Arrrgh – where are the right people to work with?!

man holding his head

Finding the right people to work with, especially in an enterprise or project that is not-for-profit and whose main goal is to have a positive impact, can be very hard (I bet you know what I’m talking about here😏)

A big part of the characteristics of an ideal team member or co-worker – and I dare say more than half of it for sure – consists of the individual’s alignment with the values, vision, and mission of the project. And not only alignment but really buying into the cause and acting on it as if it was their own. Such people are tough to find! 

During a conversation with one of my clients, he came up with a brilliant solution to this issue – an issue that many are struggling with and that, if not resolved, can make or break any impact project right at its onset.

A bit of background information: He is a social entrepreneur and running a project aiming at social transformation on a large scale. His dream is to be working with a team of committed people (ideally people who take his project as their own just as he does) to bring that about. But he’s just not seeing it happen because of the lack of such committed individuals! After trying to work with different people as a team, he found out they weren’t the right ones. He was about to hit rock bottom and even wanted to give up.

In our conversation, he realized that in his search for potential co-workers he had mainly emphasized the hard skills needed for the different positions to be occupied. Once he had a few interested people and they seemed the right ones for the job, he then shared the values and vision of the enterprise with them. And of course, they all happily agreed.

Yet, after working with them for a while, he found out that they were mainly interested in the work opportunity they had with him but when the going got tough they were the last to show up and to be counted on. On top of it, the impact their work was supposed to have was greatly reduced because of their lack of commitment – not in terms of the technical part of the job but in terms of the “heart and soul” of what co-workers of such an enterprise should portray and stand for. He was very disappointed, to say the least!

Digging deeper into the subject, he realized that in his enthusiasm and desperate need for finally finding people to work with he had promised them what THEY were looking for: a work opportunity. So those people were easy to find. But – it was nothing more to them than that. 

Gaining this awareness helped him identify two important points to use in his quest to find the right people:

  • to remain “religiously” loyal to his own core values and the values defining the project – what it stands for – and to the initial vision that he had when starting out. Not moving away from it even one inch! 
  • when looking for people, he needed to bring the soft skills of the potential co-workers and a proper, clear and comprehensive description of the “heart” of the project to the forefront. He decided that he would make this an essential part of the job description, besides the required hard skills. This also included not being afraid to say no to someone even if they seemed the perfect match professionally but didn’t meet the soft skills criteria (soft skills for my client included not only the typical “soft skills” but also a certain type of person and a very specific set of values that the person needed to have – besides the “criteria of intuition”, the gut feeling that would show him if a person was the right one to team up with).

He also decided it was better to scale back and in the meantime work at a smaller capacity, together with the few like-minded committed team members that he already had (two people) so as to strengthen the core of the project and what it truly stands for. That meant saying no to different promising opportunities and deciding which ones were the most aligned with the ideal recipients of the project.

Towards the end of our conversation he added the last missing piece of the puzzle: while doing the above said he would simply have to trust that the right people, attracted by what’s being displayed and shown to the world, will show up and, using his own words, they’ll even be anxious to work with him!

Honestly, I think what he came up with is brilliant… and I can’t wait to see where it’s going to take him and his enterprise in the future!

(Note: The above-mentioned client gave permission to share his experience.)

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