I'll admit I may have seen more than 1 episode of Carebears when I was younger. I don't remember what it was about except that they are colourful bears with different icons on their tummy.
But I like Carebears. Not so much the cartoon but rather people who are caring and are willing to sacrifice themselves toward things that matter to them. If you ask me what type of people I would hire, I'll choose a Carebear any day, any time.
Carebears are awesome because they are here to serve. Their mission is to make sure your company is in better shape than before. They ensure the care-o-meter is all the way to the rainbow side.
But who are these mythical Carebears and how do we identify them? In my experience, there are some distinct characteristics and attributes that you can observe from people who care about their work.
People who care will care enough to communicate with everyone. Too often, teams and departments work in isolation and form silos. Carebears are those who would go out of their way to talk to others and make sure work is being done efficiently.
They are not afraid to speak up when it matters and always put the company's interest first above all else. They understand that an effective team is a team that communicates well with each other.
Given a choice, I'll always prefer someone who over-communicates than one that under-communicates. Men would be familiar with this. When your significant other complains about you not caring anymore, it is usually because they feel you are not communicating with them. The lesson here is to always communicate.
However, keep in mind on the various types and modes of communication. Everyone has their preferences and it is important you use the right one for the job. Most of the problems we have in an organisation aren't due to over communication but unnecessary communication.
Over the years, I've noticed that people who care are action-oriented. They are biased towards doing. So, a simple way to judge if someone truly care is to see what they do. Not what they say.
If you truly care about something or someone, you will do something about it. It may be small but it's at least something. For developers, it may mean making sure your code are well commented and documented. It could also mean you make sure you have good test coverage and the code quality is high.
For designers, it may mean anticipating different edge cases that weren't in the spec. It may mean doing research and understanding the problem by talking to users. For Product Owners, it may mean keeping tabs on the market of similar products and always on the lookout for new ideas and solutions for reference.
Another clear indicator for people who are action-oriented is that they actively seek ways to move forward. They will communicate their status and work with others to remove blockers. And if they have to wait for others to clear their blockers, they seek out other stuff to do.
These are the people who just can't sit still and always on the lookout to do something. They are the ones who not only suggest new ideas and solutions but are also the ones who would lead and spearhead them.
I think this is probably the most obvious attribute of someone care. Just look at what they have done and you will be able to tell.
Next is respect. You want to look for people who respect their work. I like to use the word 'craftsmen' to describe our team. You must have a certain respect for your craft if you are someone who cares.
If you respect your craft, you won't commit crappy code. If you respect your craft, you won't design something just to make someone happy. You will go the extra mile to make sure what you are doing make sense and it's of the highest quality you can deliver.
As someone who cares, you will also respect others. You care about your teammates. You will cover for them and help each other to get better. Carebears are people who make the entire team better with their presence.
Most importantly, you want those who respect themselves. At the end of the day, the first person you should care about is yourself.
The last attribute of someone who care, and possibly the most important of them all is empathy. In layman's term, empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. It is only natural that to care about others, you must be able to empathise with them.
I like to think that most of us are problem solvers. We are hired to solve problems for our company. In order for us to deliver the best solution, we must first understand the problem.
The best way to understand a problem is by putting yourself in the shoes of your users. Empathise with what they are facing and feeling. Understand their perspective and learn to see things from their context.
Quite often, we like to brush it off with remarks like, 'the users are dumb' or' this is how the whole world does it, why can't you do the same?'. Whether it's true or not isn't the point. You can only solve a problem by providing a solution that works for the users. Arguing with them doesn't help your case.
Look out for people who have a direct channel to the users or customers. These are the people who have first-hand experience of what the customer is facing and are willing to go the extra mile to solve them. These are the ones who empathise with your users.
BUILD A TEAM OF CAREBEARS
Hiring Carebears isn't a silver bullet that will solve all your problems. Everyone has their own flaws and weaknesses. Caring about something doesn't automatically makes it better. Remember, you have to take action else it won't matter.
What I believe is that, if I continue to try to hire people who truly care about their work, we will be able to solve any problem we encounter. The entire team will benefit as a result and we all can learn from each other.
In my mind, the best team in the world isn't a rockstar team with exceptional skills. It's really about them caring enough to continuously get better and help each other to succeed. That is why I'm always on the lookout for Carebears.