For those of you who’re not fans of American College Football, Jim Harbaugh is the head football coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines. After a successful first season, he’s about to head into his second season as the head coach of Michigan.
This offseason, Harbaugh had to replace his defensive coordinator. Again, for those of you who aren’t familiar with football, a defensive coordinator is an assistant coach who decides on how the team plays defense. He comes up with the schemes, calls plays, decides on personnel, etc. The reason Harbaugh had to replace his defensive coordinator this offseason was because the last coordinator, DJ Durkin, took a head coaching job at another university. He moved up the ladder.
Now, if you try and relate this back to how this would work if Harbaugh was running a software company, you’d think Durkin was a bad hire. However, I think this was actually a pretty good hire!
Why? Because you want to hire the best you can. And the best, will be ambitious. They’ll want to keep moving upwards and onwards. After a point, you may not be able to give them room to grow further under you. When that time comes, you should be happy to let them grow elsewhere, and consider it a job well done.
Harbaugh got a year out of Durkin, at the peak of Durkin’s years as a defensive coordinator. That definitely beats having someone who would’ve stuck around longer, but wasn’t as good at the job.
Harbaugh’s predecessor, Brady Hoke, was the exact opposite of this. He only wanted to hire coaches who would stick with him for the long haul. This resulted in him sticking with Al Borges as his offensive coordinator, and I don’t think you’d find anyone who’d suggest Borges was particularly good at the job. There are definitely some situations where it really helps to have people stick with you for the long run, but by and large, I don’t think most teams that build software need it.
So in summary, look to hire the best you can. Don’t worry about them out growing you. If you can get a couple of years of great work out of them, you’ve both won.