Startups vs. Corporate Hiring and Assignments

I've been thinking a lot about the differences between the corporate and startup world (in part due to reading The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value). 

In the startup world, one is often expected to wear different hats and be willing to "roll up your sleeves" and do whatever is needed. I can't tell you how many startup ads, regardless of the level or title they're hiring for, include language similar to this. Contrast this to the corporate world (or just mid to large size companies), where job descriptions and requirements are very specialized and where once hired, you often can't move from function to function without taking a demotion. 

And then there is the other corporate scenario, where a reorganization will leave you with a different job and you are expected to adapt.

So what's right? When is expecting staff to do whatever is required good for them and the company, and when is it setting them up for failure and unhappiness?

I actually don't think there is one right answer and it really depends on the situation: 

  1. If you cannot afford more than a handful of staff since you are a true startup, then hire people who like doing many things.
  2. Be clear in your expectations when hiring or if needs change thereafter, give the person hired an option.
  3. Determine how quickly/badly you need the new (or a different) skillset. If you have time, see if any in-house staff are interested in taking this on; if you don't have time, hire someone either short-term or long-term, depending on your needs.

Regardless of the situation, ask your staff first. Trying to keep staff happy and motivated—and showing you care about their input and career development—will actually help your company be more profitable and productive. More and more studies and books have addressed this hard to prove phenomenon.

And then of course it also depends on how much of a "stretch" the new ask is. The Self-Made Billionaire Effect includes a whole chapter on "leadership partners." Even the billionaire producers with their inherent dualities (that I've written about before) need the help of performer counterparts to actualize their visions past a certain point. 

No one can be good at everything or enjoy everything, so why not use inherent strengths and interest to help make assignments? You'll have happy and thriving employees, great morale, productive teams...and people looking forward to Mondays. All upside and all business common sense.


Karina is VP of Operations and HR at 24/7 Teach.

Originally posted on Business Common Sense blog.

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