Tech firm mindset to avoid like the plague
There was recently an article entitled “Silicon Valley Avoids ‘B Players’ Like the Plague” which got my attention. Go ahead and read it, it’s pretty short. Here’s the heart of the story:
And not only are companies able to achieve more with less people, they’re also wary of hiring anyone but the best engineers. This is sometimes called the “bozo factor.” The late Steve Jobs often talked about the importance of hiring nothing but “A players.”
The former Apple chief executive said to an interviewer in 1998: “You’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream. That’s what we’ve done. You can then build a team that pursues the A+ players. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”
To avoid hiring less than A players, companies can go to extremes. At Violin Memory, managers can spend up to half of their time on screening and interviewing candidates. Reference checking alone can eat up large portions of the day. Candidates typically provide three references, but hiring managers will then tap their own networks to make contact with up to five people who have worked with the person. “Your reputation follows you,” said Vice President of Marketing Matt Barletta.
First, you know it’s going to be dripping with compassion and thoughtfulness if it’s a Steve Job’s quote. Second, I’m sure those managers who spend half their day stalking candidates think they’re super productive, when all it says to me is that the more time you spend spinning your creative genius in an environment like this the better – not a good incentive in an industry that probably needs less spin and more skepticism.
Okay, so they have some nutty ideas about hiring people. You might want to consider how they go about firing people as well. From the article:
Jay Fulcher, chief executive of online video technology start-up Ooyala, says he’s “never fired someone fast enough. By the time you know that it’s time for them to go, it’s already too late.”
Ummm… okay, but maybe the work is amazing? From the article:
“It sucks people in, and it takes away from your family life,” says Vice President of Engineering Kevin Rowett. “We have to figure out, can people tolerate that level of intensity?”
Ummm… sure, okay. But maybe this is some kind of super creative environment where you’re expected to be quirky and spontaneous, and you’re not expected to follow rules? From the article (emphasis mine):
Landing a position at Kaggle, a San Francisco-based start-up that crowdsources data analysis problems, is considered such a score that the company is able to have potential candidates move to San Francisco for one to two weeks and audition for a job.
People, people. What the fuck? Are we still wondering why there aren’t enough women engineers in Silicon Valley?
Caveats: 1) the comments on that article are scathing and worth reading, and 2) this toxic mindset is also apparent in New York.