A quick post this morning about building your startup team.
I sit on the board of one of our portfolio companies that is experiencing tremendous growth and they are looking for really good talent to fill several roles. I gave them my experience with recruiting/interviewing/hiring and told them that no matter how well they do, success still looks like a 50/50 proposition. You don’t really know how someone is going to work and fit into your existing team and culture until they actually have a chance to work with you over a period of time (typically ~3 months).
These 50/50 odds are really for those teams who are building true excellence into their organization. It is one of the most important jobs a CEO has to manage.
Given these odds, you are likely going to be letting alot of people go. Some know the fit isn’t there, and they move on.
But some people need to be encouraged to leave. I won’t try to cover all HR law here, but you need to make sure performance expectations are clearly spelled out and deficiencies are well documented and communicated back to the employee. That is only fair.
But there is a technique you can use to help ease people out of your organization of their own volition – it is a technique called sloping.
The idea is to let an employee know they aren’t meeting expectations and let them know where they need to be in 3 or 6 months in order to be performing at a level that will allow them to remain on the team. The difference between where they are now and where they need to get to is the slope.
Most underperforming team members realize they don’t have the skill, or the will, to get up that slope. So if you cut to the chase and offer them the option of either improving or taking an attractive exit package, the ones who will never be a fit typically take the package.
This saves you time and effort in recruiting, interviewing, and hiring the replacement. In startups, time is everything – and this sort of approach can be a competitive advantage that really helps you build a team that can win. It can spell the difference between startup success or failure.