One thing to look for when hiring or evaluating people…

November 10, 2009

I was in a meeting this morning talking to our Research Analysts who are part of the OpenView outbound team that spend time talking to the CEO’s and founders of early and expansion Stage software companies.

While they were enjoying a bagel with cream cheese or a donut from the dozen I brought in for our discussion they asked me a question… “What are you looking for from us?”

This allowed me to discuss what I think is the ultimate criteria for hiring people or evaluating their performance when you are running any company, not just an early or expansion stage software company. This criteria should be used whether you have raised growth capital from a venture capital company or not.

The one thing I look for over and above anything else is consistency of performance over time. Whether you are talking about an elite athlete, a business, or an individual member of your team, the ability to perform at a high level consistently is key. It is how companies or individuals ultimately get rewarded over time.

As an expansion stage Venture Capital firm that evaluates companies for investment of growth capital we look at over 3,000 companies before we find one that fits our metrics. One of the reasons why the numbers work that way is we are looking for consistency of growth and financial performance over time as the best indicator of future success.

I would rather have a whole team of sales reps who year in year out deliver 115% of their goal then a bunch of reps who do 150% one year and 80% the next. Or a team of developers who hit their burn-down targets every development sprint than a team that exceeds the burn-down one sprint and misses the burn-down the next. Or a customer care team that deliver high satisfaction rates every month versus a team that delivers exceptional satisfaction rates 7 months out of the year and below average satisfaction rates the remaining 5 months of the year.

As a CEO and or founder when you are looking to expand your team you should always have a clear understanding of a candidate’s track record of performance over time. This is the criteria that should be used to hire all employees not just sales reps. Whether you are hiring developers, customer care reps, marketing staff, finance or any other position you should be looking for the track record of performance as a way to weed out people who will not contribute consistently to your success.

Using this criteria will raise your success rate of hiring team members who will perform over time and help you build a great company in a shorter time period and deliver superior results in the marketplace.

All the best!


Venture Partner

<strong>George Roberts</strong> is a Venture Partner at OpenView. He enjoys partnering with companies and helping them achieve their goals through strategy, focus and operational execution. From 1990 to 2003, George spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation, most recently having served as Executive Vice President of North American Sales. While at Oracle, George was responsible for over $1 billion in revenue and more than 2,000 employees, reporting directly to the company’s CEO and Chairman, Larry Ellison.