Sacrificing Culture Fit – When the hiring manager and team feels pressure to deliver, and few candidates are available, people start talking about sacrificing culture fit. Don’t do it. Everything starts with culture fit.
Rushing the Process – Assuming you’ll be working with this person for the next 2-3 years (if not more), that’s thousands of hours. Don’t you think you should spend several hours with the person in the hiring process, especially if they’re a manager (see Chronological In Depth Survey Interviews)?
Not Moving Fast Enough When Ready – Great candidates don’t hang around for long. Once you’ve finished the process, and it’s the right person, move quickly and seal the deal. Don’t linger.
Don’t make these hiring mistakes. Ensure culture fit, follow the process, and move fast.
What else? What are some other common hiring mistakes?
Nearly 10 years ago I first learned about Topgrading and the chronological in depth survey interviews. Generally, the idea is to do an incredibly detailed interview of every past job for people in management and senior management positions. Start from college, regardless of stage of career, and ask deep probing questions. Find out how the person thinks and why they moved from position to position.
Here’s how to do chronological in depth survey interviews:
For each and every single job, ask about the following:
Start and end date
Starting and ending compensation
Roles and responsibilities
State of affairs when joining
Results and accomplishments
Mistakes and failures
Most enjoyable and least enjoyable aspects of the job
Circumstances that led to change of jobs
Manager name and phone number
Manager strengths and weaknesses
What manager would say about candidate’s strengths and weaknesses
Names of direct reports, their strengths and weaknesses, and rate them A through F
After the jobs review sections ask questions about the following:
Plan for this process to take 3-4 hours, minimum. Hiring great people is one of the three most important things an entrepreneur does and chronological in depth survey interviews are key.
What else? What are some more thoughts on chronological in depth survey interviews?
Over the years I’ve talked about the benefits of a daily huddle/scrum and it’s just as relevant today as 10 years ago. The premise is simple: get everyone together once a day and answer three simple questions:
What did you do yesterday?
What are you going to do today?
Do you have any roadblocks?
Pretty simple, right? This process is partly about the questions and mostly about connecting as a team. Between those questions there are a thousand nuances and details that come out. Connecting as a group is powerful, and communication is key.
What else? What are some more thoughts on the daily huddle?
Continuing with the interview questions theme (see 10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a Sales Role), there’s an extremely important element for the other side of the table when an entrepreneur is interviewing a potential hire: ask interview questions aligned with core values. At Pardot, our core values were positive, self-starting, and supportive (still, three of my favorite values), and since a critical part of the interview process was assessing core value fit, we came up with specific interview questions around each core value.
Here are a few thoughts on aligning interview questions with core values:
Develop written questions for each core value (and store them in a Google Doc)
Discuss the interview questions with all team members involved
With it being near the end of the quarter, it’s a good time to revisit the idea of a quarterly employee check-in or lightweight quarterly performance review. When the startup is small, this can be overkill, but as it grows, this is critical. At Pardot, we kept things simple and answered these four questions every quarter in a Google Doc:
What did you accomplish this quarter? (List top 5-10 accomplishments)
What 3-5 goals will you focus on next quarter?
How can you improve?
How are you embracing the company values? (Please provide specific examples.)
Pretty easy, right? Once the doc was done, the manager and direct report met for 30 – 45 minutes to talk through it, and the manager provided any coaching or feedback.
Entrepreneurs would do well to implement a quarterly employee check-in process as the startup grows.
What else? What are some more thoughts on a quarterly employee check-in process?
From YouTube: Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and CTO at the marketing and sales software firm HubSpot, distills his 128-slide presentation on company culture down to its essence, describing it as a business’s “operating system” that lets people do their best work. Shah says entrepreneurs must create a company culture they love, because one will eventually emerge no matter what.
Last week two different growth-stage entrepreneurs brought up the question of how to maintain a sense of urgency at scale (e.g. > 50 employees). When it’s a small team toiling away, it’s easy to maintain a sense of urgency just by constantly talking about the challenges and opportunities by motivating the team directly. As the company grows beyond the founders, that same passion and energy has to be translated through the culture. Peter Drucker came up with the famous phrase “culture will eat strategy for breakfast.”
Here are a few thoughts on maintaining a sense of urgency at scale:
Decide on the core values, especially ones related to a sense of urgency and focus, then incorporate them into all aspects of the business