12 Things to Hire For: Execs

Think & Grow Co-Founder, Jonathan Jeffries, shares his thoughts on successfully hiring executives.
Jonathan Jeffries
January 26, 2021

Hiring executives for the first time is a genuine struggle for founders. The expensive paychecks and the thought of sharing some of the responsibility and leadership with others makes some reluctant to take the plunge. But, this is the reality: Everyone and everything is dependent on you. And you’re only human, with only so much time and energy to give. This is what can happen without support: 

  • Communication and processes break down and become messy 
  • New roles get congested, perfect candidates slip through your fingers 
  • Marketing activities and product development is put on-hold 

Ultimately, it all comes to a stagnant pause. And let’s not forget the mental health consequences. You won’t have the time or headspace to be the creative, entrepreneurial thinker that you are and you’ll get dangerously close to burnout, putting the future of your business at risk. 

The biggest challenge for you, as a founder, is knowing the type of person and the role that’s needed. Hiring the wrong candidate can be catastrophic. Here are our tips: 

  1. Hire for the next 12-18 months: Your business will evolve as it grows, the team along with it. Elad Gill says it perfectly in his High Growth Handbook, ‘anything shorter [than 12 months] and they will not be able to scale sufficiently far relative to the time it takes to hire them. Anything longer [than 18 months] and you will over-hire and end up with someone who is a bad fit for the job.’
  2. Hire for experience: It’s invaluable to you and it’s why just promoting someone internally isn’t always the answer. 
  3. Hire for a good communicator: Communicating to different audiences is a key skill. Whether it’s to the team, the board or to support you with pitching to investors.
  4. Hire for a problem solver: Do they understand the major issues or blockers you might face as a business in the next year? Most importantly, will they know how to solve them? 
  5. Hire for a leader: Being able to nurture and manage processes and people to keep the business running smoothly is essential and will take a lot of responsibility off your day-to-day.
  6. Hire for a keen eye for talent: It’s a simple equation. The best candidates = successful, opportunistic growth for your business. 
  7. Hire for a strategic thinker: The ability to think flexibly and outside the box is beneficial in an exec role. Functionality can be spread across the entire business. 
  8. Hire for a motivator: How will they bring the best out of people? Not just the individuals they manage, but the whole team. 
  9. Hire for expertise: There’s no point hiring a VP of Growth & Product unless they have experience and specific expertise in those areas. 
  10. Hire for ownership: Execs need to accept responsibility, have accountability and take ownership of problems in order to solve them. 
  11. Hire for cross-functionality: We all know the impact of collaboration. Execs should go one step further and apply their knowledge in other areas (without stepping on toes). 
  12. Hire for culture fit: If you don’t do this, the result will either be rejection of your hiring choice or some of the team quitting under the new management. I’m sure you’ll agree that these are both undesirable outcomes. 

This list is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s a lot that founders need to consider for their exec roles and who will fit perfectly into them. 

We’ve designed workshops for executive hiring, organisation design and reviews, and how to structure the team for global expansion. We love helping businesses solve the challenges they face. That’s why we do what we do. For example, Airtasker faced this challenge and here’s how we solved it for them

If you’re curious, please feel free to get in touch.

Jonathan Jeffries

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