Hiring new staff has always puzzled me. You spend an hour, maybe two, maybe even three to get to know each other in the private equity team. Then you say “I do”, lift the veil, consummate the relationship with a handshake and that’s that. Signed, sealed and delivered.
But, imagine… just imagine you told your mother (or your best friend) that you were about to marry someone after knowing them for only a couple of hours. And, imagine telling them that you didn’t just meet this person randomly. You prepped them on exactly what you were looking for and were truly surprised when they said things that made you happy.
I hear you. Yes, there’s a big difference between private equity team employment and marriage. Sure, you see your husband/wife at least three hours a day, while you see your employees only between 10 and 12 hours a day. Agreed; big difference.
So, I’m thinking, all of the wisdom you hear about getting to know someone before marriage should also apply to private equity team employment. Moving in with them, enduring their habits, arguing with them, making up with them (hey, hey)… all of the stuff that is prattled on about by older learned folk. Of course by this I mean you should trial them.
Now, I don’t mean put the private equity team on probation, so if they kill someone or defraud you for a billion franc you’ll fire them. I mean put them on a fixed contract for a month with the intent that they’ll only be hired temporarily. Naturally, you’ll mention the potential to land a full-time gig, but you’ll also explain the uncertainty. Don’t even give them a title; call them a consultant or executive or something equally vague.
During this period, you can work them into the ground, enjoy a warm ale with them, put them in front of intimidating clients, have at least one heated argument with them and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to tell if they really have what it takes to work in your esteemed organisation. Sure they can put on an act for a month, but that’s much harder than for just 60 minutes.