Cultural fit and personality are as important, if not more, than technical skill

When hiring and building teams, it’s relatively easy to find people with skills. However, when you need specific skills it gets a bit harder. Then when you start to consider personality, communication style and cultural fit potential it gets harder still. Building a relationship with a new team member can be challenging depending on the operating style of the company. Over time in my last role, I got better and better at the on-boarding process post hire so that the team could ramp faster. Also (Hi, Ben) I learned from one of my hires that I needed to balance selling the opportunity and the current state of things. For nearly six months, I got the kind of questions I am certain I had for my first manager. Setting expectations appropriately would have saved me time and energy.

In my interview yesterday, the cultural fit wasn’t there. The awesome thing is that the recruiter followed up quickly and the team did not waste their time, or mine, in the process. Ultimately, as I learned from watching the first season of, “The Apprentice,” on NBC is that technical skills are good but the ability to learn and improve is better. The other thing which came across about the show was how each person usually had trouble spotting their own gaps and improving. It was as much personality challenge as it was about the business challenge.

The whole area of personality assessment and the Meyers-Briggs type questionaires never made a ton of sense to me until my last role. For the startups I’ve had, even when we ramped the staff, the management was hands on and very much scripted. Hiring was putting people through a list driven process and seeing if they had the internet savvy to check each box. Other than that, as we were a virtual team, personality and cultural fit weren’t a part of the assessment.

Looking back on my Yahoo experience, the underpinnings of the company back then were still very, “Hacker friendly,” in a good way. Want a developer account? Done; you’re good to code. Want to setup an email list? Done in five clicks. Want to get all sorts of data six ways from Sunday on usage patterns across any given property, whether or not you’re working on said property? Done. The, “Hacker friendly,” part of Yahoo’s culture was very appealing to me, despite my few years of programming, it’s not my forte. Still, things were raw enough and the ingredients were all there if you wanted to do something in your free time that made work easier, you had implicit and explicit permission.

In my Intuit experience, I learned a ton about communication and building consensus across disparate stakeholders. Leading through influence, rather than position authority. I learned other things as well, which I cherish and that having had the experience enables me to be even more excited about the next chapter.

Oddly enough, growing up I was the least inclined of the Goodrich’s to roll up my sleeves and do serious physical work; I never worked in construction and have only re-roofed one house and painted two. Digitally speaking when it comes to work, I’m thrilled whenever I can get stuff done. Checkout via Git and edit some copy? Sure. Draft a blog post, press release or script for a webinar? Awesome. Strategize on a testing roadmap to ensure optimal price, conversion rates and LTV? Definitely.Instrument via Google Experiments, Optimizely or similar the test code and HTML? No problem.

Meta-work about the work that needs to happen before it can get then prioritized in an upcoming sprint to have an impact which can’t be measured end to end? Not so much. I like data, I like measurement and I love marketing platforms that can change the category. Knowing my own cultural and personality type ensures that I’ll land in the right place, doing the right kind of work.