Hiring a new team is not a part time job

Hiring
Scaling Team
New Manager
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

6 December, 2017

As a new Engineering Manager at Netflix, Oliver decides to spend 60 percent of his time on recruiting his team. This is against the will of his boss, who wants him to ship features instead.

Problem

When I joined Netflix as an engineering manager, I faced a surprising challenge. I arrived in a team with no team members. The previous manager of the team left, and his engineers had also decided to leave. So, I had to rebuild a team from scratch and hiring became my number one priority.

Actions taken

I knew exactly the type of profiles I was looking for and was not ready to make compromises. My criteria were:

  • people who would fit the company culture
  • people complementary with, at first mine, and then the team strengths and weaknesses I dedicated around 60 percent of my time to the hiring process, and only around 20 percent to productive actions as an individual contributor. The rest of my time was spent saying 'no' to my boss and other internal clients when they asked me to work on other projects. The hiring process took a significant time. The first hire took five months to fill! While my boss didn't take me saying 'no' very well, he now acknowledges that I did the right thing.

Lessons learned

When it comes to building a team, it is worth taking the time to hire the right person. To hire the right person, you should:

  • very clearly define the profiles you are looking for.
  • make sure that your company's management understands that this is a priority.
  • resist pressure and be willing to say no to other projects until you have a proper team.

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