Andrew Thompson of Proteus

Here is a piece of an interview that Adam Bryant did with Andrew Thompson of Proteus. In the full interview that you can find HERE they make some very good points but I want to highlight these points below specifically:


Q. How do you hire?

A. I always say to everyone at Proteus that we don’t hire pegs, we hire people. We have job descriptions, but we’re looking for very capable authentic personalities. We hire in teams, so that’s really important.  So there’s no individual hiring.  And we hire across functions, so you don’t just get to hire within your area.

The single most important aspect of the hiring process is the human interaction — the cultural fit and the person’s raw talent.  So we’re very biased toward talent over experience.

Q. Break that down for me.

A. So cultural fit is very clear. It’s about people who talk about impact, and who are authentic about it and can be specific about places or spaces they’ve been where they’ve made an impact.  That matters because we’re a very impact-driven and purpose-driven company. We want people who come to work with their head, their heart and their hands. All of it.  You want the whole person walking through the door.

If somebody doesn’t have passions, that’s a problem. People who like risk and who are biased to action have some passions.  They have things that they’re excited about.  It could be their kids.  It could be their sports.  It could be their sewing machine.  It could be all kinds of things.  But they have it.  If they don’t, and if all they want is a paycheck and they don’t really care where they get a job, that will come through, too. And frankly, some people are like that, and some people want to go to work with their hands, and they want to leave their head and their heart somewhere else.

The points raised here are well taken, they seem to make the best use of their resources, and it starts right with hiring. He says:”we don’t hire pegs” referring to trying to put a round peg in a square hole. This is a very good point. Obviously folks need to be able to have the skills and capabilities to work on your product but beyond that the resources need to be approached flexible so that you can get most benefit of the wide variety of options people bring to their jobs. The clarification about passion comes back in our article about motivation, one of our 10 points of management, and is key to driving a successful team.

Managing Across Generations

Tamara Erickson is speaking at the World Business Forum 2011 and has this thought provoking management topic.

The CEO blog summarizes her contribution as follows:

The 11-15 year old time period tends to influence the lifetime. We are influenced by the news, our parents, our national context, our religion etc. Because we share the same national/news context then people of the same age share a lot of commonality.

EG – people born from 1928-1945 saw the birthing of suburbs, increased availability of consumer goods, new technology. Exciting times (except for the start of the cold war) Their common characteristics is they are joiners, loyal to institutions and respect hierarchy and rules. They respect positional authority.

Next – the boomers. 1946-1960. They saw Vietnam, civil rights, womans lib, assassinations of Kennedy and King, protests. Watergate and Nixons’ resignation. They want to make a difference, they do not want to join. They worry that they will lose their spot if they slow down. Hard working/driven – staying on top of their game. Idealistic.

Gen X – 1961-1979 Troubled economy, layoffs, rising divorce rates, CNN and electronic games. The first Gulf war. Challenger blew up – a symbol of an institution that let people down. Less loyalty by companies – you are fired, not just laid off to be the first called back. Many women entering the workforce so latch key kids. Their conclusion was “look after yourself”. They like to feel that they have options “I am doing this today but…”. Parenting has everything to do with helping “my child”.

Gen Y – 1980-1995. Terrorism, Columbine. They see the world as unpredictable. This has not scared them – they want to live in the now. Shaped by digital technology – unconsciously competent. More spiritual. Family centric – they love their parents. They trust authority.

Understanding generational difference can help to understand other peoples’ view.