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Hiring employees from within your organization

Managing Expectations
Firing
Hiring

6 December, 2017

Satish Ramakrishnan
Satish Ramakrishnan

CTO at Pax AI

Satish talks about how he hired employees who were going to be let go from another team, despite the employees not having experience with the technologies he was looking to hire for.

Problem

There was a team at Polaris Wireless that I was hiring people for. Around the same time as this was occurring, some restructuring in some other teams at my company had resulted in some team members being let go. One of these people was a very senior engineer who had worked for our company for a long time and another was an excellent developer.

Actions taken

Polaris Wireless had given the team members a few months of notice so that they could go about finding a new job. The two team members decided to approach me to ask if I could offer them a role. However, while I did have something that I need people to work on, I was looking for people with experience with technologies that they hadn't worked on.

The team members said they were willing to learn about the technologies, so I went to my boss and asked him what he wanted me to do. He told me that it was up to me, but that he didn't want the quality or the project timeline to be affected by the decision. I decided to give them this piece of work, as it was a win-win situation. They were still on our payroll for a few more months, and I was still trying to hire, so there was no guarantee of when I would find the right person for the job.

I decided to continue to look for people, while being conservative in hiring. This was because I wanted to give the two team members a chance to prove themselves. However, it was a little difficult, as I knew I couldn't give them the work that I could give a newly hired expert to do. I was very open with the staff members, telling them that they had two months to prove themselves, and that they didn't have any guarantee of having a job in our team at the end. I encouraged them to continue looking for a job, but also encouraged them to spend as much time as they could learning about the technologies they were working on.

The two team members ended up proving themselves. They became great developers for the technologies. Knowledge of a technology shouldn't be your main consideration. It's really a person's aptitude and attitude that really makes a difference.

Lessons learned

It wasn't easy to absorb people who didn't have a knowledge of the technologies I wanted them to have a knowledge of. However, you should be willing to give people a chance, as people are often able to do amazing things if they are smart and willing. This was also a great win for my company, and for our management team, as it prevented the company from having to let go of valued staff members.

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