I almost lost a potential hire today because of a miscommunication between the designer and the business development team during the negotiation process. But what was intriguing about the episode today was that I never had problems in hiring, and leading a team of designers and engineers. And I think I know why -- I am a Venusian.

When an engineer meets a salesman

Designer R is a designer from Surabaya, Indonesia, who has passed my hiring test and is on the last stage of the employment process. However, because I am not Indonesian and because of my Singaporean bias, I was asked to let a local Indonesian director manage the salary negotiation so I do not overpay.

The director in charge of sales who has historically been a people's person was put in charge of salary negotiation.

What transpired was an episode by which the sales director negotiated the pay package by stating that a fair package will be a market rate. Inevitably, the sales director began comparing. That was when the designer got incredibly insulted and it seemed like I was going to lose a design hire.

The designer is Indonesian so the English is a little broken

The currency for engineers and creatives is respect.

As a programmer, I worship Bill Gates, John Carmack, and Linus Torvards. They were my earliest heroes, and they were god-like programmers first, great businessmen second. They gained success in their career because they were focused on building the best software in their class -- Windows, Doom, and Linux, respectively.

And I will be more than honored to have a chance to talk to them. The same way a programmer or a designer will be more than happy to sit down and get to know you if you are a come to the discussion table decked out with technical achievements. The currency for us engineers and programmers is respect.

It is also why most engineers will choose to work in a company which respects the engineering culture than a place that pays well.

The currency for sales and marketing people's are numbers.

The sales and marketing people are a whole different breed of beast. The medium for sales and marketing people are people, and the result they demand must be quantifiable. It is all about the numbers.

  • How much did you pull in?
  • What is the conversion rate?
  • How much do you make?
  • What is the ticket size?

This is why when you talk to a person from the sales or marketing team, the discussion often always lead down a rabbit hole of number comparison.

How to hire a programmer/designer

Get a technical person to talk to them.

  1. Your offer is a form of signaling of your level of respect for your engineer's worth, so if you are underpaying because you really cannot pay better, tell them. They will respect honesty.
  2. Do not hire idiots. Cancer spreads.
  3. Pay well (enough).

How did the story end?

I called him back, and spoke to him as an Engineer

The first thing I did was apologise. Designer R said both Allan (our other designer) and I are good people. So what I did was

  1. To appeal for Designer R that he was joining me, and I will be the person that he will be in-charge and managing him. Not the sales team.
  2. To appeal to his senses that moving to Jakarta will not be that expensive
  3. Bought him a plane ticket to fly him from Surabaya to Jakarta for a face-to-face meeting.

It was all about respect. He will be signing a contract with me come Monday.