Coverage by Bhat Dittakavi of Variance.AI on “Hiring and Firing” by Jay Krishnan of THUB on 21st September 2017
Is firing bad? What is the difference between firing and lay off? How do you handle the internal conflict between firing and not firing? It is easy to postpone such decisions. But at what cost? What would be the consequence of not firing some one? Do we do hiring when we have a need or we keep hiring all the time as a process? How do you fire someone? What to say and what not to say.
Here is a talk by Jay Krishnan, CEO of T-HUB. Jay is a serial entrepreneur and he had two successful exits in USA.
I have been reading a book by Eknath Eswar on Bhagavadgita. Bhagavadgita is not about victory of good over evil. It is about “Why am I here”. Fundamental existential questions. Every question Arjuna poses is written for common man to understand. It was meant to answer existential question.
I dealt with companies of size 1 to companies of size 450 employees.
As humans our attention span is very small. No more than 6 words are needed in a sentence,
6 paragraphs in a page and 6 direct reports to a manager. A thumb rule that works.
Entrepreneur versus Employee
Maslow’s needs of heirarchy is different from Entrepreneur to employee. Take a 2×2 of Function on x axis versus organization on y.
Goal has to be in the northeast quadrant of this 2×2. Different organization with different function must be an aspiration. Jumping from level 1 in one company to level 4 in a different company is hard. Upgrade from level 1 to level 2 within the same firm is better. Noone wants to stay forever in the same company. Hence you want to be ultimately in a different company for a different function.
Got constraints and resource optimization problems. It requires hiring the right set of people and firing right set of people. Net net it shall get better.
Let us take the following axes of a cuboid.
These are three reasons why anyone leaves.
Ability of entrepreneur to differentiate himself from being a human to being a CEO is key while firing. Separate yourself as individual. Capability of letting go comes from the role you play in an organization. Letting go is tough. “No” is hard. But you have to do it. Do it fast.
Any of the below could be reason you let an employee go. Procrastination is terrible for the organization.
-Lack of functional match
My interview process
1) First 10 seconds I see whether he can thing big.
2) Next 10 minutes I see his ability to listen to me
3) Next 10 minutes about the rest.
Can he follow my dream? I want him to dream big but dream my dream.
Most shop floor guys play America football. Middle management play base ball. Senior management plays tennis. Top Management plays golf. The higher up you go, the smaller his balls get. Wrong decisions bite harder as you go up.
Look for ability to think up and think in detail.
The worst thing I have done is letting go off 100 people by standing up on a dining table. Bunch of them started yelling and swearing. This was a layoff, not firing.
As entrepreneur, let go off people faster. Delay is painful. Delay is reflection that you can’t do good as an entrepreneur.
Q) Do we empathize with people instead of firing them? We should council them.
Jay) I don’t have time, money and patience.Legal laws and compliance vary from country to country. India is more socialistic. Do it in the framework of legally what is correct. If the person comes back to you and say will work with one of the three axes, then I will consider.
A) Employability is low. Firing is taboo and not discussed in India. It is OK to have a firing conversation. Letting go is OK.
A) Firing doesn’t mean inability. It is about mismatch between what the person offers and what the company wants.
A) Don’t force people along the KPIs. Enable them to think out of box. My wife found an investment bank that cut down from 40 members to 14 and told them to give her whatever deals they have and she offered to work free of cost. She wanted to be an I-banker. She could show her appetite to that company in down time that took care of her in uptime.
I did my first startup at 22 as grad student at no money. I worked at a Taco Bell and got fired the first and last time. I worked there for free food. Library work gave me funds. My rent was taken care. Assistant ship was good as capital. One man’s need is another man’s greed.
Product DNA is about life cycle management. India an an emerging country has high contribution into GDP as services. India has the services mindset.
Q) Cost of firing?
Jay) Can you let go yourself as a founder for a month? If all is normal while you were away, then you have achieved a state of entropy. This requires processes built in advance. This is the way to gauze it. Can we do it without this person till we replace. Cost of firing is not that high.
Nothing is stand still. Look back an year and you know.
Q) Backup plan?
Ans) 30% of my time has to be hiring as entrepreneur. This is a continuous journey. Legally, you have to give 30 days. It is about rubber getting the road. Let go off the little things as you have a bigger dream.
Q) Knowing the personal front is important?
Jay) Never cross the personal line. Talk about work.
Business of business is business.
Don’t fire someone just because you don’t like him. Look for inability such as missing measures or KPIs.
Q) Difference between employee and entrepreneur?
Jay) People who dream, people who live someone else’s dream. Hunger differentiates entrepreneur from employee. Hunger to prove world wrong, hunger to innovate and hunger to make money. India it is. India is poor but we have technology and hunger and we can do it.
Give equity for hungry ones. If you can’t pay them salary, let go off equity, it shows you yo don’t have capitalistic pig thinking. It shows them you trust.
Q) How did you get hired?
Jay) I pitched my vision of thub to the board.
Job rotation is good within the teams.
Someone buys into your dream, give him an equity. You don’t want the guy take a cut from his market pay. Challenge is time you spend in looking for tight kind of people.
Q) Do you hire room fill of intelligent people?
Jay) It gets intimidating if you find very smart one. If you can look past that intimidation and have conversation, there is no looking back for you.