Of Hiring, Motivation, Pay Structures & Rewards in Startup World..It’s all Fuzzy

Hiring in Startups is all fuzzy and that’s the way it is meant to be!

[Guest article by Sameer Shisodia, cofounder of Ziva and now an independent consultant.]

Attended the last Unpluggd where the topic revolved around signing up folks for startups.
And then saw this:

Amazingly, was also thinking (during a bus ride today) about why we do some things despite severe odds, or hindrances, or the need for effort and learning curves, and certain others never get done irrespective of how easy, or ‘within our scope’ they are.

What is this motivation thingy ?

As a result of all of the above, here’s some word/phrase groups to consider:

Reward, risk, compensation, appraisal, objectives, measurement, schedule, 1×1, incentive, weekly status report, stress, problems, constraints, roles, job descriptions, job, prove merit.
Dream, buy-in, belief, desire, effort, solution, honesty, freedom, fail fast and free, lateral thinking, boundlessness.

Of course one’s made to sound rosier than the other. But pause and examine which of the above are the truths caused to/by/around you.
We buy ideas, rewards, philosophies at a level we never execute those at. Its like honesty – unless you really really buy it – not as a ‘good to follow’ truth but somethings that part of you bloodstream – you’ll slip here or there in the day to day.
So the stock options stop having any connection with the product features.
And marketing to the guy who’s doing the appraisal is the be all and end all.

Would you not rather have people who were paid adequately, and then did stuff purely because they either love to, or they think its necessary to do it ? Would you rather not people have the guts, freedom, desire and authority to, say, pull the plug on something even if its 90% done if they really really get convinced it’s no good.

Of course, thats not to say that you need to let chaos reign – but if you have free, smart people, they will listen to reason. They will learn and you will learn from them. Thats an orthogonal problem to solve – but having people who’re “into it” can only help even there.

The video proves what I’ve always believed – creative, fuzzy-result-oriented work needs free minds. Don’t try and pressurize these flows – either through incentives or through disincentives. In fact, incentives usually imply measurement/observation, which implies expectations. And sometimes, things that “being discovered” need to be done without those disincentives weighing them down. If the people involved are good, and they’re really into it for belief/faith/interest/passion, something useful will evolve.

You cannot buy passion. Or creativity. Or ownership. You will surely lose it if the attempt is to coerce it using fear, however subtle.

Do not try correlating risk-reward, probation, appraisal cycles with work directly.

People need money to live, spend on nice things, secure their future. Not to work. Do that for them.
Enagage, and focus, on the usefulness, and marketability, and goal-appropriateness of the work they’re doing. Not on the carrots and the sticks that those will lead to – that’s so last-century.

[Reproduced from Sameer’s blog.]

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