Sachin Tendulkar, the legend of our time is gearing up to play his last match. Soon the god will not be seen in on field. Every sports channel will try to bring him in the commentary box and in expert panel. There are already talks that the sports ministry is keen to hire him as advisor. I believe that can be a good move if he is allowed to bring changes or his advice is taken seriously.
Sports channels can afford Tendulkar or sports ministry can provide him enough play fields to bring changes in Indian sports. What if Tendulkar is hired by Kanada Road Cricket Association (KRCA) to train kids, to play gully cricket with tennis ball. Will KRCA afford him? Or can Sachin train the young gully cricket aspirants? Gully as ground will justify his god-like presence? What do you think?
Now imagine that a startup is like a gully, where founders are playing cricket. They hire the Tendulkar of their industry to guide them. They pay his salary through their nose and hope that god will change their fortune.
If you are planning to hire Tendulkars of industry, think it through once. No doubt that he has lot of experience but will you be able to provide him right pitch to use his experience. He might have excellent past performance to back it up in an extremely certain environment. When I say, a certain environment, I am not saying that he has not experienced the turbulent market conditions in his past job. He must have, that is why he is experienced. But did he ever work where his salary or personal benefits were uncertain. Did he ever work in an environment where decisions are more affected due to internal issues and not because of challenging market condition or competitors activity?
If a startup hires someone with great experience than startup should be able to provide him certain level of certainty and comforts which he is used to. If it is not possible now, wait for the right time.
While writing my book on Entrepreneurship I met one of the entrepreneurs. He candidly accepted the mistake of hiring marketing manager. He could not allocate the manager further team members like marketing executives. For some months, the manager did double up and performed the executive job as well. But eventually he was not effective. He was a good planner and manager but in his past job he used to delegate work to executives and now it was tough (or at times demeaning) for him to execute job. The mistake was that the founder might have paid a good salary to acquire the manager, he has not spent to hire executives, and hence could not utilize the skills of manager.
“I should have hired executive and manage him directly rather than the manager at the first place. I did not have resources to utilize his skills. At the end we both made losses and he left the job,” the entrepreneur lamented on his fault.
It sounds really cool to hire a good CEO. We all get hooked these lines like, “The professional guy will bring lot of skills and different perspective etc.” Very true, But an excellent professional CEO in well-funded organization might have delivered exceptional results; he may not perform in the same way in troubled financial conditions.
The startup challenges are different and hiring right resources is very critical. The game is so dynamic that your requirement will change and need for executives is much higher than planners.
So don’t hire Tendulkar for gully cricket. There is no grass on the ground where the best fielder can dive and catch it. The ball may go to next house and you need someone who can jump the wall and get the ball back. So hire that jumper, not the god! Not now!
About the guest author
Gagan is a seasoned professional with multiple years of experience in Media, Retail and E-commerce across India and overseas. He is associated with madinindia.com, a niche e-commerce startup and is also a founder of Rangrage.in, a designer label for hand painted merchandise. He has been actively conducting workshops for business bodies like PHDCCI and has been a visiting faculty in various reputed B-schools in India and Oman. He is also author of “The Start Up Diaries”, a book on entrepreneurship.
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