My Ideal Employee Series Part 1: Humble Self-Awareness

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You are only as good as the team you work with, so I make it a point to surround myself with people better than me. In this series, I will post the qualities I look for in people who wish to work with me.

The first important quality is that the person should know him or herself. It is important to know why.

Specifically, the person should know clearly where the company can rely on him/her to deliver with confidence. The person should have a natural interest to expand his/her own insight of that area, which is seen as passion.

The area does not need to be related to the job either — you could just as well be passionate about unrelated but complementary areas, e.g. a software engineer passionate about process design. Having atleast one passion, however, is essential.

This self-awareness should also be candid, and the person should also know clearly and frankly where he/she would like to learn from others in the company, or the areas where he/she would need help and guidance.

Working relationships begin with a good understanding of one another, and is marked with a frank agreement on whether the expectations suit each other.

There will be passionate people who want guidance in certain areas where I may think that the guidance required will become a distraction for the team downstream. Being able to discuss that honestly however, is a virtue that we should both appreciate. The other person would just be a better fit in other teams.

People who have yet to find their passions tend to see work either as a means to a living, or as a means to explore different areas to decide where to specialize. I have seen that such people always stop their own selves from growing rapidly and from finding their place within a team.

On the other extreme, I have seen people who have brought so much bloated ego to work they have actually refused to work out of principle.

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  • Osama, completely agree on the self awareness and passion bit. These days when I interview candidates after they have been through the testing and interviewing process, my focus is on testing self awareness. I even posted my short list of self awareness questions on my startup blog (DesiStartup) for candidates who are smart enough to research firms they end up applying to. A selfaware candidate is a low maintenance employee; he is secure, committed, professional and does outstanding quality work.

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