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Hiring a High-Performance Growth Hacker – A Checklist

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High-performance growth hackers are a rare breed. 

Having trained over 10000 professionals from over 900 companies on growth hacking we’ve come to understand what makes a growth hire a success. There is a set of common traits that these individuals possess that sets them a level above the rest. 

These are not good digital marketers in disguise. They’re a unique type of individual that possess a core foundation of skills and innate abilities that enable them to drive optimal growth performance in organisations. 

To help empower organisations to identify candidates that have the traits of high-performance Growth Hackers we’ve put together the following checklist. These should apply to all candidates, regardless of the experience or type or growth hacker you’re looking for. Whether it’s for growth engineering, product growth or growth marketing.

The Growth Mindset

The best growth professionals we have worked with are passionate & lifelong learners. They pursue the acquisition of new knowledge at a continuous and rapid pace. 

This is called a Growth Mindset, as explained by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts”

This is the most important trait to identify in a high-performance growth hacker.

Why?

Because great growth hackers are opportunistic generalists. Their learning habits ensure they can be self-sufficient and possess cutting-edge knowledge & skills. This allows them to see opportunities where others would not. They can also make use of a wide variety of tools & resources to exploit these opportunities.

How to identify in a hire?

Ask the candidate how they like to learn and where they go to learn. Does this person read a varied and compelling range of books? Are they teaching you things you didn’t know, regardless of experience?

Antifragile

The best growth professionals are also antifragile. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb antifragile people “thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.” This is an exceptionally valuable trait when working in the high-pressure and intense environments of start-ups, scaleups or ventures.

Anti-fragile people don’t just understand that day-to-day work is a cycle of failing & learning, they embrace it. This is critical to success in growth hacking, as most of what a growth hacker does will fail, and it should. The best growth hackers we know at Growth Tribe embody the notion of ‘failing forward’ as part of the journey to success, to winning big.

How to identify in a hire?

Does this person seem routined or do they embrace randomness? Do they appear to take calculated risks or unnecessary ones? Have they worked in high pressure & volatile environments?

T-Shaped

As mentioned, embracing lifelong learning and the growth mindset helps foster generalists. These can also be referred to as T-Shaped players. And they’re the ultimate all-rounder.

T-Shaped players possess a broad range of skills & knowledge which they can utilise to a good degree. They’re also experts in a few specialised fields. This allows them to work with more agility, more cross-functionally and see connections their specialist peers won’t identify.

For these reasons we always recommend that your first growth hires are T-shaped. They will fit into the existing business structure with more fluidity and possess the competencies needed to get growth processes & tactics set-up.

Even for larger teams we still recommend that growth hires, or any hires for that matter, especially when working in digital domains, are T-shaped. We have found that hiring T-Shaped individuals results in a much faster time to productivity and T-shaping existing teams drastically increases collaboration, agility and productivity.

How to identify in a hire?

Can this person hold up a good conversation on a range of different domains relevant to the position? Did you identify this person as a lifelong learner? Have they got demonstrated expertise in a few key domains?

A Systems Thinker

Another key trait in the makeup of a high-performance growth hacker is systems thinking. System thinkers understand the interconnectedness of everything as a complex system. This is vital in modern business landscapes that are made up of many complex structures, relationships and interrelationships. 

Often growth hackers and growth teams are juggling between customers, products, pricing, delivery methods, brand, messaging, tone, channels, stakeholders, markets, legal & finance, to name a few. This means that the highest-performing growth professionals are able to draw conclusions by looking holistically at the landscape and considering not only inputs and outputs but opportunity costs and risk.

This also means that lateral thinking can often be ineffective, not work, or have unforeseen negative consequences. Perhaps an aggressive advertising campaign brings in short term leads & revenue but damages brand equity, which slows or stops growth in the long term.

System thinkers should, however, be capable of thinking laterally as it will often lead to the simplest and most effective solution.

How to identify in a hire? 

Does this candidate appear to seek feedback and causality? Do they look at things holistically? Have they demonstrated an ability to continuously test and optimise processes/systems? 

Analytical

A high-performance Growth Hacker needs to be data-driven, and to be data-driven, they need to be analytical. They must be able and wanting to capture and analyse both hard data and soft data. They must be able to gather data to identify problems and formulate solutions. Data analysis also empowers growth hackers to make better decisions that lead to effective actions.

This trait is another must-have for top-performing growth hackers. It’s impossible to effectively follow a process of rapid experimentation and formulate winning growth strategies without the ability to analyse, often complex, sets of data. Experimentation process is ultimately based on the conclusions a growth hacker draws from the data produced by the experiment!

We have found that lifelong learners & systems thinkers are of course normally analytical, they’re interrelated. Analytical thinkers are always searching for new knowledge in order to answer their continuous stream of questions. To do that they’re normally buried deep in data.

The world’s best growth hackers are also great data storytellers. They are both exceptional and analysing data and presenting the insights in a digestible way to relevant stakeholders. This is an important responsibility of growth professionals working in data-driven businesses.

How to identify in a hire? 

Do they demonstrate a desire to proactively seek out information and data to inform decisions? Do they have an understanding of the key metrics that drive business performance? Do they seem data-driven or opinionated?

Communication & Stakeholder Management

From our experience training over 900 companies on growth, we’ve identified a key determining factor for the success or failure of the growth process in organisations is how well stakeholders are managed. 

Growth processes and experiments can often tread on the toes of many different business departments and include several different stakeholders and decision-makers. So an ability to effectively manage and communicate with them is mission-critical. Therefore, top Growth Hackers must be fantastic at engaging and communicating with stakeholders. 

They should be good at stakeholder mapping, knowing who the key influencers are. They should possess an ability to manage expectations, consult and update interested parties. As great growth hires are great stakeholders managers they must posses a natural ability to build relationships and cultivate trust. They should, therefore, be great team-players and be as happy working collaboratively as they are independent.

How to identify in a hire? 

Is this person naturally likeable? Can they defend their ideas with clear, data-driven and compelling points? Have they worked in collaborative environments? Do they have experience with managing projects & influential stakeholders?

To Summarise

Good Growth Hackers can drive business performance. The best Growth Hackers will ignite business growth on another level. So whether you’re looking to make your first high-performance growth hacking hire, setting up a new growth team or looking to reinforce your current team, be sure to identify the discussed traits.

Plus, remember that the hiring company must make it a priority to remove as many blockers to growth and rapid experimentation. 

It’s in these environments where we see top growth hackers flourish.

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