I'm Mike Wozniak:

I help companies modernize their technology and licensing strategy for maximum effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability.

Mike Wozniak, Software Licensing Architect

How the North Star Method Can Facilitate your Hiring Practices

It wasn’t until seven years after my venture into entrepreneurship that I hired my first employee. While I was pretty lucky with the first few employees I hired, the one thing I wish was available to my younger self is Donald Miller’s Business Made Simple process and his StoryBrand framework.  Nowadays, the talent pool spans the globe, and it is more important than ever to share these processes with my fellow entrepreneurs.

Where is your North Star?   It's never too late to find it.

At SoftwareKey, Core Values now shape our Guiding Principles: together these precepts represent our North Star, the fundamental basis of our work that makes it possible for us to navigate the ever-changing tides of business today.

At SoftwareKey, we understand that defining and sharing our Core Values as a team:

  • touches every part of our operations
  • makes long term planning as well as everyday productivity much smoother and far more enjoyable.

Hiring New Employees

Hiring new employees, for example, is one area where your North Star can make all the difference. It’s easy to tempt fate by hiring someone who is a friend, or who is recommended by someone you know, or someone who seems to have just the right expertise, or who comes at the right price. But these criteria can lead to failure when you realize that your new hire just doesn’t get the culture and values of your team. No matter how brilliantly they may perform, unless they share your basic principles they’ll not be trusted by you or your staff. It’s a secret known to every manager: trust is key to success.

In fact, as I’m in the early stages of setting up a new tech company, I’m meticulously following these processes before any technology is even created.

Certainly this was a trap my younger self fell into: the learning curve was a long, slow process. I hope I can help you sidestep potentially painful lessons.

You might be nervous about hiring: how can you tell if you’re making the right selection? I suggest you will be able to choose more easily if your main interest is in seeking an alignment of Core Values.

How exactly does this work?

1. Define, Document, and Disseminate

Get together with key leaders in your company to identify your Core Values and Guiding Principles. Allow for ample discussion and creative thought. Think about the story of your business: come up with a way to talk about what you do in natural language that everyone can understand. Take copious notes during these discussion sessions.

Once you’ve arrived at understanding and agreement within the group, document the list of principles. It’s crucial to keep a record of your work in this area. The main points should be visible everywhere around your organization.

And then, tell the world!

At least, be sure every single member of your staff is well informed about these values and understands the need to abide by these concepts. Include the list in any published information about your company. Focus continuously on the direction in which your North Star guides you.

2. Use Core Values as the Basis for Hiring Discussions

Of course, you want to be sure a candidate has the requisite skills and training for the job. Once you’re assured of their technical knowledge, then you can begin the actual assessment to see if they will fit in and contribute to the strength of the team

Looking at the SoftwareKey Core Values, for instance, it’s easy to see that someone whose coding skills might knock our socks off will only work out for us in the long run if that person places high value on quality, learning, accountability, and sense of humor. Someone who wants to rush through their work, who is not interested in teamwork, or who is uninterested in our fun-loving culture may not be able to collaborate with the rest of our team in an effective way.

3. Create an On-Boarding Plan

Once you’ve decided on a candidate, provide a system of on-boarding for them that articulates exactly what you expect that person to accomplish in their first weeks with the organization. Help them by laying out steps they can take as they work with your Core Values and Guiding Principles. Be sure their North Star aligns with the company’s by making it clear from the start what success will look like for them as a member of your team.

The Result? Clarity and Efficiency

Our Core Values tend to be described in broad strokes - we’re not looking to turn people into zombies, mindlessly following some formula. We cherish the distinct personalities of our team members.

Still, we’re convinced that by defining and using our North Star, we save a ton of time and heartache. Anchoring our hiring process in our Guiding Principles and Core Values seems the most useful way for us and our applicants to find just the right fit.

And, by the way, you or someone you know might just be our next fabulous hire! Check out positions currently available at SoftwareKey.

Feedback?  I love it!  Leave a comment below or - better yet - leave feedback here!

  • Hi Mike,
    Loved the post. Aren’t your Core Values really derived from who you are and what is important to you? And if so, then if you start another company why would your Core Values change? I would expect them to be the same for both companies.

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