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"Hire the right people"

Published: at 08:03 PM (4 min read)

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Yesterday I stumbled upon an interesting discussion on Reddit: someone was asking for advice about managing a team of developers. Many answers suggested that the most important thing is that you hire the “right” people. However, I feel like this sentence, although shared by many, could have different meanings for each of us.

When I say you should hire the right people, what I really mean is you should hire someone you can trust. There are a few key areas I prioritize most when trying to understand if I’d trust someone with my team’s work:

  1. Their judgement;
  2. Their responsibility;
  3. Their growth process.

Judgement and critical thinking

Before you code, think. Before you write, read. Before you speak, listen. Before you comment, reflect. Before you release, test.

—Addy Osmani 1

The first thing I try to grasp when I’m interviewing someone is their propensity to critical thinking. Portrayed as one of the “most in-demand skills” nowadays by the World Economic Forum, its very definition is somewhat contested. I’ll let etymology do the work for us.

The word critical comes from the ancient greek kritikos — “able to make judgments” — which in turn comes from the root krei- meaning to discriminate, distinguish: in fact, critical thinking is all about telling one thing from another. It’s about questioning every assumption not because one likes to waste time, but because it’s indeed essential in order to build a solid, true understanding. Critical thinking is deconstructing a notion in order to really make it your own.

Critical thinkers will be helpful in many ways other than knowing how to use particular tools or getting the job done, and will be most likely to bring innovation into their domain of competence. Critical thinkers are able to lead themselves and are more likely to be able to lead others. Their understanding will be deeper, and it will be easier for you to trust their judgment.


Taking ownership of a project doesn’t mean you own it – it means you care about your role and the overall outcome. Taking ownership is a commitment. You feel responsible to yourself, not just others.

—Gustavo Razzetti 2

While judgment is in my opinion the largest contributor to a person’s decision-making process, responsibility is another important key element that will make the difference when working on any project. A responsible person is someone that will take a certain degree of ownership of their own work.

Responsibility is often evident when discussing a person’s choices or evaluating their decision-making process. It shows if they typically feel in control despite the circumstances, signaling a high degree of autonomy, especially in the context of the classic reactive versus proactive mindset. In my opinion, behaviors of reactivity or proactivity in someone only are the result of their sense of personal responsibility and ownership of a project.

Responsibility is the biggest contributor to trustworthiness, even when a person’s judgement has not yet fully developed, maybe due to lack of experience.

Growth process

Remember, always, that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model.

—Donella Meadows 3

Last but not least: growth. A person who shows a sincere interest to grow instantly has my curiosity, but one that has the mindset of the perpetual learner has my full attention.

A person who’s able to grow is someone who’s able to constantly question themselves and their ideas, which is, in my opinion, the only real key to developing a true “growth mindset” — a term that has become so popular, but may not be as well understood.

A person who is able to grow is someone you can trust with your own growth. You will discuss problems, solutions, projects, companies and always be sure that both of you will come away enriched by it.

Speaking of mentality, there’s so much more at play when trying to hire the right people. Gustavo Razzetti, CEO of Fearless Culture, wrote an interesting piece which delves more into detail.