The task at hand: brief your executives and the board on the progress you’ve made this quarter. Leaders and board members want to see what it is your team is doing, or whether and why you are or are not doing whatever is in their head. But it’s equally important to cover the topic of hiring, retaining, and ramping up engineering talent. While presenting this topic, there’s an opportunity to educate your business peers about ramp time, trade-offs regarding how you leverage certain resources, and other engineering-specific hiring discussions. In this post, we’ll discuss how to present this topic with the slide template that we recommend for this purpose.
What Your Board Needs to Know about Your Engineering Talent
The 5 Slides R&D Leaders Should Show at Board Meetings includes a slide that can be used for the purpose of presenting people and recruiting. Presenting this slide clearly will likely help address the following questions that your board members might ask during the meeting:
- How many people did we hire?
- How many people do we still need?
- Why don’t we have them yet?
- How are our new hires doing?
- If we’re waiting for X or Y people to get on-boarded before we can build Z – why is it taking so long?
- How is morale over there?
Addressing questions about your people and recruiting for your organization is not R&D-specific. Any leader of any function needs to answer this. However, there can be a special emphasis on the engineering team because the truth is, hiring for engineering can be a long, difficult, and expensive process. And if you’ve communicated well enough that engineering is a zero-sum game – that the reason you can’t build whatever shiny new product or feature is because the team is small, limited, or fully committed , the board and the business will be linking the development of that shiny new feature to your hiring progress.
R&D teams ebb and flow from a size and growth perspective, and the focus of your slide may change depending on which “mode” your team is at the moment. Teams move from growth mode, to onboarding mode, to stable mode and back again.
In growth mode, you’ll want to show your progress, and your command of the hiring process. Since it will be a while until you get your hires done, show the funnel, progress in getting there. And show how much time it consumes. It’s important for the board to remember that people on your team are not coding when they’re interviewing! This will also help drive priority, help, and empathy from others. If, for example, you’re having top of funnel problems, maybe your board or executive team knows of other companies that have recently laid engineers off, and they can find some resumes for you. When offers are accepted, it may be worth reminding that this doesn’t mean the team can deliver that new feature tomorrow.
That brings us to onboarding and ramping mode. Especially if you’ve linked hiring to the ability to build and deliver a new product or feature, it’s important to show that after hiring is done, new hires still need to ramp. Communicate this to others by showing a measure of onboarding tracking (how fully ramped are they?). Some key productivity metrics might be a good place to start.
All of this will be less important when the team is in stable mode, especially when the business is flat or during crisis times. During these times, it will be more important to show that you have a command of the morale, performance, and health of the team.
Here are some topics you can include in this slide:
- People hired this period / this year (and percentage of total needed personnel)
- High priority roles still needed for each department
- Evidence of progress toward recruiting
- For example, number of interviews (include levels of interviews; first, second, in-person vs. virtual) could get this point across
- How many new people you anticipate your team will need in the next quarter or year?
- A high-level view of how quickly or how many new hires have fully ramped
- The ways that you measure how quickly a new hire is ramping on the team
- For example: the average engineer on the team reviews X number of PRs per week, how does the new hire do?
- Culture plays a big role in the performance, retention, and recruiting for your team. Add some measure of employee satisfaction to show the board where you stand.
Engineering Metrics for Board Meetings
As your group scales, it can become difficult to aggregate all the metrics necessary to properly build a presentation like the one above. It’s important to keep a steady state of communication with your engineering managers or directors to keep a pulse on things. But there are also tools to help you automate this process. Engineering Management Platforms (EMP) like Jellyfish aggregate engineering signals with business context to give better visibility into deliverable progress, product quality, investments, and productivity of the entire org. To see an example of the insights derived from EMPs, check out our product tour.
Interested in learning more about how to present engineering metrics to the board? Check out our other blog posts: