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Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams

108 replies on 8 pages. Most recent reply: Apr 10, 2010 12:52 PM by Aye Thu

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Bill Pyne

Posts: 165
Nickname: billpyne
Registered: Jan, 2007

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 2:03 PM
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Just to give some perspective, Kayak's approach isn't new. My first IT job was in IBM around 1993. I was put on a staff with a special designation - I can't remember exactly what it was called. For all practical purposes, it was an in-house temp staff. IBM was not required to offer benefits and the pay was a bit below a full IBM-er: $10/hr (yup, hourly). The company could keep a person on the staff for up to 2 years before deciding on full IBM status.

Kayak seems to have a faster hire-evaluate-release loop but it's the same principle. Frankly I kind of like the idea of it being a "try out" as in youth sports. Both parties can evaluate one another in a real world environment rather than the often "silver polished" world of interviews.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 2:40 PM
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> Kayak seems to have a faster hire-evaluate-release loop
> but it's the same principle. Frankly I kind of like the
> idea of it being a "try out" as in youth sports. Both
> parties can evaluate one another in a real world
> environment rather than the often "silver polished" world
> of interviews.

Where I work we were doing contract-to-hire with a 6 month contract. The problem we had was that all of our good candidates would get snatched up by someone else before the 6-months were up.

Bill Pyne

Posts: 165
Nickname: billpyne
Registered: Jan, 2007

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 3:23 PM
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> Where I work we were doing contract-to-hire with a 6 month
> contract. The problem we had was that all of our good
> candidates would get snatched up by someone else before
> the 6-months were up.

The question is how long does it take to realize the person is good? A small software company I worked for, around 96-97, could identify a bad one within 2 weeks. How long to recognize a good one?

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 3:27 PM
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Be careful what you say about Germany. Last week the NY Times had a story about how Germany has weathered The Great Recession much better than most US jingoist proclaim.

This story sounds an awful lot like Lake Woebegon: "all the children are above average".

Matthew Passell

Posts: 6
Nickname: mpassell
Registered: Jul, 2004

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 3:42 PM
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Hi Kay,

I wanted to back up to the first comment you made, since it seems to have started the grumpy streak in this discussion. Have you had a chance to read the article on Inc.com that Paul linked to? I happen to know Paul, which does give me a different perspective, but I think even if I didn't, I would have come away from that article with a very different impression.

I've worked at several different companies and been involved with the hiring process at most of them. Some of the places were overly casual about who they hired and the results were as terrible as you'd expect. Other companies were more careful, but still made some mistakes. No matter how hard you try, no process is perfect. Just because Paul believes that you shouldn't have to live forever with such mistakes doesn't mean he would fire someone on a whim.

--Matt

> Are there really people with average and above
> intelligence who feel self confidence because a god-like
> hiring manager plays evolution by means of hiring/firing?
>
>
> I never actually worked for a sectarian, fascistoid
> company, but it would be surely an interesting experience.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 3:56 PM
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> We also test people for general brightness/speed, and for
> attitude (fun, confident, humble, ethical, kind, etc).

Do you eliminate the "humble, ethical, kind", for example? Your holier-than-thou text has none of those attributes, fur sure. Or is it required that the worker bees have those attributes, but overseers not?

So, here's a concrete problem, if you're willing. Go off to read this: http://www.simple-talk.com/sql/performance/writing-efficient-sql-set-based-speed-phreakery/

While it deals with RDBMS, SQL, and T-SQL dialect of SQL Server, detailed understanding of those isn't required to answer the problem.

The problem: Peso solved the challenge in what can be described as a non-conventional way from the point of view of the vast majority of coders let loose on relational databases; they just don't know any better. His solution is not just syntactically different from what a procedural (common) coder would do, it is semantically different because it is semantically congruent with a relational database.

Most, if not all, relationalists (humble self included) have been labeled "poisonous" when straying from common coding approaches when surrounded by common coders. What happens at Kayak? Would you eject Peso because he wasn't a "good team player"? Would you even know that a better way exists if it doesn't come from you?

Bruce Eckel

Posts: 868
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 4:06 PM
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Note that I was referring to "poisonous people" as defined here:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4216011961522818645#

That is, not just people who disagree, but those who seem to be actively destructive.

That said, I think it's pretty bad when we have to figure out "no asshole rules" and ways to get rid of poisonous people -- when it's so hard to do this that such people plague teams and companies for months or years.

