I need character trust for my company to be successful.
We hosted a webinar a while back on the topic of building a good company culture. The guest speaker pointed out that even if you’re not intentionally building and nurturing a company culture, your company is developing one every day through the actions of leadership and employees.
As an example, I remember a conversation that I had with a manager in our business about the type of language that we use and how we speak with employees. My comment was, “Once you hear me use those words then feel free to repeat them, however, I promise that you’ll never hear me say them.”
Your company culture is built on those day-to-day conversations and interactions. So you have to be deliberate about it to ensure the culture you’re building is the kind of culture you want. And that starts from the top, by showing your employees that you trust them and they can trust you.
Aside from just wanting to be the sort of leader that my employees can have faith in, being trustworthy is just good business.
Price Waterhouse Cooper’s 2017 CEO report stated that, “in an increasingly transparent world, companies need a clear moral compass. Enduring winners will be leaders who develop a two-way relationship–whether with customers, employees, or society at large–based on reliability and ethical behaviour.”
As we all navigate a post-pandemic world, I believe that prediction to be more true than ever before. With so much uncertainty in many aspects of our lives, our employees need to trust that we’re looking out for them, and we need to be able to trust them to do their part as well.
And according to a Harvard Business Review article on the neuroscience of trust, people at high-trust companies report 74 percent less stress, 106 percent more energy at work, 50 percent higher productivity, 13 percent fewer sick days, 76 percent more engagement, 29 percent more satisfaction with their lives, and 40 percent less burnout.
As a business leader, those are the results I want at my company. That’s why when I bring on new employees or partner with external companies and vendors, I look for people I can trust. Not just in their competence, but in their character. With a team of people whose characters I trust, I know that my company is well-positioned for the future.