2 min read

Hire Problem Solvers. It's a Mindset.

If you view people and teams as problem solvers first, and not box them in by their role definition, adaptability becomes built into the culture of your company.

45-second read (+1 min. video)

It’s simple: The ROI of a problem solver is far greater than that of a role filler.

Retention is higher. Referrals are higher. And their overall contribution to the business expands beyond the boundaries of their job description. (They’ll shock the hell out of you.)

Role fillers can be a liability. They’re transitory. They view a job as a job. They have lower buy-in and therefore less loyalty and commitment to the business. In the end, role fillers can end up costing you a lot of money.

Strategically:

If you view people and teams as problem solvers first, and not box them in by their role definition, adaptability becomes built into the culture of your company.

A role is just the entry point for how a problem solver contributes.

Again, it’s a mindset.

How this impacts recruiting:

Problem solvers can come in non-traditional packages.

Yet, companies will use a role to define whom they can and cannot recruit—putting limitations on their recruiters and hiring managers.

These limitations at the recruiting level end up informing how a person can and cannot contribute to the business—constraining their ability to influence the larger mission.

How this relates to retention:

Being put in a position to solve interesting problems keeps people inspired and engaged.

Companies and operators need to realize that most employees can't just put themselves in a position to solve problems. This opportunity needs to be given to them.

Unfortunately, most of the “givers” are blind to the fact that that's their actual job.


“Hire problem solvers, not role fillers” is a very agreeable thing to say. It’s also easier said than done.

This works particularly well for small, flexible orgs that can take calculated risks and hire outside the box. For larger companies, this requires an intentional approach to hiring. Because once things start to scale, it's hard not to play the "butts in seats as fast as possible" game. And when you do, it's even harder (if not impossible) to get out of it.

Equally agreeable, and equally true: It’s a necessity for recruiters and hiring managers to have the freedom to look past the resume and screen for EQ, flexibility, and adaptability—especially at the startup level.

Identifying these problem-solving traits is a skill. Those that have it can find gems in a sea of sameness and hire long-term, high ROI employees who are flexible enough to adjust to the many (guaranteed) pivots as the org quickly scales.

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