I'm the CEO of a small but extremely fast-growing startup, and here lately I've noticed something that troubles me: The majority of my employees are fairly thoughtless. I'm not saying they're stupid. I'm not saying they are lazy. Neither is true. If they have a clearly defined process, and they've been trained on how to handle it, they can execute with precision and excellence. They'll also do everything in their power to do a good job. But it's a start up. Almost none of our processes are defined. We are also growing so quickly that I don't have time to train everyone. What I really want is to give someone an objective or a problem, and they take all of the data and complexity and compose an elegant solution. I want them to think, problem solve, and be creative. But that's not happening. Pretty much every employee is coming to me with every problem and asking me to think through it and tell them what to do. I've tried asking questions and providing gentle guidance instead of telling them what to do, but they act like I'm punishing them. They sulk and tinker with the problem halfheartedly until I tell them what to do. Part of the problem is me, I think. I have trained them to let me think for them. Whenever they develop a solution, I also have a tendency to very calmly and nicely rip it apart and rebuild something better in front of them. But I also wonder if I'm hiring the wrong people. This is horribly politically incorrect, but sometimes they remind me of a bunch of kids with down syndrome working together to build a sandcastle. They are happy and motivated and hard-working, and they might even create something at least somewhat resembling a sandcastle, but at the end of the day, nobody is going to care when the waves wash it away. Instead, I feel like I need architects, people with such stunning insight and intelligence they can construct a sandcastle like the world has never seen. People will weep when the waves wash it away. But where do I find those people? And how do I convince them to work for me?
First and foremost, you are not alone. The fact that you took the time to write this means two things:
1) You're in tune with the situation
2) You care enough to resolve it (and hopefully be open minded enough to do so)
Having passion is great, and sharing that passion with your team is a powerful thing. However, oftentimes when an extremely passionate entrepreneur 'hires wrong' he or she will find that a few things happen:
A) If an employee isnt actively adding to the mix (to the expectations or perspective of the culture) then they begin to be perceived as 'in the way'
B) When something is in the way of passion, the outcome is 'construction' - but rather - 'destruction'
To resolve this issue, as the founder and CEO you are going to have to do a few tough things:
1) Fire the problem employees: If they don't 'get it now' then that means they dont understand your culture (or your "how" process - aka from your example: problem solve on your own and then pitch some solutions)... You have a window of opportunity to onboard a new employee into your culture successfully, and if you miss it, the most successful and responsible thing for the both of you is to admit that failure and move on.
2) Take the time to develop clear and concise actionable strategies, supplemented by a written guideline emphasizing your 'culture' or 'how process'.
It may seem like you "dont have the time" -- but lets not fool ourselves... what's more important than having a functioning company?
Taking the time to do it one time successfully yourself, empowers you to write the manual for others, which then you should walk through and train appropriately using the manual as a tool.
Stop giving your team a fish & begin teaching them from the start to fish for you.
Every employee 'wants' to come through for you when you first hire them... however, they are not sure what you expect or how you expect it & thus afraid, which prevents them from flourishing. Take the time to empower them with the answers and onboard them successfully from the beginning!
Simply put, these employees may be at fault now... but the core of the issue lies with the person who got them there.
Gut your mistakes, and start over successfully. Taking the responsibility it is highly recommended to strategize a successful 'strategic exit' for each of them -- if youd like to talk that through Id be more than happy to.