Startup Hiring: In Support of the Dispassionate
There has been a strong "passion" movement over the past decade or so, wherein every hiring manager wants to hire "Passionate" people. Common phrases on job descriptions (picked out off Linkedin) at all levels are:
"Passionate about the industry"/"Passionate and High-Energy Individual"/"...working on 'XYZ' is your passion"
Firstly, this is understandable. If you're passionate about an industry or area, you're more like to put everything into your goals, and inspire those around you to do the same. However, I'm simply going to go ahead and say: This is foolish.
What any startup really needs is rational, dispassionate, yet committed individuals, especially at leadership levels. (Note: Willing to concede that a mix is needed).
Tech companies go through phases or high growth, and phases of flat revenues. More day-to-day, they go through cycles of having products/features that take off, and others that simply don't. The dispassionate individuals are able to do the following, for example:
- Quietly trust data and feedback from customers.
- Take a rational view of the world instead of engaging in hyperbole (Think: "The competition is 3 months ahead" vs. "The competition is killing us")
- Minimize frustration borne out of focusing on problems, not solutions.
- Able to step out of their own job (shoes) and take an outside-in view (Think: "Our competitors seem to have a slightly faster sales cycle, and we need to understand whether that's because of team, product, or process" vs. "We have a passionate sales team - best in the market, and we can take on any competitor by trusting them")
- Relatedly, they're able to be calmer in conflict situations
I could go on, but the summary of my strong belief is simple:
A smart, analytical, dispassionate, yet committed individual is better suited to ride the crests and troughs of working for a startup. Passion is what helps you 10x the impact during the high-tide, and the dispassionate problem solvers are what get startups through the low-tide.
And if the startups I've worked for and watched closely are any indication, high-tides last only 10% of any startup's life cycle, while medium to low-tide times are a 90%.
P.S: Had a Twitter conversation with Entrepreneur/ex-colleague Brijesh on the topic. His view below: "Passionate rational people exist. And they are the best hires. They will go the extra mile but also call out issues when needed. The problem is when people become passionate about the solution they've made rather than than the problem statement"-- he is right, and I believe the latter problem surfaces often enough to not go down the "passion" route.