Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Critical Path" Roles

During an enlightening conversation with another Boulder entrepreneur yesterday we had a short side conversation that concisely exemplified a concept we're all familiar with, but often get wrong when hiring. In my mind, at the highest level of role characteristics abstraction there are two categories of positions, "critical path" and not. 

When evaluating candidates for a given role, you should squarely understand whether or not that role is "critical path," and subsequently whether or not a candidate matches that characteristic. You may be at a stage where all of your open positions are critical path, none are, or somewhere in-between. Bringing someone into a critical path position, who is great at, and wants to be in, critical path roles is a win-win. A mismatch in that headset however will break and neither you, nor the person you hired will be happy.

I'm sure you can call "critical path" many other things, and swap it out with other requirements like "leadership position" (or not), "management position" (or not), "individual contributor" (or not), etc. The point is that you've got to spend time clearly understanding the critical characteristics of a given position, and ensure there's alignment on them between you and a candidate.

Writing the job description for posting is a powerful exercise in vetting what it is you want/need, but I also ask myself "if this person showed up tomorrow, what exactly is it that I'd expect them to be doing?" That's always a great exercise to cut through the crap you may have conjured up, and get down to brass tacks.

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