Rewiring your hiring process - Part 1
We know that there are two hard things in Software - cache invalidation and naming things. From my experience, there is a third hard thing, which is as hard as others. It is hiring. To be more precise, it is hiring the right person.
Before getting to the crux of this problem and discussing how we can tackle it, let's spend some time understanding why we are hiring in the first place. The lack of this understanding is where it is getting harder.
Some organizations hire people to inflate headcount and increase valuations in funding rounds. If you agree to (or do not see anything wrong with) this practice, please save your time by skipping the rest of the article.
This article discusses growing a company that genuinely focuses on growth, value creation, and sustainability rather than using artificial tactics to inflate headcount and valuations.
The best time to introduce an abstraction in a software codebase is when it needs one. If you pay close attention to the codebase, you can feel the pain of not having one. Also, after adding that new abstraction, you are well-positioned to appreciate the presence of it as you have experienced the pain of not having one!
The same applies to hiring as well. You should feel the pain of not having someone to help your organization's growth before hiring someone.
If the pain is not severe or prolonged enough, you should not hire. It's where organizations are getting derailed. Without a well-thought-out justification, most of them are hiring mindlessly.
Once you understand that you are having pain, the focus should shift to defining the pain and how you believe the new hire would solve it.
"Understanding the problem" is the first crucial step in problem-solving —writing is the best way to achieve it. The art of writing forces you to think harder and critique your assumptions. By the time you complete writing, you will have either one of the below two outcomes
Well-defined roles and responsibilities for the new hire. A set of facts that communicates that you don't need a new hire!
Both are good on their own terms. So, pick the one that makes sense to you & your organization and take the next step.
Assuming that you now have well-written roles and responsibilities, the next step is determining how the success would look for the new hire.
Amazon has a fantastic technique called "Working Backwards."
The Amazon Working Backwards method is a customer-centric process to vet needs and concepts before the creation of products or services. It involves imagining that the product or service is about to launch, writing a press release for it, and going backwards from there. - HustleBadger
Though it is a product innovation technique, we can take inspiration from it and apply it to hiring.
The "Press release" equivalent for hiring are two things The year-end self-appraisal document A written recommendation for promoting the new hire or justifying their pay hike.
Just like we are putting the "Customer first." in the "Working Backward" technique, here we are putting the "New Hire first."
Forcing you to write their annual self-appraisal document on their behalf shifts your attention to what matters and touches the bottom line.
Some organizations follow a 30-60-90 onboarding plan, but in reality, it either gets lost in a change of priorities or mostly ends up as a tactical thing that solves a temporary pain.
The written recommendation for promotion defines the new hire's career path and sets them up for success. Your organization may have a career path defined with criteria for each level. But that's a generic roadmap. We need a specific one based on the parameters and context under which the new hire will operate.
You may be thinking that it is a lot of work. Yes, it is! But failing to do it would result in even more work down the line.
If you analyze the challenges a new hire faces in your organization, it is most likely because of no clear expectation setting or lack of clarity on the outcome you expect from the new hire.
Making this upfront effort to define the success criteria by working backward will set you and the new hire in the right direction, saving a lot of time and money!
The final question would be, who would do that? The answer is simple! It is the person who demands that they need a new hire!
Now you know why you need to hire for a position and how to approach this decision. My next blog post will address how to approach the hiring process.