Using grit to identify rockstars

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Because your first 10 hires are your most important, new (and existing) business owners can't afford hiring mistakes, especially in the context of South African labour laws.


Gone are the days of hiring on the basis of intellect alone. Sure, it certainly helps to have an IQ rivalling Rabada's bowling speed (hard to believe, South Africa's average is 77; IQ, not bowling speed), but that says nothing about your ability to perform in the workplace. How then do we gauge if the 'new guy' is really going to shoot the lights out, or fade into the dark corners of obscurity?


Psychologists have long grappled with the challenge of measuring and thereby forecasting an individual's likelihood to succeed in life. Foremost in this field is Angela Duckworth; famous for introducing us to the concept of grit — an indicator of perseverance and passion, applied for a prolonged period of time in order to achieve a set goal while overcoming obstacles and challenges along the way. While conscientiousness remains highly correlated with grit (c. 0.75), it does not fully capture the desire to succeed, the doggedness to tackle adversity head-on nor the long-term dedication to one overarching goal. I'll let Angela help explain...



While the concept of personality profiling is known to most, seldom is it used upfront in the hiring process to assist in matching and differentiating talent. With close to 5,000 candidates already profiled (update: 23,000 candidates), Crayon does exactly this. We've recently taken the results of these assessments to combine 11 traits across 20 trait scales to generate a unique Grit Score for each candidate. Unlike existing grit scale tests, where the user knows they are being tested for grit and could therefore potentially manipulate their answers, Crayon's methodology takes the strength of specific personality traits to infer a score between 1 and 99, a first in South Africa. After 6 months of stats, our pool of candidates is split as follows:

  • Directors — 16.3% (your typical A-types and go-getters, but set in their ways)
  • Socialisers — 11.1% (your typical sales person, public relations, mover and shakers)
  • Thinkers — 12.7% (the analysts, engineers and IT whizzes)
  • Supporters — 59.9% (world average is closer to 70%, these are your customer service champions, counsellors and teachers)
  • Average Grit Score — 66 (ranging between 38 and 85)


With the start-up culture gaining traction across the country, grit, or at least the measure of grit, now provides owners with the ability to pick and choose only the best-suited candidates. Another authority on the concept of grit, and founder of the GRIT Institute, Paul G. Stolz, defines it as: "Grit is your capacity to dig deep, do whatever it takes — especially suffer, sacrifice, struggle, and stumble — in order to achieve your most worthy goals." In the context of entrepreneurship, he differentiates between good grit and bad grit:

  • "Bad grit — Pursuing your goals in ways that intentionally or unintentionally have a detrimental effect on others. The entrepreneur that berates, burns out, or demoralises his team is showing bad grit, no matter how noble the quest may be."
  • "Good grit — The inverse; pursuing your goals in ways that are ultimately beneficial to those around you and, ideally, to yourself."

Because your first 10 hires are your most important, new (and existing) business owners can't afford hiring mistakes, especially in the context of South African labour laws. Get in touch to partner with Crayon in finding your next, gritty, rockstar!