Search partners. Position descriptions. Compensation reports. Best Practices. Company Culture. These are just a few of the themes that fill my inbox, my ear buds, my meetings, and even more so—my mind. The common thread woven through these topics? Hiring. In my position as a Talent Partner at one of the world’s largest VC firms, I have my finger on the pulse of dozens of growing startups’ executive hiring needs at any given time; it has become not only my job but my passion to partner with these companies to help achieve their goals. The hiring process (both executive and non-executive) can be overwhelming, and the stakes are high—a bad hire can be quite costly from both a time and monetary perspective. I’ve found that simplifying and standardizing the evaluation of a candidate can be extremely effective for companies to ensure that great hiring decisions are made. Enter the scorecard.
The scorecard is a great tool to use for hiring in any role and within any function. It’s a framework for how the candidate will be assessed and is agreed upon prior to any interviewing. My best practice is to create the scorecard first and build the job description from there. A scorecard is immensely valuable because:
1. It defines the measurable outcomes for the role. Why is this person being hired?
2. It establishes the tangible and measurable accountabilities of how this hire will be successful. What will this person do?
3. It measures the competencies that are required to drive results. What does this person need to know or have experience in?
Whoever is owning the process of creating the scorecard should take it upon themselves to have buy-in from every stakeholder who will be a part of the interview process so there is clear alignment prior to the start of interviews. The goals are to prevent any misalignment during the process, for each interviewer to understand what they are assessing for, and to establish who will be involved in the hiring decision.
So, how do you build a scorecard?
First step, define the Outcomes.
These are the high-level results of how this hire will positively impact the business in about 12 to 18 months. Focus on three to four areas where this hire should move the needle based on business goals and plan. Using a VP of Marketing as an example, sample outcomes include:
1. New Customer Acquisition – Company X is generating new potential customers through multiple new channels that have been tested and launched.
a. Digital Marketing – Company X has an updated web presence and has increased the number of consumers which choose our business through this channel.
b. Direct Marketing – Our ability to evangelize and market directly to new customers via offline channels has dramatically increased. This reduces reliance on real estate agent channel, which will enhance exit value.
2. Brand Awareness – Company X has high impact and consistent brand awareness that spans every aspect of the business–from online presence to customer experience.
3. Playbook – VP of Marketing has developed a repeatable playbook for customer acquisition. This playbook includes the ability to scale and diversify the customer population within the existing market, as well as the ability to open up new market segments in a repeatable and scalable manner.
Second step, establish the tangible and measurable Accountabilities.
Accountabilities reflect the specific outcomes you want the hire to produce, further breaking them down in terms of the tangible and measurable requirements for the role. This is also the section of the scorecard in which each interviewer will rate the person (in conjunction with the competencies). The accountabilities should map to the outcomes and provide another insight into what this person will need to own and manage. In taking from the digital marketing example above, the accountabilities for outcome might look like the below. Keep in mind the accountability should be at the top, and the supporting responsibilities fleshed out underneath. Repeat this for each respective outcome.
1. Drive Digital Marketing strategy to grow web customers by [30,000] in 2019.
- Own the design, messaging, and content on Company X and all other websites to drive SEO and increase customer conversation
- Manage outside SEO/SEM vendor(s) to drive ranking on relevant search terms
- Measure and determine the effectiveness of interest marketing initiatives; allocating web marketing spend based on performance against targets
- Continually rest new sources of web leads to improve quantity and quality
Third step, clarify the measurable Competencies.
Competencies shine light on the candidate’s understanding, experience, and ability to achieve what they will be held accountable for. In each section of your scorecard, there should be competency criteria under each accountability, which is rated together. Following the digital marketing example from above, the competencies might reflect the below. I also recommend including a cultural competency section at the end of the scorecard based on your company values.
Competencies needed to Drive Digital Marketing strategy to grow web customers by [30,000] in 2019.
- Thorough understanding of and experience in managing key internet performance marketing metrics
- Experience managing and overseeing a broad spectrum of B2C programs, including (but not limited to) social media marketing, social networking, retargeting campaigns, etc.
- Ability to effectively manage outside vendors, including selection, negotiating terms, etc.
When complete, you will have created a document in which each interviewer will understand how to interview a candidate based on the skills needed, how success will be measured, and how their work will impact the goals of the business. In my experience, the little bit of extra effort required to implement and utilize a scorecard often pays back in dividends as it influences a better candidate experience, and ultimately a smooth onboarding for whoever is hired since they enter the role with a clear direction of how they will drive results for the company.