a friend of mine ask me my thoughts on retention and hiring. I decided to post them here since it too me so long to catalyze them. Many of the ideas aren’t my own but just what I’ve read and incorporated into my management style. Not sure that there’s much you can use in here. But here are my thoughts.
As it relates to interviewing people I remember the lesson learned from the book “peopleware”. The author states that if you were hiring for a juggler for the circus what's the one thing you would want to see? Of course the answer is juggle. However, most technical people are hired without ever "juggling". Therefore, when getting down to a few candidates (normally two or three) we ask them to come in and present to the group a technical topic of their choosing. If they are a developer usually a code walkthrough is normal with a time of Q&A from the rest of the team. This does two things it allows us to see the candidate "juggle" and helps other team members have buy-in to the process. During the screening process I look for people with demonstrated drive and passion for what they do. Particular skill sets aren't the most important. Things that are most important are fit with the team, aptitude, and passion for what they do. Getting the right person and not settling is only half the battle as we all know a single good person is worth more than two mediocre people.
Once you get the right person keeping them there is key. The most important thing is to make sure they feel their work is meaningful. This is the single biggest driver to a person’s happiness in their job. You want to make sure that key people feel like they are making contribution to the both their goals and that of the organization. Much has already been written on motivation, money and recognition. I think Daniel Pink talks a lot about these ideas in “drive”. My goal is to replace some of the market norms with social norms. This kind of thing was talked about in the book “predictably irrational”. The methodology is to really get to know my employees and find out what's important to them. For example, If a guy likes to play golf I'll tell him to cut out at noon and pay for him to play golf. In turn I hope this builds loyalty to our company. I don't believe in scheduled bonuses as I think they just become an expected part of salary. I try and give unexpected project bonuses. However, the most memorable bonuses are those like the wii to the game player or the ipod to the music lover. These type of non monetary bonuses are viewed by the employee as worth more than just a check. Additionally, as a group we try and go on a few departmental outings or lunches and schedule some late night departmental game nights. Building a tightly knit team who have shared goals and meaningful work is ultimately how you retain the best talent. Make them love to come to work.
I'm building a startup called ServiceVines. I live far out from civilization and like it. I get really too excited over tech, economics, and food.