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Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow
Commentary

Does the perfect employee really exist?

Mar 07, 2015

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What’s the best mistake you ever made?” is written by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

Don't hire based on skills alone.

In the early days of PureWow, I always thought you needed to find the perfect employee on paper. I couldn't have been more wrong. I quickly learned that you can often teach employees new skills, but you can't teach them how to fit the company culture. If an employee doesn't fit the mold initially, they most likely never will. This could force them to quit, or worse, frustrate other employees.

It didn’t take us long to realize how much more fun (and productive) work is when people enjoy their work environment. We encourage our team to constantly communicate at PureWow: ask questions if you don’t understand something, cc or bcc your manager for visibility on emails, and let your colleagues know what you’re working on. Those who don’t like to share and prefer to work in silos won’t do well at our company. However, this wasn’t always the case, it took time for us to clearly define the company culture we wanted to create.

Now, I’m not saying you don’t need to look for skills -- of course you do. But hiring smart people that also happen to fit your company culture is what you should strive for. EQ is more important than IQ. In every interview we conduct at PureWow -- from tech to edit, and even sales -- we ask our employees to consider some of the following questions before hiring anyone: do I want to regularly communicate with this individual? do they have a great work ethic? how do they react during stressful situations?

Brilliant ideas don't make companies successful; the people who execute those ideas do. That's why hiring is the single most important thing any company can do and it should be done with great care. It’s the CEO’s job to be the conductor of the orchestra; find the missing puzzle pieces. Seek out employees who complement the skills of those already employed – every company needs a devil's advocate, right? And most of all, look for candidates who believe in your company's vision and are more interested in growing the business than achieving individual success.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What’s the best mistake you ever made?

Confessions of a startup founder: What I learned from my $5K mistake by Sunil Rajaraman, Co-Founder, Scripted.com.

How to fail (wisely) by David DeWolf, CEO and President of 3Pillar Global.

How to make the most of your mistakes by Tough Mudder CEO Will Dean

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