June 26, 2016 | Hiring Tips for Managers

Four Things To Consider When Hiring From an Established Competitor

As an emerging company, it can be tempting to hire someone from a mature, established competitor or to recruit someone with a big title from a big company. However, recruits from mature, slow moving, well-established enterprises often do not survive at faster, more agile, more adaptable emerging technology companies.

Treading Carefully

As a recruiting firm, we consistently observe this failure. It is not that this type of hiring decision always fails, it just fails very often. So tread very carefully when going down this road. If you follow our blog, you may be familiar with our Four P’s of Cultural Fit. In this post, let’s gaze through the lens of the Four P’s, and let’s examine what it looks like to hire someone from a mature company and place them into an emerging technology business.

These are four biggies that you must determine before hiring someone in this situation.

1. Pace

Established companies with mature management infrastructure usually do not move as agile or as fast as emerging companies. Also, in large organizations, significant support functions enable executives to be productive without getting bogged down in the day to day minutia. Conversely, in emerging companies, executives typically do not enjoy the same level of support. They often have to “support” themselves, figuring out how to get the minutia done on their own. When you are hiring from an established competitor or large organization, you must determine if the candidate can move at an urgent pace, with minimal support, and if he/she can install that pace into his/her organization.

2. Process of Decision Making

Established organizations are often task focused. They have a fairly clear roadmap of how they will get from point “A” to point “B,” and they need employees who can maintain the status quo regarding implementation of standardized processes. Emerging companies need people who are outcome focused and people who can innovate and improvise in achieving those outcomes. These team members are not just flying the plane, they are building the plane while they are flying it! If you do hire from an established company, determine if the candidate can build, innovate, and improvise while moving the company forward.

3. Philosophy of Decision Making

Established companies have somewhat of a luxury in being able to hold on to idealism. Emerging companies don’t really have that luxury. They must be pragmatic and adaptable. There’s an old saying that when the map and the landscape disagree, then go with the landscape. Emerging companies need people who can adapt when the map isn’t working—they read the actual landscape of things and continue to forge ahead. These are leaders who make battlefield decisions, learn adeptly, and push forward toward the desired outcomes. An agile company simply must be led by agile people. So again, when hiring from an established company, clearly determine if the candidate can lead their teams in an adaptable, agile, and pragmatic manner.

4. Play

Team bonding—by this we mean team members connecting on a relational level—is more important in emerging teams than in established organizations. Team bonding is the building block for team building. Fast-moving agile teams have a heightened need for trust, respect, and healthy collaboration. When you’re making battlefield decisions, the team has to be firmly rooted in these qualities. On the flip side, established companies can get away with a lack of team bonding—they can afford to create a more “assembly line” approach to business. Therefore, when hiring from an established company you should determine if team bonding and team building are demonstrated core values of the candidate you are considering.

Final Thoughts

Here’s a quick summary. If you are hiring from an established/mature company, look for evidence that your candidate:

  • Can move fast with minimal support and install that pace into their team
  • Improvise and innovate while moving the company forward
  • Is an adaptable, agile and pragmatic decision maker
  • Values the relational aspects of team building

If you would like to go deeper in understanding the 4 Powerful P’s To Help You Build Your Digital Marketing Team, or contact us to discuss your hiring and recruiting challenges.

Posted by Mark Whitman

Mark Whitman is the founder of TeamBuilder Search. Mark’s mission is to help clients recruit the top five percent of digital marketing executives, taking great satisfaction in helping clients out-recruit their competition. In the process of fulfilling his mission, he takes great care to help digital marketing leaders elevate their careers. People say Mark owns a recruiting and staffing company. He says he owns a life improvement company. To learn more about Mark visit our Leadership page.
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