Hiring the Right Staff and Knowing Who the Right Staff is

John Skinner




Who wants to hire the wrong staff? Unfortunately, I have had a couple of times in my career, where I came across a highly brilliant technologist, who was a not-so-likable character. Nobody wants to work with someone like that. However, this person knows our software and domain so well that we cannot get rid of the person. Besides, his coding skills are God-gifted. They would do twice the amount of coding, but nobody wants them around. In that case, understanding that you need to devote yourself to ingenuity, but you also have to have the attitude. After all, no one likes conflict, but if I had let that fester, I might have lost a few good engineers.

Actions taken

Talk to The Person

First things first, instead of poisoning the well, I talked to the person who was creating all the issues; and by talking, I did not have the two-minute conversation. I realized that too many times, we try to tip-toe around issues to avoid conflict. However, in this case, I had to walk in their shoes for a little bit of exposure. I had to understand if it was a deep-rooted problem or a temporary one, and talk to them about the change that they needed to make from their end.

Structure Hiring Outcome

I needed to get everyone on the same page. I made sure there was a strong technical interview process for future candidates, where everyone goes through the same process. Structuring interviews with a systematic approach allowed for a smoother process and better distribution of information among teammates and managers. We all needed to communicate well enough to narrow down on something that everyone agrees to.

1-1s for Employee Engagement

At the end of the day, I did plenty of one-on-ones, but I also skipped levels while doing so. I did have managers taking care of a team, but I would still go and talk to individual developers and designers. The whole purpose of this is to understand how your team members feel about work and their team overall. If you do not hear them, who will? Create a good environment where everyone can share freely, and you can resolve issues.

Act Quickly

I have learned over the years that aptitude can be taught, but attitude can not. If after speaking with the person and working through the issues, the behavior continues, it is best to remove the person quickly. Festering of a poor attitude or lack of playing well in the team can lead to disastrous results in morale.

Lessons learned

  • Addressing problems quickly is essential in developing and maintaining a great team. It took a little bit of time for me, but never be afraid to talk to your team members about something that has arisen, which might be causing problems for everyone.
  • Point out unacceptable behavior or arrogance before it becomes too problematic. Evidently, it interferes with others who are trying to complete their duty.
  • Take remedial action. If you suspect that your team members need training, get them training. If they need help, go ahead and help them. Please get to know your team members as a person so that their problem becomes clear to you.

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John Skinner


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