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10 Types of Employees (or Partners) to Avoid : Page 2

Choose wisely among the people and positions that should be hired to preserve the efficiency of a project or startup.


5) People Who Aren't Genuinely Excited About the Project

People not genuinely excited about the goals, direction, technology or other aspects of the project tend to be mercenaries who are there to collect a paycheck.  They tend to add little excitement to the project and tend to jump ship to the next project that offers larger material compensation.  They tend to be the first to leave during tough times when they are needed the most.  That can really cripple a project and it is better to pass on that hire because the common result of the hire is usually below a 110% effort which the modern business environment requires.

6) Flakes and Talkers

The old expression that time is money never ceases to be literally true.  You must protect yourself from having your time wasted with great vigilance.   In order to protect yourself, a good practice is to give people little “test” tasks to test their dependability in order to make sure they aren’t going to be frivolous with your time.  If someone wants to chat over coffee and you are not certain whether this will be great use of your time, ask them to put together a little agenda.  Surprisingly many people will just back out of the meeting suggestion.  If you are thinking about bringing people on board, to make sure they will not end up being flakes.  Try to give them assignments and see how much effort they are willing to put into the task.  If they don’t complete the task, then you got your answer early and before this person were able to waste your time.  

7) People Unwilling to Learn or Step Out of Comfort Zone

In the modern Web business world, the speed of innovation is accelerating and people have to be more and more nimble and flexible.  As an example, today Java is hot and tomorrow it is Ruby on Rails.  And by the way, that was true a few years ago and today Java is becoming the C++ of 1995, Java is giving way to newer languages, and Ruby is competing with more and more languages that are springing up each year.  This is true in engineering, databases, marketing and businesses environments, and nearly every imaginable space across the board.   So if the person you are looking to work with isn’t innovative or open to new technologies, the current business environment will just swallow them whole and obsolete their skill sets quite rapidly, leaving you with a lagging person on your team.

8) Big Shots

People who are accomplished in their field come with lofty resumes, impressive degrees and shiny armor.   It is a good idea to be respectful, but not be overly impressed by someone’s credentials.  You were not there to see the real history of these credentials, and your concern is with the future instead of the past. 

People with lofty credentials sometimes tend to be averse to dirty and scrappy work.  They are fabled to come with inflated egos that make it difficult for them to fit into a team and be team players.  Also, it goes without mentioning that they tend to be the most expensive members of your team.

9) People Who Will Not Benefit From Working For You

People who do not truly benefit from working for/with you are usually people who are taken advantage of by you or the organization.  They are either grossly underpaid or are made to do menial jobs where they learn nothing they want to learn.  Such employees will not only drag you down and have that be your fault, but over time they will inevitably feel cheated and begin to bare resentment towards the way you handled the situations.  It might at first make sense to get the better part of the deal in terms of bringing someone on board, but if the situation isn’t fundamentally fair or well-intentioned, it will backfire.

10) Actual Lawyers

This is a controversial point so take it with a grain of salt.  Hiring lawyers or legal firms to help your startups can not be avoided if you wish to raise investment, create a multi-million dollar company, or even go public one day.  Yet if you are a startup or a young project, the chances of your company ever fitting into any of the aforementioned categories are probably equivalent to the chances of winning the lottery, so there are a few types of legal procedures and documents that you are probably better off avoiding as they all cost money and time if you want to create them.

There is a strong anti-patent movement that is currently led by some of the premier VC’s like Brad Feld.  So think twice before trying to get a patent.  Non-Disclosure agreements are also becoming a thing of the past because they offer almost no real protection and are usually a way to waste time. If you want to drive a good person away from your project, ask them to sign an NDA and will do the trick.  Additionally, trademarks or copyright documents tend to be quite easy and can be often done DIY (Do-It-Yourself) so often, a lawyer is not needed for that.

Alex Genadinik is the founder of San Francisco Hiking Community and a Startup Consultancy. Please say hello and continue the conversation on this topic on Twitter @genadinik
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