Friday, January 06, 2017

Stress Testing Your Partners & Team Members

Stanford Professor Lindred Greer studies startup teams extensively.   Not surprisingly, she advises students and others to be very careful in selecting partners and team members with whom to work.  She cites the old adage that she has heard many times from entrepreneurs and investors:  "Hire slow, fire fast."  In an interview on the Stanford website, Greer offers a recommendation for how to evaluate a potential partner or team member:

With my students, one of the big things I ask before they commit is, “Have you had a fight yet? Do you know what this person is like when things get stressful and ugly?” And if you haven’t seen that yet, then you need to find ways to gently explore how this person will react if you disagree with them or stress goes up... Push back on something much harder than you usually do, and see their reaction. That can reveal a lot. I’ve had students come back to me saying, “Oh, my gosh. I’m so happy I did that. That was terrifying.”

I find the advice useful, though I could see where it might be difficult to find just the right way to conduct this stress test without alienating a potential collaborator.  Many companies, though, clearly are trying to find ways to do some forms of stress testing as part of their selection process.  Increasingly, they ask job candidates to perform make presentations, conduct and share some work that they have done, and take certain tests.  They are putting some level of pressure on candidates, and they are seeing what they can accomplish and how they handle themselves.  

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