In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about hiring senior team members.
They talk about different hiring strategies and how these strategies affect your business and the ability to achieve your businesses short and long term goals.
Outcome driven hiring is a highly productive way to align your business goals with recruitment. This comprehensive hiring strategy not only allows for better communication between teams. It also gets rid of departmental silos which can create bottlenecks within the business. One of the main benefits is that everyone within the company has a clear direction.
Tune into this week’s episode of The Startup Chat to learn about how to hire leaders for your business, how you can help them to succeed once they have come onboard and how to keep your business vision as the beacon which leads the way for your team.
Steli and Hiten’s also speak about their personal experiences and give valid and actionable tips, for paving the way to help your new hires to succeed, on the way to achieving business success.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
02:04 A new way to think of hiring for senior positions.
03:20 Reasons for traditional hiring.
03:40 Questions to ask to think differently.
04:36 What is outcome driven hiring
04:45 Hiring against outcomes aligned to the customer journey.
05:50 An example of outcome driven hiring.
07:50 How the sales team could be a good example of how to start.
11:27 Case study on hiring strategies.
11:35 How to get clarity for processes.
14:43 How to succeed when hiring senior team members.
16:10 Managing your hiring expectations.
3 Key Points:
- The best senior people come in, observe, orient themselves and then they decide what changes need to be made.
- When hiring be clear of the outcomes that you wish to accomplish with clear processes.
- You are being lazy of you think that you are going to hire someone to come in to solve all of your problems.
Steli Efti: Hi everybody, this is Steli Efti.
Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shaw.
Steli Efti: And here’s what I want to talk to you about on this episode. I am currently looking to hire a super senior head of marketing for Close. And I’ve been pinging a few people for recommendations, you know asking them if they know anybody or who they’re looking up to in terms of vital marketing leaders that I should talk to and get advice from. And a good friend of ours, Patrick from Price Intelligently, he sent me an email back that was like well you should really talk to about his outcome based kind of hiring frame work. He was saying how they had some challenges hiring some senior people and you and Marie gave him some advice that really helped him think differently about it. And he felt like I should get that advice myself. And I was like, huh, I’m curious what that advice is. And maybe I’ll just bring it up and see if we can turn it into an episode to see if other people can benefit from that conversation as well. Do you know what he’s referring to?
Hiten Shah: I do. Very, very familiar. So we went to SaaS Fest, which is Patrick Campbell, from Price Intelligently’s conference who you were talking to, and we were at … It was after the conference and Patrick, Marie, and I are good friends and there’s some stuff coming up that actually we’re gonna do together soon. Thought I should mention that since we’re talking about him and again big fan of his. He’s a pricing expert in not just SaaS but subscription businesses, which is such a big thing now. And he was just having some interesting thoughts around his team and hiring senior people. And I think I can get very philosophical about this so I am gonna spend a second on that. But it’s like when someone says to me today, ‘Hey I want to hire a senior person to do X.’ My first reaction is okay, how many senior people do you have right now? And how do you define a senior person? That’s a whole topic in itself. And this starts with my opinion, which I think we’ve shared a lot, both of us, around like I don’t think the way businesses look today, like large businesses, medium size businesses, are the way that these businesses are gonna look when your business as a smaller business, smaller start up, whatever, gets to that same place in the future. Because the world is completely different than how it used to be. And this idea of department and silos of departments and people being in marketing or being in product or being in these areas. I’m not saying they’re BS. I think there’s a ton of value of having those kind of definitions. But having it siloed so that the teams are working independently, that is where I think there is a big problem with how we think of doing business today. And so when you say I’m gonna hire somebody in marketing, and it’s gonna be a senior person, and it’s because I want to make sure we have more structure. We’re thinking strategically, and also tactically and we’re getting more organized and we’re ready to scale a team, I get all those reasons from a traditional standpoint. What I still don’t hear from most people who want to hire in those roles is, and this is what Patrick was talking about, what are the outcomes that that person is gonna drive? And is it that person? Probably not. It’s actually that team that’s gonna drive those outcomes. And then I go further and say, well look you have a company. Your company’s probably siloed in departments today even though it’s a relatively small company, what is it like 30 people now? Is that right Steli?
Steli Efti: Yeah that’s about right.
