Software Executive Magazine

December 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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R A P I D - G R O W T H , H I G H - P E R F O R M A N C E O R G A N I Z A T I O N M E N T A L I T Y AbacusNext isn't the only software company to offer a game room or unlimited vacation. The energy Leza- ma brings to the mass hiring events isn't meant to fool candidates. In fact, part of the self-selection process is to give candidates a crystal clear understanding of how demanding the pace of work is at the company. "The 'work smarter, not harder' cliché doesn't apply here," says Lezama. "You are going to have to work smarter, and you're going to have to work harder every day as well, because we're under a lot of pressure to perform and there's accountability on a daily basis." The office is organized by pods within departments, each with team members who have different responsi- bilities. The pods are responsible for covering the floor from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., and tech support works from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. (along with 24/7 remote support ser- vices). Pods have the autonomy to decide how to cover those hours. Some people choose to work 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. Some pods rotate the 6 a.m. shift. This flexibility to distribute work among teams is part of the business model Lezama firmly believes in, called RGHPO, short for "Rapid-Growth, High-Performance Organization." This is based on the belief that if you can train people to think fast on their feet, they'll be able to observe, act, and decide in a much quicker cycle than contemporary busi- nesses, which accelerates growth. This RGHPO mentality is why the company hires and fires fast. That doesn't mean turnover is high; it just means candidates who self-select in are also expect- ed to self-select out if they can't keep up. "The highest churn rate is in our sales department. But that's not be- cause of our methodology; that's because sales is sales is sales. People get burned out of sales," Lezama admits. Throughout the rest of the company, AbacusNext has to rehire about five out of every 50 employees. Compared to the Society For Human Resource Management's 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking report, that means Aba- cusNext is handily outperforming the 23 percent turn- over average among tech companies. "Our open house events really helped us understand how important the people factor is in this hiring process," says Lezama. "Instead of making candidates feel like we're holding them in contempt and filtering them to look only for their flaws, it's the other way around." S tion of the open house, to get candidates to self-select. Lezama tells candidates, "I will be very much a part of the process, Diana will be very much a part of the pro- cess, but primarily, you will be the decision makers as to whether or not you want to hire yourself." The day concludes with one-on-one interviews con- ducted by Lezama. Candidates are given time slots based on a lottery system (for example, Lezama might start with February birthdays, and everyone will get in a queue based on that). Those at the end of the queue are given the option to leave a preferred callback time, but candidates rarely leave. While candidates wait, they are given tours of the office, and food and drinks, and the company's game room with foosball, shuffleboard, an arcade machine, and a pinball machine is available to pass the time. When candidates are in the interview, the speed dating style is intense. Each candidate gets 5 min- utes. Sisti clocks it, and there isn't time for small talk. Just like the first part of the open house, candidates are given very little instruction. They can ask any questions or provide any information about themselves in their 5 minutes. Lezama will ask about candidates' financial goals, and what their floor is, and will tell them immedi- ately if those numbers align with the company's salary range for the position. As a rule, AbacusNext has a ze- ro-negotiation policy at the offer stage. After the personal interviews, the homework is simple: Lezama asks candidates to get back to her and, "Tell me what your personal pursuit of purpose is and how that aligns with the pursuit of our corporate goals. Get back to us with why you believe you would be a contributor." After a candidate brings that information back to the ta- ble, the rest of the process is still very fast. The candidate will come back for a brief skills test. At that point the manager doesn't have to worry about cultural fit or soft skills, because the open house has already validated that. "The technical skills we leave to the very end, because that's not difficult for us to find," says Lezama. "What's difficult for us to find is the right breed of people that incorporate well with our fast-paced corporate culture." It doesn't take longer to fill certain types of positions compared to others. The company has hired as many as 10 software engineers in a single class, which is impressive considering Glass-'s data shows it takes an average of 40.8 days to hire developers. While candidates are completing takeaway assign- ments and being screened for hard skills, Sisti and her team partner with third parties to speed up background and reference checks. She does review resumes and ver- ify employment histories. AbacusNext's hiring system is still thorough and it's still selective; it's just conducted in an accelerated manner to keep pace with the company's triple-digit growth. 23 SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM DECEMBER 2017

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