Yesterday my just-over-two-year time at Yammer came to an end. It was the best job that I've ever had, and I made a tough decision when I decided to leave. A good job will teach you how to really love what you do. Good coworkers will teach you how to do your job even better. A good culture will stay with you for the rest of your life. I'm excited to bring everything that I've learned with me on my next adventure.
I'll be starting at Getable as a Lead Engineer in a week or so. I'm excited to help increase efficiency in one of the worlds largest industries and I'm looking forward to helping the team grow as it faces new and interesting challenges.
Jump starting a company culture, product and team is a daunting task for anyone, but I think Yammer has prepared me for this role quite well. Not only have I learned how to be a better engineer, I've also learned what it takes to build a great company culture. Oscar Godson wrote about some of this in his post last week. If you haven't read that one yet, please, go read it before continuing on.
All of his points are great, but I had a few more that I wanted to add.
Don't hire anyone unless they exceed your needs
It's easy to fall into the trap of hiring people who are "good enough". Don't do this. Good enough is rarely actually good enough. For every role you fill, find someone who blows your expectations out of the water. If there are any misgivings about the candidate, pass on them. Even if only one person brings up a red flag, that likely means that they don't belong on the team.
Even your engineers are part of the product group
Most companies split their engineering teams away from their product teams. This is a mistake. Engineers will solve engineering problems before solving user problems unless they are guided by a product vision. The solution is to only hire engineers who like solving product problems.
Every engineer, designer, or support person that you hire should be able to fill the Product Manager role. This is especially necessary early in a product's lifecycle. The more passionate your product team is about your product, the better your product will be.
Technical skill is less important than you think
I think Zack Parker sums this up best:
The things that separate a great engineer from a merely adequate one are passions and goals, character and personality, not specific technical skills. It's not that skill doesn't matter; it's that skill is only one aspect of a great engineer, and it's the aspect that's easiest to change. Smart peoples' skills improve steadily with use. Personalities are much less mutable.
Never stop hiring
Once you have your founding team together, you shouldn't be looking for people to fill a role. You should be looking for people who fit your company culture, are highly skilled, and are passionate about your product. If you find someone who fits that description, hire them. Don't hesitate, it'll be good for your company.
Be transparent in your decision making process
All company communication should default to open. Any other default setting will force your employees and business units into their own walled defense systems. They'll start mistrusting each other, they'll start competing instead of working together. Your entire company needs to move as a unit, without open communication, fluid movement is impossible.
There are a few ways to achieve this, but Oscar already pointed out the best way: use Yammer.
I'm looking forward to bringing these values to Getable. If you want to work at a place like this, on a brand new product that will be highly valued by it's users, Getable is hiring.