Hiten Shah: Yeah so it’s like 30 people and you’ve got departments or some kind of area of like product and engineering and marketing and sales and then a couple of executives or whatever you want to call it. But is everyone actually … Do they actually have a goal on their team? And how’s that goal aligned with the customer journey and what the customer goes through? Is it aligned? Probably not, right? So for me it’s more like in the extreme end of this and what Patrick, I think what really got him to get excited about what I was talking about is like this outcome driven process of hiring has everything to do with internally I would recommend to figure out how to have teams that have outcomes that are based on the customer journey. And then what you do is you hire against that. Instead of worrying about senior, not senior, you’re like okay now we’re running. And we’re running a certain way that is based on outcomes, that is based on goals, that is based on targets. And it’s across the company. I mean engineers are involved in this, product’s involved in this, sales is involved in this of course, marketing is involved in this. And everyone has their teams and their collaborating even across teams. But really they’re on a team and the team has to be aligned with the customer journey. I think sales is the easiest department or area of a company to make this happen. And sales is kind of organized that way but not fully because the collaboration between different areas in sales doesn’t always happen in a way to achieve an outcome or a goal. And it’s not experimentation based. It’s more like brute force hustle based in a lot of ways. And so I know that we talk about process and things like that a lot in every part of the company but I think it’s not as deliberate as aligning with the customer journey. Cause then what you would do is your marketing team is focused on a very specific goal of getting people from visiting the website to signing up for a trial or becoming a lead, depending on what you’re doing, if it’s a SaaS business. And there’s an outcome there that they’re targeting. And then your sales team is targeting an outcome from a lead to a closed customer. Then you might have the product team focused on retaining those closed customers. And that includes engineering and all this. And all of a sudden you have three teams. You might not even call them the same name that you call them today, but there’s outcome there. So that’s the easy way to flip this around. And I might not be saying anything novel to a lot of people, but the bottom line is I don’t see companies operating with an experimentation mindset. I don’t see these team collaborating within these teams, and then knowing when the other team gets affected. And how that kind of transition happens for the customer. Anyways that’s my rant on it.
Steli Efti: Alright.
Hiten Shah: And the hiring shouldn’t be about I need leadership, in my opinion. It shouldn’t be about I need a senior person. Cause I don’t know a single person who I ask that question to that can answer it until they have this kind of team structure. Cause then you might realize you don’t need a marketing lead. You need more accountability and ownership by each individual team members for the outcomes, which again a sales team is inherently is designed that way, right?
Steli Efti: Yeah, so most sales teams I’ll agree with you are much more outcome driven than some other teams might be, right? Or the outcomes are less fuzzy often times, much more obvious, easy to track, easy to stand out versus some teams you know they might have a harder time to determine what the outcomes are that they should have. And it might be harder for other people in the company to easily, visibly, have a sense for how successful is the support team versus how successful is the sales team or even the marketing team versus the sales team is sometimes much easier. But let me ask you this … That all makes total sense to me. At the same time I know we’ve been, again, we had this discussion last time. At SaaS Fest when they did the second day in Boston, they did a small group of executives that were little panels and discussions but it was really like you know very like kind of brainstorming and open discussion between just … I don’t know how many people were there, 30 people maybe, maybe less 25. Like real operators that shared very freely between each other how to solve some problems or how to approach certain ideas. And I know that one thing that you and I agree with is that when people were bringing up a company structure that’s completely flat and that doesn’t have necessarily aligned leadership in its kind of like everybody’s self directed, and everybody follows a certain process, so there’s not really anyone in the company that is leading any specific team. I know that we both in the past at least have shared that we have some doubt how effective that really is as the company grows. So in my mind I completely agree that having these silos can be … It just creates a lot of misalignment and friction, right? The more the entire company knows what every single, what everyone is trying to accomplish and how everybody’s serving the customer on their journey, on their buyer journey and then later on on their customer journey, the more effort and friction is being created. At the same time I do believe that as you … you know as we are looking as a specific example, as we are looking in marketing and we see hey we have a tiny team, amazing, they’re doing a really great job in step one, two, and three on the buyer journey there is step four to ten nobody owns and we want to hire people to do these things But then I’m asking myself, alright we can hire all these individual contributors to help the marketing team accomplish all the things we want to do in terms of serving our customers, but who is going to be the person that is guiding and helping and coaching and even hiring and onboarding all these people? I know that I don’t want to be that person and I assume, my basic assumption is that it can’t just be that … You know we can have two people in the marketing team that are amazing and they don’t need a lot of management and leadership, but can we really do it with five, can we do it with ten? So that’s hence why I’m like well instead of going and hiring very specific people to create specific outcomes maybe I should bring in some leadership that then the outcome that that leadership is supposed to do, that team lead, is to find these people, onboard them, and then help the entire grown team to act better and to drive more results and coach and support these people. How do you think about that? Do I miss the boat here or what’s your response to that?
Hiten Shah: My response to that is if there’s not someone on the team today that could manage these people to successful outcomes and the process for it, then you’re correct, you need somebody.
Steli Efti: Yeah.
Hiten Shah: But is that a marketing person? Or is that more of someone who can run across many of your teams? Or is that you or someone else in the company?
Steli Efti: Yeah, so.
