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?

Video of the Week: Dan Pink – The puzzle of motivation

For our video of the week, watch Dan Pink talk about the puzzle of motivation. As an entrepreneur and leader, motivation is constant topic, and an area to study. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

Recruiting Executives in a Startup

While there’s significant talk about recruiting great software engineers and sales people, even harder is finding key executives to join a startup. Like anything important, it requires tremendous time and effort to do well. Yet, with so few qualified candidates, it can be even more challenging than expected.

Here are a few thoughts on recruiting executives in a startup:

  • Build a candidate pipeline well in advance of the hire and work to nurture the relationships (go ahead, set up a recurring quarterly calendar notification just to nurture the relationship)
  • Bring the board and advisors in to the executive recruiting process to help identify potential candidates as well as meet with identified candidates
  • When a qualified candidate has been identified, and is interested, run a Topgrading chronological in-depth survey (plan to spend 4 – 6 hours on interviewing each candidate)

Recruiting key executives to a startup is incredibly hard, and one of the most important things an entrepreneur will do. Invest the time to do it well and build out a great team.

What else? What are some more thoughts on recruiting executives in a startup?

Video of the Week: Seth Godin on the Difference Between Leadership and Management

For our video of the week watch Seth Godin on the Difference Between Leadership and Management. Seth has one of the most prolific blogs ever and is a well known author. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Bestselling author Seth Godin says that “Management and leadership are totally different things. You think you are being a leader, but you are probably being a manager.” He goes on to say, “Managers figure out what they want done and get people to do it. Managers try to get people to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper with a few less defects.” But this is not leadership. What is leadership? You’ll have to watch this seven-minute video to learn more.

Video of the Week: Stanley McChrystal – Leadership is a Choice

For our video of the week, watch Stanley McChrystal: Leadership is a Choice. Enjoy!

From YouTube: “Leadership is not a talent or a gift. It’s a choice. It’s not complex, but it’s very hard.” General Stanley McChrystal explains to a packed auditorium of 600 at Stanford Graduate School of Business. McChrystal shares his perspective on leadership and influence discussing the importance of understanding culture, leading by example, building trust, and creating a common goal within a team. McChrystal is a four-star general and former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. He also served as the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

Video of the Week: Patrick Lencioni – The Four Traits of Healthy Teams

Patrick Lencioni, one of my favorite authors, talks about The Four Traits of Healthy Teams in our video of the week. Enjoy!

From YouTube: IESE Prof. Marta Elvira recently spoke with Patrick Lencioni, an expert on building teams and healthy organizations, at the World Business Forum in New York. In their discussion, Lencioni points out that healthy teams have the following four characteristics in common: 1) cohesive leadership 2) intellectual vibrance 3) the ability to communicate clearly and 4) structure, without being overly bureaucratic.

Counterpoint on OKRs as Bad for Small Teams in a Startup

Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, tweeted out an interesting counterpoint from Steve Olechowski  about OKRs being bad at the micro level in a startup:

A few notes from the email:

  • OKRs were counterproductive to his small team at Google, felt bureaucratic, and killed productivity one week out of the quarter when people worried about them
  • Macro level OKRs were good for focus
  • When product cycles or iterations are shorter than a quarter, OKRs can incentivize the wrong things
  • Watch the Google Ventures video on OKRs to understand them
  • Overall, he feels small, nimble teams are less nimble with OKRs

OKRs, wildly important goals, and SMART goals are all great methodologies that have their place. The key, as always, is to apply them intelligently.

What else? What are some more thoughts on OKRs as potentially bad for small teams that have shorter time frames?