Need someone to lead product or development at your software company? I lead product and engineering teams and I'm looking for my next opportunity. Check out my resume and get in touch.

Senior roles in early stages

Freshness Warning
This blog post is over 12 years old. It's possible that the information you read below isn't current and the links no longer work.

In the early stages of a company, should you be hiring senior people or more junior individuals? Who should the first few non-founder hires be?

Ed Sim worries that early-stage startups with no product and no customers are too focused on creating an impressive-looking senior team. He says, "I have major concerns when I see SVP of this and SVP of that and I wonder to myself who is going to do all the work if everyone is a Senior VP."

Feedburner’s Dick Costolo disagrees. There’s a lot of good reasons to bring on senior people early—if they’re going to be able to get their hands dirty and do the early-stage work.

He says,

You as entrepreneur are less likely to have to play grown-up and deal with the management issues that can frequently pop-up among a largely junior staff. It’s critical in the first 12-18 months to run as fast as possible, and by bringing in experienced players that can hit the ground running, you give yourself an opportunity to get a lot accomplished quickly.

The additional advantage of this is that you’ll have an easier time finding junior people when you’re in your high growth phase. The senior people will already be on board and can stop into management and mentor roles.

Sim further suggests that if you hire senior people early on, you might have the wrong people. What if that VP of Marketing has scads of experience in marketing consumer products, but you decide to shift to enterprise software?

Costolo suggests making sure you hire flexible snior people, not specialists. Hire people with experience in multiple organizational roles, or at least people with general management experience. Hire a CTO and you’ll have trouble when you need someone to run the sales staff while you’re traveling to your first trade show. Hire a VP of Sales and you might have trouble getting payroll filled when your finance guy is out.

Costolo suggests...

You want your more experienced early hires to be as much like stem cells as possible….able to take on differing roles in the organism depending on where they’re needed if the business or market or hiring experience shifts from expectations.

Recently Written

Principles of Developer Experience: An Introduction (Sep 15)
You can create a great developer experience for everything you build. Introducing the six principles of developer experience.
The KPI that measures Product-Market Fit (Sep 9)
If you ask this question to a different small group of your users every week, you can measure trends over time to determine if you're moving toward product-market fit.
Don't use NPS to measure user happiness for enterprise software (Sep 7)
Measuring the satisfaction and enjoyment of end users is a key to unlocking product-led growth. Net Promoter Score is the wrong tool for this.
Ask One Question To Help You Reach Product-Market Fit (Sep 3)
Learn what adjacent problems you need to solve to become twice as valuable to your customers.
How to scale your product team from one product manager to an entire organization (Aug 25)
As your product management team scales, you'll have issues around redundancy, communication, and consistency. Here's now you might solve those.
Software engineering manager interview questions (Aug 6)
Here are some questions I like to use to get a sense of who an engineering manager is and how they work.
A framework for onboarding new employees (May 15)
There’s no single good way to onboard an employee that works for every role. Here's a framework for creating a process that you can adapt to each situation.
TV hosts as a guide for software managers (May 10)
Software managers can learn a lot from journalists or late night TV hosts and how they interview people.

Older...

What I'm Reading

Contact

Adam Kalsey

+1 916 600 2497

Resume

Public Key

© 1999-2020 Adam Kalsey.