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Plays Well with Others: How to Hire the Best Team

“Plays well with others: How to hire the best team ” was originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:

It takes years to find a compatible spouse, gather a close-knit group of career confidantes and cultivate friendships you’ll keep for life. But what about your relationship with the people you’ll be spending the majority of your waking hours with: your employees?

In start-up land, where my company Hint water () lives, you sometimes spend more time with your co-workers than significant others or family. So you need to make sure you’re ready to commit before you leap.

Building a winning team starts at the top. You have to make sure your core group of players—including your investors—are strong, inspired and centered before even thinking about filling other positions. I’ve talked to a number of people who have said that over the course of their businesses, they’ve learned that in order to get their business big, they must align with people who share their vision and dream to make their brand grow. And if even one person isn’t on the same page, the company may not get to the next level.

In the age of “me me me” narcissism, the easiest way to get everyone to start thinking in “we” terms and throw “I” in the garbage is to have a mission that everyone can get behind. And that’s exactly what you see at Hint—a group of people who truly believe in health and the power of drinking water.

A quick look around the Hint office reveals that most of us came to the company after working at places that either didn’t have a “healthier” or “better-for-you” product. (And if they did, the product might not have actually been that beneficial.) A lot of my employees tell me that they are inspired daily by the idea that they’re working for a company that helps health and gets people to live a more balanced life. And trust me: if people believe in your vision and product, they’ll show up everyday and give 100 percent effort.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that you should hire people who are better than you. I know, I know—that takes real confidence. But checking your ego can lead to big rewards and a more well-rounded team.

So how do I do it?

Start by valuing skill sets that you don’t personally have—and tell the people you’re interviewing that you appreciate their particular strengths. That’s exactly how I approach interviewing people, especially if it’s one of those situations where I don’t have a job description quite yet. I ask myself, “What sorts of things are this person better at than I am?” And if it’s a fit, I hire them into the company.

Leadership is another trait that is important to spot, no matter what position you’re looking to fill. I’ve seen it happen at other companies, where they’ve hired people in sales that are there to be soldiers—not leaders. But my philosophy is that if you hire someone who is capable of leading, even if it’s just a small team, that person is in a better place to grow into a larger leadership role faster.

Often when you’re interviewing prospective candidates, you get hung up on the idea of the job you need to get done. But that leads to boxed-in thinking that could hamper creativity and growth. So instead of hiring people who are good at a narrow set of job description parameters, look for people who you think will be able to handle a big top-level idea (whether it’s marketing, sales or technology) and give them a lot of room to roam in their job description. Not only will they appreciate the freedom and inspire their loyalty, but you’ll potentially have brought on someone who is more adept at adjusting to rapidly changing situations.