What are the most common mistakes first time entrepreneurs make? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Hiring toxic employees was the biggest mistake I made in my business.
Imagine having to start everything again from scratch because of a single mistake. Seven years into my business, I had to do exactly that, and fired all eleven of my employees. Morale had suffered. Productivity had plunged. I was avoiding going into the office, and I felt like I had no other choice.
Twenty years later, our company,, which includes and other companies, has $250M in revenue, but we could have done it much more quickly if we had avoided this problem from the very beginning.
Now we put an emphasis on hiring people who have the right skills and who truly click with one another -- who work hard together and play even harder. Over the years, we came up with an incredibly effective solution for avoiding toxic employees: The Beer and BBQ test.
Here are two incredibly simple (and delicious) hacks I've developed to ensure that new hires mesh with our awesome company culture.
Hack #1: The Beer Test
As I started to rebuild my team, I realized that the recruiting process should be focused less on ticking off a checklist and more about trusting my gut. Once potential candidates were in the door, I started thinking,
"Do I like this person? Do I find him interesting, and interested? Does she have a passion for something in life?"
From this, I developed what I call, narrowing those questions down to one: "Would I enjoy grabbing a beer with this person?" It's hypothetical (most of the time), but it's incredibly powerful.
If the answer is yes, it's likely the start of a great working relationship. Sure, it's simple, but it cuts right to the chase, and it's been invaluable in helping me put together a team atthat I love working with every day.
Hack #2: The BBQ Test
As helpful as the beer test is, there's one major problem: it only measures my gut sense. It doesn't take into account how a candidate clicks with the rest of the organization, and it took one especially bad hire to make me see this blind spot and its potential consequences.
A few years ago, I hired a new CFO, in the hopes of takingto the next level. Although this executive was highly skilled and incredibly smart, this person just wasn't a people person, and that became a real problem. People in different departments were reluctant to work with this new CFO, and we started losing some strong team members who had become unhappy with the work environment. Despite this executive's awesome pedigree, we had to part ways.
But how did this individual wind up on the team in the first place? Well, to be honest, the executive had passed the beer test with flying colors. The executive also interviewed well and we even bonded when we discovered we had the same favorite movie.
From that oversight, I came up with another critical hiring hack: the BBQ test.
The BBQ test is all about the group dynamic. It's a matter of asking,
"Would this person fit in at a backyard barbecue with my corporate family?"
If you threw the candidate into a group social situation with other employees, would she be able to hold her own, or find someone to connect with? A beer test is singular (do I like this person?), while the BBQ test asks, "Does he or she fit into our community?"
There's no need to actually fire up the grill: simply introducing a candidate to the rest of the team in-office works just fine. But if the candidate doesn't get the stamp of approval from most of the group -- if there's no connection from the start -- chances are this just isn't the right person r the company, no matter what the resume says.
A study shows that having a close buddy at work increases engagement and productivity. A culturally aligned team, with members who get along and genuinely enjoy each other's company, is a more engaged team , and a more productive one. One of the most important questions asked in the, a measurement tool for workplace performance is, "Do you have a best friend at work?" The , a buddy you connect with in and out of the office, is a primary factor in employee engagement.
When employees are engaged, they're more productive: the Workplace Research Foundation says that highly engaged employees areto have above-average productivity.
So the next time you're hiring, look past the candidate's credentials, and also put them through my beer and BBQ tests. These simple hacks have helped me assemble a dream team, and they will help you quickly assess the cultural fit of your candidates.
We spend an. This means that you probably spend more time with your team than you do with your own family. So don't skimp on your culture.
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