Hiring for startups isn’t just about finding people who can complete generic, repetitive job tasks. Entrepreneurs must make sure these new team members are ready to dive into practically anything, and then stay in it for the long haul to help the company realize its vision.
But once the business is past the early stages, it’s time to delegate systems to managers. Hopefully, you’ve already hired some — they just don’t know they’re the ones to step up to the management plate.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to learn how to spot top management material on your payroll:
“What one tip do you have for identifying potential managerial talent from within your current employee ranks?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Look for Zeal
“As the founder of an ed tech company, I’m pretty confident that I can teach people most things, but I know for sure that I can’t teach passion. When you spot someone in the ranks who shows true excitement and enthusiasm for your mission and product, nurture them and encourage that zeal — you’d be surprised at the results. It’s not a specific skill set, just someone who believes in the mission.” ~ Jessica Brondo, Admitted.ly
2. Test Them Out
“If you need to identify whether an employee has potential for management, give him a chance to prove it. Assign a challenging and meaningful project he must complete with the help of other team members. Give him the role of team leader, and evaluate how well he performs in that role. Allow some time to go by, then grade him on skills like delegation, follow-through and communication. ” ~ Robert Sofia, Platinum Advisor Strategies
3. Identify Dedication
“I identify potential managers by seeing how they work and what that produces. Along with that, I find the people who lead by example. You want managers whose work goes above and beyond. They will inspire other employees to do the same as they work with those managers and see the example they set. If you find those people in your company and reward that spirit, you’ll create a really good work force!” ~ Kyle Clayton, Jackrabbit Janitorial
4. Recognize Accountability
“There’s no real way to tell who would be a great manager. But the one thing to look for is accountability. Who raises his hand when a crisis emerges? Who takes the heat when things go wrong? Who sticks up for his or her co-workers when a mistake is made? One of the most important assets of a manager is grace under fire, so if someone already has that attribute, that’s someone to keep an eye on.” ~ Jay Wu, Best Drug Rehabilitation
5. Look for a Natural Teacher
“When team members are naturally supporting and teaching others, that’s a great sign of managerial talent. It tells me that they know what needs to be done, are seeing others who struggle and are proactively helping them with education and training without being asked. Combine that with an employee who can hold others accountable to tasks and standards, and you have a great manager.” ~ Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
6. Look for People Who Take Action
“I look for people who take action. Specifically, I look for people who have told me what they’ve done instead of what to do. There are so many moving parts in a company. You need people who are not just self-starters, but people who take responsibility to try things (regardless of whether they succeed or not) and then tell you about that success or failure.” ~ Liam Martin, Staff.com
7. Look for Good Listeners
“In a startup, we’re often so focused on getting things done that we’re talking over each other, going with whichever idea is the loudest or the person who talks the most. Instead, look for employees who both listen and contribute. A good listener is a sign of a good decision-maker — they consider multiple points of view and really pay attention. They don’t always have to be heard.” ~ Susan Strayer LaMotte, exaqueo
8. Ask for Their “Why”
“I’m a co-founder of an executive search firm. We begin evaluating leadership talent by asking one simple question: “What’s your why?” Your “why” is your purpose for working. If that leader’s purpose aligns with the organization’s mission, we know that we can move on to the next phases of our evaluation process. Why? Because the people who excel in organizations are motivated by their missions.” ~ Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
9. Look for People Who Confront Problems
“I like to see people who lead by example, work hard, can see the bigger picture and can have the difficult conversations. In my experience, the latter is a critical and often overlooked attribute. I believe it was Ben Horowitz who said that he could judge the caliber of a CEO on his willingness to have the toughest conversations right away. Managers need to confront them head-on, not wait.” ~ Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors
10. Make Sure They Know Their Limits
“In addition to outstanding performance, look for people who have the ability to say “no” when they are overwhelmed or feel that they won’t be able to do a good job. Managers are often overextended, and it’s important to be able to focus on the areas where they can make the most impact. ” ~ Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
11. Find Those Who Go the Extra Mile
“Staying after hours to knock out a project, the ability to handle stress (or mask it), communication style, loyalty and attitude are all important. People who go the extra mile as part of their personality (when nobody is watching) are great people to promote from within. It’s easy to tell who genuinely cares about the success of a company versus those who are only there to collect a paycheck.” ~ Ziver Birg, ZIVELO
12. Look for Initiative and Execution
“Look for the people who not only have new ideas, but who have the ability to make them move forward.” ~ Jeff Berger, Doostang and Universum Group
Spotting Photo via Shutterstock
Incredibly helpful information. It is amazing what some people overlook every day when it comes to their employees.
Thank you for the post.
Great article! Would like permission to reprint in our industry newsletter. Hope to hear from you.
It does take time to spot potential managers in your business.
I am all for looking for passion. It’s true. You cannot teach that. It is either it exists or not. You cannot do anything if the person don’t care about what they are doing. You don’t want anyone who doesn’t love their work to manage their coworkers. You need someone who goes beyond what he is doing just to get things done.