The Rule of Awesome

For years I have struggled with the concept of “hiring only A players.”

After all, what the fuck is an “A player?” Is there a test? Is there a list of characteristics that outlines the specific nature of an A player?

On top of that, the concept of an “A player” extends beyond just the skill set into the ability of that employee to engage and comfortably integrate into a set company culture.

The famed Facebook and Google interviews don’t always expose top notch employees. It certainly is a process that scares off a fair number of folks, but it doesn’t guarantee that the new employee is that unique combination of skills, personality, drive and compassionate intelligence necessary for the perfect fit within your organization.

About eight months ago I started to recognize a commonality among the employees at my startup and others that clearing indicated “A player”-ness.

The CEO/Founder, with pride, showcased something awesome that the employee did.

Simple, right?

Not really. What is awesome? How is it defined?

It’s like porn. You know it when you see it.

For me, awesome is when I see or find out about something the employee did, and I say to myself, “man, that’s awesome!”

I realized that the employees that I found myself saying that about where the ones that I was excited about. And the ones that I wasn’t, well, my excitement waned.

So we instituted a new rule:

If we are hiring you because you are awesome, then you have 30 days to do something awesome. And awesome is simply defined as me (or your supervisor) thinking to him/herself, “man, that’s awesome!” just once.

It has a real clarifying effect on our personnel and hiring discussions. We are clear when we hire folks that they have 30 days to do something awesome.

Now it’s clear that our team is full of “A Players,” and we can easily define what our needs are and if our team is properly filling those needs.

Is it harder than a Google interview? Who knows. It certainly isn’t easy. But The Rule of Awesome is clear and honest, and for most people that is more important.


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