C-Suite positions are not the kindest to VC apologists, are they?

Problem: The seven kingdoms were not comfortable with leader-apologists and neither is our real high-tech kingdom. If you want to retain your C-suite throne with your investment community, your firm needs a track record meeting engineering deliverables. As you well know, it is not an easy task, particularly when you don’t have key mission-critical technical positions filled or occupied by team members that are not fully up to meeting deliverable and timing expectations. Delayed critical hires can be your Achilles Heel.

Suppose you have a record of achieving your goals, having the right technical players that can overcome your vexing engineering issues. You can expect to be rewarded with more lucrative funding series rounds than the ones you may have expected.

On the other hand, if milestone attainment is regularly being pushed out due to inadequate staffing have you given up being a hero and resigned yourself for the time, being an apologist to your VC’s and your team?

Here’s a way to see if your recruiters have your back or are holding you back ….

Targeting & Hiring Candidates vs. Aimless Recruiting & Delayed Critical Hires

Ask your recruiters how they measure performance. If they use anything similar to the phrases listed below, they have yet to be effectively trained and held accountable for delivering timely results.

1. They Generalize: “We filled 85% of our searches”
2. They Measure Activity: “We received 110 applications on our job posting”
3. They Wait: “We are getting some good traction on our latest job posting”
4. They Justify Poor Performance: “We told you in advance that the market is tight and we are not offering top dollar or benefits”
5. Their Recruiting Performance is Tied to Their Budgets: “We are operating within our budget and forecast”

What Makes The Above Measures Dangerous to You

% of Positions Filled: The percentage of positions filled buries the status of any delayed critical hires. Low-level, easy to fill positions can make your recruiting team look like heroes. Here’s where the devil is in the detail, which either intentionally or unintentionally is not shared with you and your leadership team.
Impact: Your non-critical staff costs are escalating while your critical engineering issues remain unaddressed. This can invite a cascading series of unfavorable events which can make strategic goal attainment even more elusive.

# of Applicants: The number of applicants received on a posting does not indicate if any are qualified for the position.
Impact: There are no performance benchmarks in place to indicate the number of applicants required and estimated time to render a qualified candidate to present to the hiring manager. Also missing is how many qualified candidates presented will result (again over time) in a hire.

Post & Pray: Your firm’s recruiting strategy is depending on a qualified candidate to see a critical hire posting and apply. Do you like your firm’s success based on chance?
Impact: Your pool of candidates is based on only active candidates seeking a job change at this moment in time AND seeing your posting AND responding to the posting with a submission. There is no guarantee if any members of the “active” candidate pool will meet your key position requirements. This represents a high-risk strategy thay may not be appropriately factored into your business risk assessment.

An Opening’s Rewards Are Not Understood: Not offering top dollar or attractive benefits paints reflects a poor perception of what your firm can offer to attract the appropriate level of talented candidates.
Impact: Your recruiting team is resigned to hiring a less-than-qualified candidate and has a poor ‘pitch’ to share with prospective candidates, further degrading the quality of candidate a hiring manager will see.

Spending money doesn’t equate with performance
: The return on recruiting expenditures is not typically estimated within the recruiting community. Their fallback position to to measure themselves to the staff and expenses budgeted.
Impact: There is no warning bell shounding out the danger of the firm’s escalating cost from a delayed critical hire. Delays increase the risk of milestones not being achieved, reduced return on existing R&D staff resource costs & delayed new product releases impacting revenue. The risk of a delayed or unsatisfactory round of venture-backed financing is certainly not a pleasant experience either. All these cascading problems are due to delayed critical hires not being recognized as a serious business risk requiring attention and timely resolution.

What Would Your Life Be Like If ...

You have no delayed critical hires, providing you with an engineering team capable of resolving problems
Your firm readily met its most demanding technical milestones on time and within budget, adding strategic value recognized by your investment community
Your funding rounds retained a greater proportion of equity held by you, your leadership team, and your employees

Closely Coupling Recruiting to Strategic Objectives

Recruiters are responsible for delivering a hire to satisfy a hiring manager. But they also markedly influence whether your staff being fielded can successfully embrace and execute your executive team’s strategic objectives. How can you, with the assistance of your HR director reinforce the level of importance given to the recruiter’s role?

We recommend that you have them set a recruiter’s performance expectation shared with the hiring managers that they serve. This involves:

  • understanding the role of the hiring manager’s team in the firm’s business, becoming stronger business partners;
  • quantifying the cost of a delayed critical hire on the firm’s ability to meet strategic and financial milestones, understanding the gravity of applying more creative recruiting methods and backup plans to preserve milestone attainment;
  • absorbing the technical requirements of the projects to be undertaken, requiring stronger constructive interaction with the hiring maangers and their business needs;
  • learning how the open position will complement existing team members, creating more flexibility in establishing candidate requirements for an open position (i.e. challenging the need for extensive overlap in team skillsets);
  • determining together with the hiring manager the top 5 most critical candidate requirements, inclusive of attitude and cultural fit (reducing needs to only the most essential, thereby increasing the possible talent pool); and
  • creating candidate screening measurements to save time on the part of the hiring manager from interviewing unfit candidates

If your firm’s recruiters are not meeting the expectations listed above, your unfilled tech positions will continue to impede your firm’s engineering performance success and prevent a firm’s key milestones and strategic objectives from being achieved.

On a positive note, you can now see there is ample room for improving both time-to-hire and the quality of any candidate presented to hiring managers. It’s not too early to start setting your 2019 Fall Performance Hiring Objectives.

You can reach out to Minda Hannenberg via LinkedIn, requesting a no-obligation phone consultation. We will ask you to review your current strategic objectives that are not getting achieved because you have critical key hire positions remaining unfilled. You can view some typical root causes we’ve encountered over the years here. We’ll even assist you in estimating the cost of those delayed hires, filling out if requested any non-disclosures. Be prepared for a surprise on how it can easily be in excess of $1 million.

You are welcome to afterwards invite your CFO and HR Director to a follow-up meeting to review the million-dollar plus problem you have and how they can take a series of steps to prevent it from being an ongoing problem. Delayed critical hires needs to be understood by your management and staff across all functional areas and projects.

So, forget about apologizing to VC’s and lead your team to victory. That’s what you want, right?

Alfredo and Minda Hannenberg
Principals & Senior Recruiters
Informative People Inc.

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