Charity Majors @mipsytipsy CTO @honeycombio, ex-Parse, Facebook, Linden Lab; cowrote Database Reliability Engineering; loves whiskey, rainbows. I test in production and so do you. 🌈🖤 Oct. 20, 2019 3 min read

Great question. We care far more about cultural add than cultural fit. I can remember lots of conversations like "wouldn't it be cool to add someone who (is or does X), can we support/accommodate that?"

Time zones are the main area where we express concern over cultural fit.

Actually that's not quite true. I can think of a couple others.

Like communication style. We have a fairly "light touch" culture -- you don't need to bulldoze to be heard. Sometimes a candidate's volume dial is set permanently to 11, and we worry this may be hard to unlearn.

But cultural differences and variety generally make us feel excited, not threatened.

We don't have the kind of high performing team that is achieved through homogeneity. Never have.

The first two hires Cyen and I (workaholic night owls) ever made were both parents who needed to leave every day by 4 or 5 pm, and frequently worked from home.

We were super self conscious about setting a precedent that showed we value family and real life.

Our interview process also selects for emotional intelligence and self awareness, as well as communication skills.

We like to ask how people prefer to receive both positive and negative feedback, for example. (People who are stumped by this are probably not a good fit.)

I worry that I'm making honeycomb sound like a paradise. It is not. We have a very *different* collection of weak points and failure modes than the average silly valley startup, but we absolutely have our fair share.

For example, we are great for highly autonomous senior contributors with a clear sense of what they want to achieve. No one will throw up silly roadblocks or tell you to stay in your lane. But if you need or want more structure, well...that has been a long, evolving struggle.

I feel bad for several good candidates who tried to join us over the past couple of years and were basically left to sink or swim amidst many conflicting signals, since *we* were still trying so hard to figure out who we were, who our customer was, and what made sense to build.

We have gotten way better about structure and process, but it's still not enough for many good folks to thrive.

I care a lot about giving folks the opportunity to participate, and it has been a surprise to me how often people just want to be clearly told what direction to go in.

I suspect working for me can be very, very frustrating to people who care more about clarity and consistency than autonomy and ownership. Which is possibly most people.

I'm trying to get better at this, but it feels very alien to me.

Honeycomb is also great for those who truly love what they do and are very self motivated and self driven. We are understanding of the ups and downs of the creative process, etc. We are good at urging people to take a break, take a vacation, rest up.

But all of my management tricks are for other high performers. I remember the first time (years ago) when I realized that I had *low* performers hearing the same message urging them to take a break, ease up, etc... when they were nowhere near meeting expectations for their role.

(This was ages ago, nothing to do with anyone at honeycomb now.). 🐝

We've gotten better at communicating a more nuanced message, and at helping people improve. But we still, as an organization, are kinda stumped by people who don't really *care* about what they do.

You can follow @mipsytipsy.


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