The Demise of the Superstar Culture: A Top Ten List for Modern Hiring

November 8, 2018 | Katrina Catacutan


Headhunt with us for a minute: You’ve got an open position in your business. You’re ready to list the job description and qualifications. But before you interview, may we suggest you pause—because this is not the hiring process of yesteryear. We’re no longer looking for the Ivy League standout, first-in-class, recruit par excellence. Yes, today’s ideal employee needs abilities that will spell a high likelihood for a successful company-employee relationship. But with digital transformation, the profile is shifting away from powerhouse superstar to flexible team player who contributes to the overall culture. And so, keep reading: We’re sharing our top ten list of desirable characteristics for your next hire.

10. It’s a Wonderful World

Good employees appreciate the international scope of modern business. Look for a global orientation—not necessarily a travel guru, but someone with cosmopolitan sensitivities who won’t be afraid to think about business from an inclusive worldwide perspective. Diversity is valuable.

9. Rolling With the Punches

Flexibility is underrated and hard to measure. It may take probing beyond the resumé to find out if an applicant can adapt well. If you’re poised for as a company for digital transformation, you should hire those who appear to manage change well, who are not thrown by bumps in the road, who are realistic enough to expect tough times, and who still exhibit perseverance.

8. Sign the Dotted Line

Are they willing to commit? To devote considerable time and energy to the job? To get behind this company and stick it out long-term? Demonstrate willingness to back people up, and employees will likely reciprocate. Initiate that loyalty-investment-longevity conversation. Advertise: Stay with us, and we’ll team with you long-term.

 7. There Is No “I” in “Team”

Speaking of team . . . (contrary to superstar thinking) a company’s success never rests on the capabilities of one. Good business happens because every employee is working towards the greater good. Find someone who values teamwork, and you’ve got a winner. Citing comments from a pool of search consultants, Harvard Business Review’s Boris Groysberg suggests you hire someone “more interested and skilled in developing his/her team, and less self-oriented.”

6. Learn Something New Every Day

You’ve probably heard buzz about “learning how to learn.” Yes, experience and technical expertise count for something still—(See point 5). But it’s more important that new hires know they don’t know everything yet. Learners are worth their weight in gold. Talent search for someone with insatiable curiosity.

 5. Body of Knowledge

It’s still good to go to college. And it’s still valuable to walk in the door with technical knowledge of the field. Basic skills are exactly that—basic, foundational, an important starting point. They’re a business baseline that you can’t ignore. Get the person who knows your exact business—or has know-how and experience in a coordinate, related field.

 4. Matchy-Matchy

Look at your company. Look at the applicant. And ask the question—Is this a good fit? It’s a tough question to answer definitively. If you describe the company culture in terms of a specific employee personality, and hire on that basis exclusively, you could end up with too much uniformity and too little diversity. Think instead about where your company needs help—perspectives and personality types which are missing, and unique life experiences that would broaden your team, not add more of the same.

Don’t throw “culture fit” completely out the window, however. Finding someone with “the embodiment of your organization’s values and the ability to mesh with the team” is significant. That intangible ability to collaborate and join your group is hard to create. Tony Hsieh of Zappos says good culture match is 50 percent of his hiring decision. Employ someone who brings to the table “something” your business needs, coupled with an attitude that you feel works well.

 3. Call to Action

The ability to create and execute a plan is a make-or-break for business. This is a two-part deal:

Vision. Hire an employee whose thinking is expansive, futuristic, potential-seeing, progressive, advancing. This person can imagine the possibilities and set a direction that makes sense.

Performance. Enacting that vision is just as crucial. Look for the person who has demonstrated capability to create logical steps and make them happen—the guy who set goals and met them—the individual who followed through on her big idea.

2. Able to Talk, Able to Listen

You’d be surprised if communication abilities didn’t end up near the top of the list. Day to day, company leaders have to present with persuasion—to a variety of audience types: the rest of the C-Suite, investors, all levels of employees, buyers and clients, and at times, the general public.

Back to #7, this isn’t the girl who can talk, but only about herself, or the guy who writes great emails or texts with proficiency. It’s a person who understands the power of voice and uses it well. Advance employees who can speak your company language convincingly. Let them talk about your products, your process, your goals. Good communication—public and internal—is hard to put a price tag on.

 1. We’re All Leaders Here

It’s not bad thinking to hire everyone based on some capability for leadership. You may find a leader “in the rough”—an underappreciated, underutilized gem with huge potential that other companies somehow overlooked.

Leadership is #1 for a reason: It represents the conglomerate ability to inspire others to follow. What’s inspiring in today’s leader? A willingness to take some risks—someone unafraid to make a tough decision, put a new idea on the table (or suggest an old idea be taken off said table), ruffle feathers, make waves, or be considered unpopular while others get on board. This person will walk in front, even if alone. Go for the person who exhibits leadership or shows that they can.

Like everything else transforming in digital business these days, who companies hire is changing. The most wanted worker is the global-thinking, open-minded recruit who has less experience (perhaps), but a strong knowledge base, plus solid communication and leadership skills, and a willingness to learn more. Keep your eyes out for these people.

Topics: featured Change Management Organizational Design

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