We've just launched plato for individuals

🔥

login


Google Sign inLinkedIn Sign in

Don't have an account? 

When Hiring, Hyper Growth and Haste Do Not Go Hand-in-Hand

Hiring
Internal Communication
Product Team

5 December, 2018

Aseem was tasked with recruiting new PMs ASAP for the company. The deadline to hire was months in the past, and the pressure was on. Adding structure to the hiring process and communicating more within the company throughout that process turned out to be his keys to success.

Problem

The company wanted to build a world-class Product team. This meant maintaining a high bar to join the team (aka being very picky) and at the same time, bringing in enough candidates to grow the team substantially to support all the initiatives. We also wanted to maintain a lean ratio of PM to engineers. Typically consumer products have 1 PM for every ~2 - 6 engineers. Having worked with some of the best PMs, we knew that best PMs can support a lot more engineers and we were targeting closer to 1 PM per 10 engineers. Even with that, we needed to add 1-2 more PMs pronto and probably 3-5 PMs over the next year.

Actions taken

Since we only needed 1-2 PMs immediately, it didn't seem that hard a task. We added "Recruiting" as another task on our plate. The three current members of the Product team were responsible for bringing in referrals and setting up an interview slate for them. We carved out an interview process - selected internal interviewers, trained them on types of questions to ask, skills to assess, etc. There was a slow, irregular stream of candidates and none would make it through the process for one reason or another. Worst, whenever someone would be close to the end, we would lose momentum with other candidates - hoping that we have found the next member of the team. No surprise that 5 months later, we had yet to hire a single candidate. To shake things up, we changed a few things. We recognized that in the medium-term, lack of PMs is among the biggest risks for the company. We made one person (me) responsible for PM recruiting and it was treated as my top priority (even above my product responsibilities). We also setup a weekly pipeline review meeting. The rest of the Product team would still need to own specific candidates but I'm responsible for moving things forward and holding people accountable. I set up a publicly viewable hiring pipeline (aka Excel file), with a list of candidates and their internal contact/owner. At each weekly meeting, we would review pipeline and figure out next steps. Things like: Alice needs to hear more about the vision for our company, let's set up time for her to chat with one of the founders. Or Jane is interested and wants to meet rest of the team, let's invite her to our weekly happy hour. We also started tracking number of candidates at each level of the pipeline from week to week. That helped us figure out where we were losing them, where the friction was greatest and we could focus to improve that step. For example, we noticed that there was a big drop at the very end of the process. Essentially too many people had veto rights. We reworked the process to allow us to take a chance on candidates that weren't unanimously endorsed (with certain caveats). Results: Within 3 months, we had 3 candidates join full-time on the team. Ironically, the company had grown so fast that this was still not enough... but that's a story for another time.

Lessons learned

1) In a fast growing startup, you need an owner. Someone who is responsible and is held accountable by the larger org. 2) We often think about user funnel from onboarding to becoming a daily active user. Same can be applied to recruiting pipeline (or sales pipeline). Setting up a structure gives you data at each step and lets you focus on where the biggest bang for the buck is. 3) Public (within the company) review of important action items provides an enormous incentive for owners to keep on top of things and also conveys how important a particular task is.


Related stories

Hiring En Masse
31 August

Mason Mclead, CTO at Software.com, highlights all the advantages of hiring at once a group of people who have already worked together.

Hiring
Mason Mclead

Mason Mclead

CTO at Software.com

Merging a Web and Mobile Team: A Tale of Two Cultures
14 September

David La France, VP of Engineering at Kenna Security, explains how to merge two teams with different cultures, technology and operating modes.

Cross-functional collaboration
Company Culture
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Reorganization
David La France

David La France

VP Engineering at Synack

Benefits of Organizational Transparency
28 August

Anoosh Mostowfipour, Founder at ReferralsLink, recounts his experience developing and implementing operational software that helped him achieve the much-desired transparency and improve coordination and collaboration across the company.

Company Culture
Leadership
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Meetings
Anoosh Mostowfipour

Anoosh Mostowfipour

Founder at ReferralsLink

How to Ensure Company-Wide Alignment
28 August

Brad Henrickson, CTO at Scoop, discusses how he successfully introduced company-wide alignment by developing succinct communication strategies.

Internal Communication
Collaboration
Brad Henrickson

Brad Henrickson

CTO at Scoop

When First-Time Founders Become Managers
24 August

Brian Hough, CTO at Beam Dental, taps into his experience of both reporting to first-time founders and managing them.

Leadership
New Manager of Manager
Internal Communication
Brian Hough

Brian Hough

CTO at Beam Dental

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.