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Think twice before bringing all your old co-workers to your new job, says former Facebook exec

Protocol | Workplace

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Why you shouldn't hire your old teammates

Jay Parikh is no stranger to hiring large, highly skilled teams. The former Facebook VP spent years leading engineering and infrastructure at the company and he's now the co-CEO at cloud security company Lacework.

One of his primary focuses since joining Lacework in July has been to lead the company's growing tech team — no small feat in the time of the tech talent gap and the "Great Resignation." But Parikh is far from daunted. In fact, he's become known for his perspective on intentional hiring, especially in the "hyper-growth" phase of growing a company. Parikh spoke with Protocol about how it might seem like a good idea to bring in your former co-workers when you build a new team, but you risk importing another company's culture, which could create problems.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Why might hiring managers not want to immediately call old co-workers?

I think it's worthwhile understanding what your recruiting strategy should be. Every situation is different, right? Some situations you may show up and the team is very, very junior and you're like, great, I got a bunch of awesome junior people, but they've never seen this type of problem or these challenges or this type of scale. And then you say, well, now I need to bring in some kind of folks that are kind of tenured industry veterans that have seen some of these challenges before. They can provide that mentorship, that guidance, that playbook to a more junior team. Now, the reverse is true also … So that composition of the team is effectively what I'm trying to hone in on.

Another aspect of team composition is what are the backgrounds of the people. If you have a team and it's ten people, but there are eight people from your former company, then you've imported that culture — all the good things and all the maybe not so great things. And you've also then closed off many, many, many doors of evolving a unique culture for your company, for your team in the company, because you've now built up sort of a majority … they're less flexible, they're less open, potentially, to wildly different ways of doing things.

So I think it's important to just consider that. And it's not saying that you can't hire people that you used to work with before, but I do think that in every situation, you should be careful about how many and how rapidly you hire people from a kind of a former culture.

So what about if you're understaffed and you have pressure from people up top to hire fast? How do you slow down and still be intentional in the hiring process and not lean on who you know?

I think one is making sure you're investing in continuing to build up that sourcing. Now, with COVID, you can look for people in different locations. There are different hubs where there's great technical talent all over the world. So we're not just confined to looking for people in a couple of zip codes that are around us. We can look all around the world now and that's wonderful.

Two is making sure you're investing in people and relationships and not always thinking of it as a transaction because the best hyper-growth companies actually stay hyper-growth for years. So thinking about it not just being a "who did you hire this week?", but you're actively building up the relationships over time. There was an individual at Facebook that I was working on recruiting for three years before I convinced the person to join Facebook.

What do you do if you've already hired a bunch of people from your old workplace?

Making sure these clumps of people from these different companies have that recalibration mode where they know how to on-ramp into the company culture without overtaking it is really important. But that has to be an investment that leaders in the company make in the onboarding process … I have one thing that I talk to people about, which is, "go slow to go fast." And it's hard because in the hyper-growth phase you just want to say, "Hey, new person! Here, take all this stuff, here's your laptop, go figure it out." One of the things [co-CEO] David Hatfield and myself tell all new Lacers is go meet 50 people in the first 30 days … and that builds that social fabric.

"Go slow to go fast" is helping people get the context before they try to rip a page out of their past company and past experience and just drop it into the company. That process that may have solved a problem or challenge at a prior company may not be what's right for this company in terms of culture.

Enterprise tech is selling the hybrid workplace. Is anybody buying?

Enterprise tech promised a clear map for our hybrid work future. The reality has been a little messier. Many companies rushed to adopt new technology marketed as a solution to collaboration across locations, but the prevailing winner has yet to be decided as customers become more discerning in choosing tools for hybrid work. The promises made by enterprise tech companies have been large: productivity, collaboration and a solution to work-from-home inequities. Companies like Microsoft and Notion saw their sales and investments soar. And while the market is still booming, some are beginning to wonder whether the enterprise-tech-dependent future touted by such companies will be a reality.

Read the full story here.

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Today's tips & tools

A hybrid work future means encountering different colleagues on the various days you decide to go into the office. And with that comes varying levels of comfort with being back in the workplace. For example, while you may not mind taking off your mask at your shared desk, others might prefer to keep theirs on. Here are some tips for thinking about mask and health etiquette in our new work world.

  • As of late October, the CDC recommends that even if you are fully vaccinated, wearing a mask indoors in public spaces maximizes protection from the Delta variant and prevents possible spread of the virus. Experts say there are ways you can kindly ask a co-worker to put on a mask — no matter how awkward it may seem in the moment. Vanessa Bohns, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University, suggests in an article for HBR to come up with a couple of scripts ahead of time for asking a person to put on a mask. One tip? When asking, note that you are asking everyone so the person does not feel singled out.
  • Be aware of your company's office policies. Are there certain common areas where employees are required to wear a mask? Is there signage that can be added to make this clear for all employees present in the office?
  • Last, ask questions and communicate. Don't hesitate to ask the colleagues who sit in close proximity to you if they feel comfortable with you working without a mask at your desk. Some employees are also asking whether people prefer gestures like a handshake or an elbow bump.

Have you been 'ghosted' at work?

Ghosting is no longer relegated to your dating life. The phenomenon in which a person abruptly disappears or stops responding to communication without an explanation has entered the workplace. Managers and hiring managers alike are feeling the effects. According to a recent survey by the anonymous workplace platform Blind, a sizable number of employees said they've disappeared during hiring conversations and have even not shown up for interviews altogether. Here's what else Blind found:

  • 28% of professionals said they've skipped a job interview or ghosted a company during the hiring process.
  • About 10% of professionals have turned down a job after already signing their offer letter.
  • One out of 50 professionals reportedly quit their jobs without even telling their managers or human resources department, just in the past 18 months.
  • According to the survey, verified workers at Facebook, Indeed.com, Intuit and Uber were "more likely than other professionals Blind surveyed to quit without saying a word."

Making moves

  • Industrious, the coworking office space company, appointed former WeWork exec Craig Robinson as its new chief growth officer.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great week, see you Friday.

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