Hiten Shah: Like that’s my critical question for you because it also depends on whether you’re willing to change the way the team structure is and how they operate across the company. That’s the bigger, stronger point I would make. And in Patrick’s case when I was talking to him he is responsible for a bunch of areas in his company and he wanted to reduce the stress on himself and the other managers on the team, cause there’s a few of them. And instead of looking to hire someone new, he just started changing the processes. And because of that he was able to have more clarity on how he wants to run it. See this is the other thing, we’ve talked this before where you want to run the process before you hire a senior person ideally. Cause then if the senior person comes in and changes things, if you know how this process is gonna run and you’re doing it for yourself, you’ll get a lot more clarity around what’s working and what’s not. Senior person can come in and instead of having to build process from the ground up, they can at least see what’s working and what’s not. The best senior people come in, observe, orient themselves around the whole situation, and then they decide what kind of changes are worth making and where they want to go with it. Even if they have that idea of where they want to go, they first look at what’s going on. If you have that a lot more buttoned up, or have certain principles that you and your company culturally really believe in before that person comes in, it’s gonna help them, it’s not gonna hurt them. And so I think this is a fallacy of like the senior person comes in and they change everything. And that’s how it should be.
Steli Efti: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more with you. That makes a ton of sense. And I think in our case we’ve done this in the case of like the sales and success team, where I think we quickly realized that a sales and success in our case should really be one team at this stage. And there should be the person who was leading the sales team should also be helping the success team. So these two teams should be much more aligned in how they work instead of being as separated as they were. So we made the person that was responsible for sales also lead the success team. And we’ve been going through the same exercise of asking ourselves should that expand to support as well. And I have been thinking about it and this was part of a mini discussion we had at a bar in Boston. I’ve been thinking about should that person also … Should the marketing also be part of this. And so I’ve thought about this before and I’ve seen some success with just using somebody that’s already there and kind of rethinking how these teams are separated and putting them together and seeing it’s actually they’re much more aligned in what they’re trying to accomplish. So they can all be working closer together and being led by one person. And so I need to think about this on the marketing side. I think for our marketing team we have two people that are incredible operators but they don’t want to be managers. They don’t want to be recruiting people, interviewing people, onboarding people, and managing people necessarily. And so I’m doing a lot of that work on the marketing side, but I’m doing it with a very small fraction of my time since I’m doing a bunch of other things as well. And I think that’s also a big reason why I’m thinking about bringing somebody in to work with the team we already have in place and what we’re doing, but then also helps us to hire and grow the marketing team in a much better way than I am willing to do today. So that’s kind of the frame of thinking here. But I love the points that you brought up in terms of like first, let’s first take a few steps back and think about the outcomes and the customer and buyer journey. I think what we’re trying to accomplish instead of just thinking about hey I need to hire a head of success, a head of support, a head of sales, a head of marketing, a head of product, a head of engineering. Often times it might just not be necessary or you could do it just by realigning or changing the process internally as is.
Hiten Shah: What do you mean by that?
Steli Efti: I mean just what you were saying. So instead of just thinking you can hire somebody that comes in and figures everything out, you figure things out yourself first and then you might either grow somebody internally into it or you might just have one person that now is helping two teams versus one because they’re gonna be able to do a better job. Or even when you bring in somebody senior if you’re really clear on the outcomes you want to accomplish and you already have a process in place, they can come in, observe, help, support, and then maybe expand on it.
Hiten Shah: Yeah, I love that. I wanted you to repeat that just cause it’s so important. And there’s a nuance in there of like you’re basically being lazy if you think you’re gonna hire someone and they’re gonna fix every problem you have.
Steli Efti: Yeah.
Hiten Shah: Period. Whether it’s a COO, replacing yourself as CEO, head of marketing, head of sales, any of that stuff. I have never seen the hire automatically, magically, solve the problem. I have seen great, amazing managers and leaders come into a company and change the company. I’ve absolutely seen that. But I’ve not seen these people come in and not do work. I’ve not seen these people come in and magically overnight change it. I have not seen these people come in and disrespect the organization and still be okay making it work. And what I mean by that is they look at what’s already existing. So you’re kind of a dumb ass if you go in there and say they’re gonna come in and change everything and I don’t have to worry about it. In fact it’s more of your worry when you bring someone new in and their whole goal and job is to change things. Like it’s way more of your worry because you have an existing team, you have existing people and there is gonna be a bunch of people that have some level of dissatisfaction or something come up that you’re gonna have to deal with just because there’s change happening. And as much as you and I love change every human on the planet has a lot of difficulty with change. Just in general, it’s just change. Change is something that is constant and yet something that we all struggle with all the time. And so I think this relates to this situation because if you can start some of these changes you know someone’s gonna do and you can just start, that’s gonna help you figure it out. And for me a team that is running really well is when every individual has a strong amount of ownership over what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and they have a very clear idea of what the goal is and their ability to contribute towards that goal. And if you don’t have that on your teams or in your companies, you need to think twice about how you’re operating.
Steli Efti: I love it. Alright I think that’s it for this episode. We’ll wrap it up on this super crucial piece of wisdom. If anyone out there is thinking about, growing the team, hiring senior people, and you’ve been impacted by this episode and you now have even more questions than you had before you started listening to us, reach out. We always love to hear from. Ping at firstname.lastname@example.org and myself at email@example.com. We’d love to hear your experiences, your experiments, your lessons learned, your failures and successes and I think that’s it from us for this episode. We’ll hear you soon.
Hiten Shah: Cheers