Startup Office Hours

Founders and team leaders, we’re here for you.

All of our former senior operators - who have been through multiple downturns - will host virtual office hours to answer your startup questions on how to respond to emerging challenges. After every session, we will summarize each question and answer below. Have an additional question? Email [email protected] with the subject line "Virtual Office Hours" and we’ll answer as soon as we can.

Go to other sessions:

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How do we build and keep an engaged hiring pipeline during this uncertain time?
  • Examine your hiring process hygiene: revamp job descriptions, where you post roles - which sites have been successful in the past?
  • Building network and connections for later - reach out to candidates who you wouldn’t normally reach out to even for roles you’re not hiring for right now. 
  • Work from home can be an advantage right now - have more casual conversations

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If we’re not hiring for a lot of roles during this time, how do we approach building those communities / networks? Is there a tactful messaging that works to keep potential candidates mindful of us?
  • Reach out and build more casual relationships with specific functions that you’ll likely hire again when things start to normalize
  • Have no agenda besides getting to know the person

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What’s a good virtual interview onsite candidate experience like?
  • Mirror in-person experience: over communicate, send interview information ahead of time (schedule, meetings links, who the interview panel is, what to expect) 
  • Check WiFi connection, make sure the hiring team and candidate are in distraction free rooms, actively suggest to candidates to adjust their lighting and positioning so they can make eye contact with the interviewer. Set them up for success
  • If during lunch, consider pre ordering for them with delivery service so they don’t have to worry about it
  • Prep hiring team and assigned interview focus area questions
  • Make sure your interview team documents feedback in a timely manner so you can keep the process tight for the candidate

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Recommended tools I should be using during this time?
  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS)- Lever, Greenhouse, Google Docs
  • Good video conference tool like Zoom or Google Hangouts
  • Everytimezone for scheduling candidates in other parts of the country or world
  • For technical hires, 
    • Coderpad - watch them code
    • Invision - white board together
    • Hackerrank - robust end-to-end application for hiring developers

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How to get comfortable hiring someone you never met in person?
  • Recognize that we hire bad matches sometimes in person too
  • Provisional hire and don’t be afraid to be clear on expectations and exit person quickly if it doesn’t work out
  • Communicate more frequently - more smaller sessions
  • Get to know them in different environments not just interviews - invite to virtual lunch, happy hour 
  • Do deeper reference checks

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What does a great onboarding process look like?
  • Begins the moment they accept
  • Announcing new team members to the company in email or Slack channels
  • Make sure they have the proper equipment - welcome package with laptop, swag, mouse, keyboard etc for working from home 
  • 30-60-90 day goals and objectives and scheduled 1-1’s with people on their team and outside so they get to know multiple people in the company

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How can you build and maintain a culture when hiring and working remotely, especially with a team coming from diverse backgrounds?
  • Do this deliberately - use tools
    • Donut, Hey Taco, Talent Show, Parent Channel on Slack, “Water Cooler” - tactically do more to create connections, all optional
    • Consider increasing frequency of All hands but shorter sessions
    • “Happiness” meter in 1:1s - ask reports to give 1-10 scale and track overtime to get a pulse on how they’re doing
  • Mental wellness
    • Check-in more frequently, not all business related
    • Remind team members to pull up and walk away from work to get a break; boundaries and making sure there is a beginning and end to the work day

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Thoughts about putting people on part time/reduced salaries to maintain cash?
  • Look at your situation and build different scenarios
  • We have to get creative and this could be an option 
  • Salary cuts in tiers (execs, managers, then ICs)
  • Unpaid vacation

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What are some different scenarios that companies can consider in maintaining talent vs. just a reduction in force (RIF)? Furlough vs. layoff?
  • It depends. Furlough is a temp layoff (option to come back), layoff is final. 
  • Furlough- not common practice in tech, usually in highly seasonal industry

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We’re dealing with RIFs, how do we keep morale high?
  • Lead with compassion- be honest, be human, be kind
  • Transparent communication on any company updates or decisions; how you arrived at the decision not just what needs to be done
  • Open forum and answer questions to reduce misinformation being spread

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Would you recommend engaging external culture consultants to support companies and teams during this transition?
  • It depends on the purpose - it can be beneficial to bring on an expert for mental or emotional wellness.
  • If you do bring someone on - make sure it is someone who has very relevant experience with the specific challenge you’re trying to solve. Bonus if they have previous experience at whatever stage your company is at too.

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What does good leadership look like at this time at every level?
  • Over communicate - keep priorities hyperclear, be a trusted source
  • Empathy and checking-in more frequently.
  • Be authentic - don’t confuse good news with people feeling good. They want honesty and transparency. That’s how people feel more certain and feel trust. Trust is earned.

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Is there such a thing as over-communication in this period?
  • No - get to know each employee. Everyone is different in how they process things or what they want to hear. Skip level check ins too (a manager's manager meets with direct reports).

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