Should African startups hire task-oriented or mission-oriented talents?

Tech companies can build high-performing teams that consistently meet objectives, drive innovation, and fuel organizational growth but they will need to get the right mix of talents to achieve that.

Should African startups hire task-oriented or mission-oriented talents?

Tech companies in Africa face a significant and similar challenge in creating teams that possess the perfect blend of skills, mindsets, and orientations to drive them towards success. The ideal team is made up of two distinct types of individuals vital for driving effectiveness: the mission-oriented and the task-oriented. While both types play crucial roles, identifying and nurturing task-oriented individuals can prove to be a daunting task for tech companies due to their elusive nature.

In this article, we delve into the significance of striking a balance between these orientations within teams, examine the characteristics of each type, and provide expert insights on how to identify and nurture task-oriented individuals.

Understanding the mission-oriented and task-oriented individuals

Mission-oriented individuals are propelled by a shared vision, a sense of purpose, and a deep passion for the overarching goals of the company. They excel at inspiring and motivating others, aligning team members around a common cause, and envisioning a future that goes beyond the status quo. These individuals thrive in the face of challenges, consistently thinking outside the box to identify innovative solutions. Possessing strong communication skills and adaptability, they are often comfortable with taking calculated risks.

On the other hand, task-oriented individuals exhibit a high level of focus on achieving tangible outcomes and meeting specific goals. They are exceptional at managing and organizing tasks, ensuring efficiency and productivity throughout the team. These individuals pay meticulous attention to detail, demonstrate unwavering reliability, and consistently deliver results.

Task-oriented individuals thrive in structured environments, where they can systematically break down complex problems and execute plans with precision.

Why both orientations should be balanced

While mission-oriented individuals are pivotal for establishing the purpose and direction of a startup, it is the task-oriented individuals who transform vision into reality. Striking a balance between these orientations within teams is crucial for achieving optimal performance and sustainable growth. Innovation is undeniably important, but equally essential is the ability to execute effectively.

A team that consistently delivers on tasks and goals acts as the backbone of any successful organization, bringing reliability, efficiency, and a results-driven mindset to the table. However, finding task-oriented individuals who are not just aligned with the mission but also driven by the company's vision can be a challenge. If they are not somewhat aligned, they can easily be swayed by enticing job offers, always seeking the next best-paying opportunity.

How to identify and nurturing task-oriented individuals

“You attract the right talents by building a strong EVP (Employee Value Proposition), which is part of employer branding. The right talent can help you achieve your goals, innovate, and grow. It is also important to hire for competence and culture fit,” says Kemi Ogunmuyiwa, co-founder and Head of People at Zedi Africa.

“When you're hiring, it's important to look for candidates who have the skills and experience for the job, but it's also important to consider their culture fit. You want to make sure that the people you hire are aligned with your company's values and will be a good fit for your team,” she added.

Recognizing individuals who excel at execution requires a strategic approach to recruitment and team composition.

Here are some expert-recommended strategies to identify and nurture task-oriented individuals:

  1. Structured Interview Processes: Move beyond assessing only technical skills during interviews and evaluate candidates' ability to manage and prioritize tasks. Pose situational questions that provide insights into their goal-setting approach, work organization strategies, and proficiency in meeting deadlines.
  2. Past Performance and Track Record: Carefully review a candidate's track record and assess their past achievements in delivering results. Seek references from previous employers or colleagues who can vouch for their reliability, ability to meet deadlines, and attention to detail.
  3. Task-Driven Assessments: Administer assessments or simulations that simulate real-world scenarios, enabling observation of candidates' problem-solving skills, time management abilities, and attention to detail. These assessments offer valuable insights into their execution capabilities.
  4. Balancing Team Composition: Once task-oriented individuals are identified, ensure a well-balanced team composition by combining them with mission-oriented individuals. This combination fosters collaboration, with task-oriented individuals ensuring efficient execution while mission-oriented individuals provide strategic direction and inspiration.
  5. Continuous Learning and Development: Nurture task-oriented individuals by providing training and growth opportunities in areas such as project management, time management, and effective communication. Encourage them to develop leadership skills and offer opportunities to lead projects or initiatives.

Should employers hire for “mission or task”?

According to Ogunmuyiwa, hiring based on a task is basically transactional; employees do their work, get paid, and that’s it. No extras. Meanwhile, hiring based on mission is focused on finding people who are aligned with the company's mission and values. This approach is more holistic, meaning that the company is looking for people who share its vision and who are passionate about its work.

She said that hiring based on mission can be divided into three:

  • It can help attract and retain top talent. Employees who are passionate about a company's mission are more likely to be engaged and productive.
  • Mission-based hiring can help create a more positive and productive work environment. When employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, they are more likely to be motivated and to go the extra mile.
  • Lastly, mission-based hiring can help build a stronger brand. When a company is known for its mission and values, it attracts customers and partners who share those same values.

“One major challenge to this approach is finding people who are aligned with the company's mission and values. However, the advantages outweigh the challenges,” Kemi Ogunmuyiwa told

Achieving success through the dynamic blend of orientation

To stay competitive as a business requires striking a harmonious balance between mission-oriented and task-oriented individuals. While mission-oriented individuals provide vision and inspiration, task-oriented individuals are the driving force behind the achievement of goals and the transformation of ideas into reality.

By identifying and nurturing task-oriented individuals, tech companies can build high-performing teams that consistently meet objectives, drive innovation, and fuel organizational growth. The synergy created by combining these orientations propels companies to new heights in an increasingly competitive market.

Finally, building high-performing teams in African tech startups requires an astute understanding of the dynamic interplay between mission-oriented and task-oriented individuals. By creating a balanced team composition and nurturing task-oriented individuals, companies can capitalize on the strengths of both orientations.

The beautiful fusion of visionary inspiration and executional excellence empowers teams to deliver on goals, drive innovation, and fuel sustainable growth. In the quest to build a billion dollar company, striking the right balance is not just a choice but a necessity for success in Africa’s ever evolving ecosystem.

This article was written by: Levi Cee

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