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9 ways to recruit extraordinary employees

June 4, 2015, 7:15 PM UTC
Sandra Coan Photography

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 “How do you keep your best employees?” is by Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group.

My most important job as CEO of Zillow is to identify, recruit, retain, and motivate extraordinary people. It’s what I spend most of my time on. Here are some of the ways we do this at Zillow:

  1. Set a clear vision. This helps empower employees so they know the company’s mission, direction, and how to solve problems.
  2. Serve your employees, not vice versa. If managers are focused on helping their direct reports succeed instead of always telling them what to do, the entire organization will be set up for long-term success.
  3. Hire people who are better than you, and help them become superstars. Never be afraid of being outshined by someone on your team, especially a subordinate. Their success will reflect favorably on you.
  4. Find ways to keep the company growing and dynamic. Great people want advancement and increased responsibility, but not by cannibalizing the jobs of their co-workers. And never take credit for other people’s work.
  5. Create a company culture that rewards innovation, rather than success. If you focus on rewarding success, people won’t take risks for fear of failing. Failure is proof that you’re trying. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.
  6. Value efficiency over face time. If you’re still at your desk at 10 p.m., you probably weren’t very efficient during the day. On a personal note, I turn off my phone on Saturdays and I usually don’t work on vacation. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about work–I do that all the time. But I do it quietly, and away from the constant pinging of e-mail.
  7. Offer corporate perks, but in a way that fosters the company’s culture. For example, Zillow invests heavily in employee education and training. Embrace a corporate culture that works hard, plays hard, and celebrates milestones.
  8. Motivate employees to succeed through autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The best way to do this is by staying on message and regularly communicating your company’s mission, and tying it back to the work your employees do on a regular basis. This will help them understand how their work contributes to the broader goal. Every quarter I remind myself (and my managers) of this by watching Dan Pink’s YouTube video on motivation.
  9. Finally and most of all, treat employees like grownups. There’s no room at Zillow for needless rules or oversight. Great people need autonomy and inspiration, not a handbook thicker than the dictionary.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: How do you keep your best employees?

Why this CEO encourages failure in the workplace by Amy Errett, CEO and co-founder of Madison Reed.

Sarah Kauss: Why a pay bump isn’t the answer to employee happiness by Sarah Kauss, CEO and founder of S’well.

The one perk that will guarantee employee happiness by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

The secret to holding on to your best employees by Amit Srivastav, president of Infinite.

3 ways to prevent your employees from quitting by Niraj Shah, CEO of Wayfair.