I'm the CEO of a service shop (developers). We currently have 20 employees. What are qualities that I should be looking at when hiring for an operations position to help me with day to day tasks? I'm also torn between hiring someone from the outside with experience, or promoting someone that I trust with less experience.
I have hired a few hundreds over the last 20 years, as a startup cofounder, advisor for a few startups, and as a manager at Google. I have made mistakes. I have learned a bit. I will share my personal thoughts on it.
Depends on your line of business and your talent pool. In my line of businesses, I work with products that are designed to grow exponentionally. Both as a manager and advising startups, we are planning and executing to grow 1000000x. This takes specific combination of Skills, Role Related Knowlege (RRK), and Personality.
Exponential technologies take exponentional organizations, otherwise your cost will grow linearly (or worse) with your revenue. You do not want that for a plethora of reasons. This means that while RRK is useful, by itself it can prevent a person from be willing to work himself out of a job. I will explain.
I definitely look for outstanding execution of operations, but I also look for the ability to make yourself obsolete, leveraging what a COO learns from the operations to set aggressive goals to eliminate, automate, think bigger and bigger.
In my process hire I believe:
- Hiring is full contact martial art and I believe in getting actively involved into that... After all, people is not the main thing in my business, it is the ONLY thing, since I am in a non-capital-intensive industry.
- Set very high hiring standards and do NOT negotiate them
- Related to that, create specific rubrics before going out hunting. What specifically I should look for not only in terms of RRK and experience, but how will I assess culture fit, and general cognitive abilities necessary for the person to drive transformation.
Back to your question, before looking at your internal talent pool and making decisions like should I promote or search externally, do think what the professional looks like, have that rubric, and THEN see if you have the person. The bar to promote should be as high and as unegotiable as the one you use to hire externally. Those are my two cents.