Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS (the humanity!) or .

Planning For Your Next Hire

I posted this over on Medium as well, which I will probably do time to time when it seems relevant. Still experimenting with what it means to have so many places to blog these days.

I was writing something else earlier today and included a bit of an aside about an idea I talk about a lot at Percolate: Thinking about the employee of today and the employee of tomorrow.

To explain, we’re growing pretty fast. We were something like 85 at the beginning of this year and we’re right around 185 now. When you’re adding two or three people a week, like we have this year, you run into some serious challenges. One of the ones that especially struck me (and always surprised me wasn’t discussed more), is how you keep people engaged/educated as you’re growing so fast. So far in December we’ve added something like 12 people. We should add another eight or so before the month is out. That means 10% of the company will be starting this month. That’s obviously great from a growth and talent perspective, but it’s a bit of a pain when you consider that anyone who started in December missed everything that happened in November. That included an offsite, lots of product additions, and a bevy of other new ideas, processes, documents, and lots of other stuff.

How you keep an ever-expanding employee-based abreast of what the company does seems like one of the most important questions of company culture that isn’t really ever asked. Every time you send an email outlining a new idea or process you need to think about how the people that don’t work at the company yet are going to learn about it. That could mean it becomes part of training materials, is presented in a meeting to new hires, or (best of all) is coded into a product you use.

I suspect (though can’t prove), that ultimately this is one of the big things that kills companies operating at high growth. If you don’t keep this in mind you can’t possibly keep the culture feeling cohesive, and without that it’s quite hard to understand how you keep people and the company aligned around a shared mission and vision.

And in the end, that’s really what culture is all about.

If you want to learn more about the Percolate culture, we’ve written about it quite a bit over at our blog.

December 10, 2014

Comments

  • Ben Young says:

    I couldn’t agree more, I remember around 2007 reading that Google were adding 1000 people a quarter?! It blew my mind, how do you onboard that many people, and then in the next quarter that 1000 are mainly interacting with those that have only just joined. Like you guys a strong culture helps anchor that but in high growth you have to be purposeful in how you bring people in to the fold. We do something which is a series of coffees, in you first month you meet with a set list of people in different functions. People can resist training manuals but love going for coffee!

  • martin bihl says:

    fun fact: a few years back i was doing a piece on the CIA and their culture, and they told me that most of their employees started after 9/11 – and that one of the things they spent a lot of time on was educating employees about the culture, making sure everyone knew the stories, the history, etc., to keep it cohesive.

  • Eric Nehrlich says:

    I think about this a lot. I joined Google in 2008, after it was already a big company (20,000 people), but it’s gotten so much bigger since then (50k+ now). And the vast majority of employees joined after it was already a world-beating behemoth, so they don’t know what it means to struggle for a company’s survival (I worked at several startups before joining Google, including one that went bankrupt). The entitlement and contentment I see around me drives me nuts sometimes. The old-timers get it, since they were around before Google was _Google!_, but it’s nearly impossible to replicate the sense of urgency and “all for one” attitude that one has at a startup – I hear a lot of “that’s not my job” kind of rhetoric. Anyway, yes, keeping a culture consistent as the company grows fast (Google doubled in size every year from 2004-2008) is really difficult. I think there’s something that can be done with making sure the right stories get told (e.g. Nordstrom repeating the story of the customer service agent who accepted the return of snow tires, even though Nordstrom’s doesn’t sell snow tires, to emphasize that making the customer happy was more important than being right), but I don’t know how to scale that.

  • Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Don't sweat it.