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Developing Leaders

Hiring like love, is a battle field (cheap 80s quote). The number one priority for most company in Silicon Valley right now is hiring. A number of established companies and startups are in massive growth phases. The valley has been dormant for a long time, but companies are feeling the talent crunch again. It’s creating some interesting dynamics and challenges. How do you distinguish yourself from other companies paying similar salaries? What do you talk about besides your comp, technology? What’s your culture, philosophy? Why would someone want to come to your company instead of Facebook, Zynga, LinkedIn or Google?

People choose positions and stay at them because of their relationship with their manager, the ability to have an impact and the opportunity to grow and develop. How can you help mentor future leaders and create great experiences for new employees?

It’s important to start the leadership process early. At Mozilla I was responsible for HR and recruiting where we grew from 30 to 300 in about 5 years. Not the hyper growth you see at places like Facebook, but still enough people that you have to be deliberate about assimilating, developing and creating great experiences. Actually, regardless of how fast you grow, you should be taking those factors into account. Mozilla did exceptionally well in the battle over talent, despite not having equity. We focused on culture, transparency and impact.

We’ve made big investments in interns and it’s paid off in spades. In 2007 Shawn (Wilsher) was an intern. The following summer he joined us full-time. Since then he’s gone on to take on bigger and bigger projects and mentor interns. Though he’s not a manager, he’s learning all the right behaviors around staying aligned, coordinating actions, giving praise and seeking feedback.

Shawn’s learned the value of 1:1s and the ability to run them. His intern is having a great experience where he’s being challenged and mentored. He’s learning all the important skills it takes to be a future leader so that when he joins after college he’ll be in a position to have an immediate impact.

Great experiences and solid fundamentals has helped Mozilla’s internship program grow year after year and draw some of the best and brightest from around world. People hear that. Interns, new graduates and even those with industry experience. They want to be at a place where people and their impact is the focus. Where they can come in and learn how to be more.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 30, 2010 at 3:58 am

    Great points, Dan. Interns and volunteers make excellent candidates and, often, employees. Over the period of their assignment, they test drive your work style and the work environment. And, as managers, we can scrutinize their effort and delivery. An expectation of hiring might exist, but it’s not definite and that is understood at the beginning. All the members of my team started as either Mozilla volunteers or interns.

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