What is more interesting, and why I brought the subject up, is whether we can go in the other direction. Not just figure out how to keep poisonous people from spoiling a team, but figure out how to make an exceptionally great team (the subject of numerous books recently published).

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 4:45 PM
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> That said, I think it's pretty bad when we have to figure
> out "no asshole rules" and ways to get rid of poisonous
> people -- when it's so hard to do this that such people
> plague teams and companies for months or years.

It seems to me, taken at face value, "no assholes" and "no neutrals" could be seen as conflicting ideas. The reason you end up with assholes is that they often are or appear to be high achievers. That is, they often contribute more than others as individuals but drag everyone else down. Without the "no assholes" rule, "no neutrals" takes you back to the exact issues you seem to want to avoid.

Taylor Cowan

Posts: 5
Nickname: taylorg
Registered: Nov, 2007

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 8, 2010 9:51 PM
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> The first thing I noticed was the turnout. I'm guessing
> there are thousands of programmers in San Diego, but we
> got maybe 10 people to show up. That's probably a
> condemnation of the profession...

Bruce,

I'm very interested in where you end up with your search for something exciting in our industry but I reject your assertion here. When movies do poorly, we say they are poor movies. A low turnout to this meetup does not make a condemnation of the profession. Even for enthusiasts, a waterfall to scrum story isn't really that new...and your own description lamenting a lack of interaction didn't sell me on attending, should I happen to be in the neighborhood.

Mika Salmensuu

Posts: 6
Nickname: mikas
Registered: Feb, 2010

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 9, 2010 6:52 AM
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In this case, a layoff rate of 20% to 33% means doing a pretty pretty bad job at interviewing people.
Hiding behind "finding best-of-the-best" does not change this fact.

I would never hire Paul English in my company.

Achilleas Margaritis

Posts: 674
Nickname: achilleas
Registered: Feb, 2005

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 9, 2010 7:09 AM
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I wonder how 'being fun' is defined in this context. Would I have to be an extrovert in order to be hired by Kayak?

I also wonder how 'not being poisonous' is defined as well. If I had objections to some company policy, would I be considered poisonous?

Achilleas Margaritis

Posts: 674
Nickname: achilleas
Registered: Feb, 2005

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 9, 2010 7:10 AM
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If I denied working extra hours, would that be a problem for Kayak? I really don't like being all of the day in the office. Life is not only about work.

Ravi Venkataraman

Posts: 80
Nickname: raviv
Registered: Sep, 2004

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 9, 2010 8:23 AM
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> If I denied working extra hours, would that be a problem
> for Kayak? I really don't like being all of the day in the
> office. Life is not only about work.

In the article quoted earlier, Paul English does mention that they typically work 40-45 hours a week. He also mentioned that in one case they let an employee take several months off as paid medical leave. Additionally, he mentioned that he has hardly received any calls from the co-founder after 5:00 p.m. or during weekends. That does not look like your typical slave master corporation.

Were I in the US, I would be tempted to apply for a position at Kayak. I especially like the part about software developers answering customer service calls. Makes perfect sense to me.

Bill Fink

Posts: 6
Nickname: wrfink
Registered: Jan, 2004

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 9, 2010 9:14 AM
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I started talking about team dynamic a few weeks back on my blog, http://williamfink.blogspot.com/ As of now, I have just posted about communication and egos, but will have more. Feel free to stop by and comment.

Achilleas Margaritis

Posts: 674
Nickname: achilleas
Registered: Feb, 2005

Re: Rapid Hiring & Firing to Build the Best Teams Posted: Feb 9, 2010 10:14 AM
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> > If I denied working extra hours, would that be a
> problem
> > for Kayak? I really don't like being all of the day in
> the
> > office. Life is not only about work.
>
> In the article quoted earlier, Paul English does mention
> that they typically work 40-45 hours a week. He also
> mentioned that in one case they let an employee take
> several months off as paid medical leave. Additionally, he
> mentioned that he has hardly received any calls from the
> co-founder after 5:00 p.m. or during weekends. That does
> not look like your typical slave master corporation.
>
> Were I in the US, I would be tempted to apply for a
> position at Kayak. I especially like the part about
> software developers answering customer service calls.
> Makes perfect sense to me.

45 hours a week means 5 extra hours (assuming standard 8-hour work day), which means 1 hour extra work each day. It's not something I'd like to do, unless I had some really good benefits.

Flat View: This topic has 108 replies on 8 pages [ « | 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 | » ]
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