Dear Mark Pincus…

By Natalie Fink – Partner, San Francisco –

Dear Mark Pincus:

I can see the tough spot you’re in: your team is shrinking, your stock value is plummeting, and morale is probably a key concern at the office.  A recruitment strategy might be the last thing on your mind…but it’s a key factor to your future.

Right now your top people are spending their weekends brushing up their resumes and talking to folks like me. Although your employee memo pointed out your focus on mobile and some insights into current growth, your remaining team is still questioning a future with Zynga.  Your recruitment strategy is vital right now as you try to hang onto your A-players and bring on industry innovators to push Zynga back to dominance. In the months to come, filling open positions will be a challenge. Unless you act now to improve your brand as an employer, you’ll waste valuable resources and lose opportunities as the time to recruit extends and open requisitions go unfilled.

What can you do right now to fix it?  What can any CEO do when he’s plagued with bad press and decreasing morale?

First – Stop the bleeding.
Incentivize people to stay on board by sharing a timeline with employees that gives them a sense of security around the next 12 months at Zynga. Create milestones and celebrate them so team members see and recognize forward progression and begin to regain confidence in the organization and their own ability to achieve. Find ways to encourage and reward employees who stay on to be a part of Zynga’s mobile innovation. You must retain the top talent, especially the dynamic leaders.  Their presence will help stabilize morale and fill holes that arise in teams.

Next – Inspire your group.
You don’t need to bribe people with perks but rather include them in the innovation.  Bring your vision to your all hands meeting and show your team what they’re about to be a part of. Inspire them and let them innovate.  Make sure your team knows that their work means something and that you believe they can bring great ideas to the company. Employees don’t leave jobs where they feel what they are doing has impact. Teams will again feel good about coming to work and word will spread amongst strong talent pools that Zynga is a place where you can make a difference.

Finally – Let the world in.
You can’t control the amount of media coverage that follows a layoff announcement but you can influence the message to potential employees.  Open up your office to interviews and show people that Zynga is still a place where leadership resides.  Host events and have engaging thought provoking conversations where everyone in your community and industry can contribute.  Don’t make it about Zynga, but rather about compelling thoughts and ideas in social gaming. You’ll create buzz and goodwill that will certainly be part of a candidate’s decision process when they evaluate an opportunity to join your team.

Zynga is not a dying company. Although you are facing a challenge to find your footing amongst a growing trend towards mobile, great people can still do great things there.   You’re still the entrepreneur that took Zynga from a startup to a $1 billion company, and there are plenty of successful executives ready to jump on board to make a difference if you show them that you’ve created fertile ground to foster their innovation. I can’t wait to find myself addicted to the next generation of mobile games created by the smart folks at Zynga. Venture well.

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