Top 3 Hiring Mistakes

Alright, now that we have 5 Non-Standard Recruiting Tactics and 7 Non-Standard Interview Questions let’s talk about hiring mistakes. As much as we work hard to build an excellent recruiting and hiring process, mistakes happen. Here are the top three hiring mistakes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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)?
  3. 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?

Chronological In Depth Survey Interviews

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:
    Job title
    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:
    Analysis skills
    Judgement/decision making
    Continuing education
    Stress management
    Interpersonal competencies

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?

The Daily Huddle

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?

Values Reflection at the End of Year

With the end of 2016 near, it’s time to reflect on the very core: values. Values are how we act when no one is looking. For the Atlanta Tech Village:

  • Be nice
  • Dream big
  • Pay it forward
  • Work hard/play hard

Check. Check. Check and check. Those core values feel right.

At a personal level, my company core values:

  • Positive
  • Self-starting
  • Supportive

Definitely. I want to spend time with people who are positive, self-starting, and supportive. A quick review of the values and everything feels right.

Here’s to closing out a great 2016. Happy New Year!

6 Corporate Culture Ideas

After Terminus won the #1 place to work award, several people asked what they do to build such a strong organization. Of course, the core of a great culture is the people, which starts with the values (see Strong Core Values Help Those That Don’t Fit Self Select Out). Yet, establishing values is only one piece of the overall puzzle. The key is to institutionalize programs that strengthen the corporate culture.

Here are six corporate culture ideas:

  1. Align Interview Questions with Core Values
  2. Maintain a Simplified One Page Strategic Plan
  3. Co-Founders are Keepers of the Culture
  4. The Culture-Oriented 7 Step Hiring Process
  5. 3 Must Read Culture Guides for Entrepreneurs
  6. 6 Steps to Build a Culture of Accountability

Corporate culture is intentional and powerful — make it the centerpiece of the company.

What else? What are some more corporate culture ideas?

Align Interview Questions with Core Values

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
  • Incorporate culture checks in the interview process
  • Whenever a candidate is turned down (make it a unanimous decision to give a job offer), take time to discuss the answers that the interviewee provided

Align interview questions with core values as part of the culture-oriented hiring process — it’s key to building a strong culture.

What else? What are some more thoughts on aligning interview questions with core values?

Quarterly Employee Check-in Process

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:

  1. What did you accomplish this quarter? (List top 5-10 accomplishments)
  2. What 3-5 goals will you focus on next quarter?
  3. How can you improve?
  4. 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?

The Ideal Team Player

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite leadership authors writing books like The Advantage and The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. His latest book, The Ideal Team Player, is focused on “how to recognize and cultivate the three essential virtues.” As always, he starts with a fable and then goes into more detail.

Here are the three virtues and descriptions from the book:

  1. Humility – Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
  2. Hunger – Hungry people are always looking for more.
  3. People smarts – A person’s common sense about people…the ability to be interpersonally appropriate and aware.

Looking to improve your leadership skills and build a better organization? Start by reading Lencioni’s books.

What else? What are your thoughts on the book The Ideal Team Player?

Video of the Week: Dharmesh Shah – Why Company Culture is Crucial

Corporate culture is one of my favorite topics (more here). For this week’s video, listen to Dharmesh Shah talk about Why Company Culture is Crucial and read his famous Culture Code deck. Enjoy!

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.

Maintaining a Sense of Urgency at Scale

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:

Maintaining a sense of urgency at scale comes down to the culture and communication. Set the foundation and reiterate the message.

What else? What are some more thoughts on maintaining a sense of urgency at scale?