Hiring Talent and Building a Team — Part 2: Core Staff
In the first part of this series, our Art Director, Jen, shared some of the key attributes she looks for when hiring freelance artists. But what about when it comes to hiring for our core team?
Certainly, as with freelance, artistic talent is important. But it’s just one of many factors I consider when deciding whether to add someone to our little family of full-time employees. Because frankly, I’m proud of the culture we’ve created here, and I want to protect it fiercely by finding people who aren’t just the right fit artistically, but culturally.
When evaluating a candidate, I try to figure out if they are extrinsically or intrinsitically motivated. If someone is extrisically motivated, they find reward in things like money, status, rewards, or the notion of winning in a competitive environment. Intrinsically motivated people tend to find enjoyment, purpose, growth, curiosity and self-expression to be the bigger reward. And when I think about the kind of person I want to be around eight hours a day, that’s almost always an instrinsically motivated person because they tend to be more fun, more engaged and more creative. Plus (added bonus to me as a studio owner!) they tend to produce better work because they find deeper meaning in the work itself.
And that brings me to the second attribute I’m looking for: The desire to use one’s talents for good. If you look at the kind of work we tend to do here at Planet Nutshell, we primarily work with clients in education, nonprofits, and healthcare–fields dedicated to helping others. And I want my core team to buy into the idea that we are doing more than simply producing animations. We’re helping our clients further their mission to make a difference.
Someone with intrinsic motivation and an empathetic, interpersonally-minded worldview tends to come by my third desired attribute pretty naturally: emotional intelligence. When you are a student of human emotion and interdependence, I feel confident you will fit in with our existing full-time team of creative, sensitive and thoughtful people.
Okay, so by now, you’re probably wondering, “But what about the practical things?”
Yes, hard skills are important. Without proper training in animation, illustration, storyboarding, and storytelling, you probably won’t make it to the interview stage. But having those hard skills and knowing how to use them to solve problems is an entirely different matter.
Problem solving requires a special mix of hard and soft skills, someone who doesn’t view themselves or their abilities through too narrow of a lens. This is why we generally don’t hire specialists to come onto our core staff (though we do hire them as freelancers when needed). Instead, we aim for generalists–those talented and curious problem solvers who don’t care about their defined role. They just want to use their skills to contribute to a team that’s creating something much bigger than themselves.
Great article, Joshua. The things you’re looking for in an employee are the things I find help me perform better as a business owner and an artist (for lack of a better term). Whenever I’m stuck on a project or it feels wrong to some degree, the first thing I do is check my “why” – what’s my reason for doing this gig? In those problem cases, I find that my “why” is usually to feed my own ego or to make a buck, not to serve the project, the cause or my client. Those soft skills you mentioned really are “true north,” and it helps to do regular compass checks!