Guest blog post – Your first hire

 “Top software developers are more productive than average software developers not by a factor of 10x or 100x or even 1,000x but by 10,000x.”

 – Nathan Myhrvold, Former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft on quality of hire.


For any hiring manager, an individual hired is a strategic decision. In a startup, this decision is strategic not only to the hiring manager but to the organization as a whole; new hires have potential for higher impact on the corporate mission, strategic goals and overall corporate objectives of a smaller organization.

There are some criteria supporting hiring decisions that can significantly improve hiring efficacy which fly in the face of traditional hiring methodologies. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, effective hiring is not about the candidate, his or her background, education, skills or years of experience. It’s about what needs to be done and who can do what needs to be done as evidenced by past accomplishments. The best predictor of future success is past success.

If we ask the question “who will win the next Masters golf tournament?” those following golf might respond with names like Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods, and they would have a relatively high probability of being right. This would have been done without the benefit of a behavioural interview, knowing the educational background of any of the players or even their experience (how many years on tour). The decision would have been made based upon the fact that each player has won major tournaments in the past. This same reasoning can be applied to hiring top performers.

Performance Profiling

Rather than work from a job description, create a Performance Profile for the position that needs to be filled. A Performance Profile is significantly more comprehensive and job-specific than a traditional job description. This process helps the hiring manager clearly articulate the position deliverables and in and of itself is a very helpful exercise. Developing a Performance Profile makes the recruiting and selection process more efficient, effective and results in a higher hit rate for successful placement.

Performance Profiling facilitates retention and top-drawer performance right out of the gate by ensuring that the successful candidate clearly understands the position deliverables and the challenges he/she will be facing. Performance Profiling methodology works for any position.

At Innovation Factory, a big part of guiding clients is making sure they have a comprehensive business plan developed. The most critical part of any business plan is to define what a company is going to accomplish, how it will be accomplished and when will it be accomplished.

A Performance Profile is very similar to a business plan, except that it relates to an individual position.

In compiling a Performance Profile, first define the deliverables for the position in terms of Performance Objectives and Enabling Objectives. Performance Objectives are those major tasks that need to be completed and Enabling Objectives are the sub-tasks that support the achievement of the Performance Objectives.

An example of a well-written Performance Objective is as follows: To achieve sustainable sales of 250 units per month by October, 2015.

Supporting this Performance Objective, Enabling Objectives could be developed to include metrics like: make 10 to 12 face-to-face decision-maker calls per week, and build a list of 500 qualified prospect companies within three months.


Once a Performance Profile has been developed, it’s advisable to cast the widest possible net to identify top talent. Make use of your own network and the networks of your support groups and organizations. Put a line item in your financial forecast for recruiting and make use of job boards like, Workopolis and Career Builder. LinkedIn and can also be goldmines of potential top-performing candidates.

Use the Performance Profile that you developed as the wording for any job ads you may post. Pass it out to your networks, indicating that you are looking to hire someone who can accomplish the Performance Objectives as evidenced by their past accomplishments, performing the same – or similar – duties.

Finally, use your Performance Profile to evaluate all candidates!


Doug Ward is with the Specialized Recruiting Group of Express Employment Professionals, a generous partner of Innovation Factory. Doug’s focus is on C-suite engagements where the performance of each executive or manager has a significant impact on organizational outcomes.


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