“You don’t build a business – You build people – and then people build your business”~ Zig Ziglar
When you are a startup founder or running a startup, you are tasked with building an amazing team that will go battle with you and dig deep trenches for long hours, every working day of the year. You will interact with these employees more than your family and some of them could even be family members! They will be the ones who help you realise your vision, but here’s the deal: It is not that simple to build an awesome team in a startup.
Finding the right team members is essential, so what are the things you need to look out for in building an A team?
“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability”~ Sir Walter Scott
In the early start-up phase, look for people who are not only good at what they do, but people who are great at lots of things. When you have only half a dozen people working for you, every hiring decision is a life and death situation. While everyone will have a specific job scope, they will also have multiple roles to perform too. Every few weeks or months, there will be different obstacles that come your way – and you will need highly flexible and self-motivated employees to tackle these problems head on with you. You will need team members who will hustle with you to keep the company going in the right direction. Your team members should also feel empowered to take things on, as needed, even though it may not be part of their job scope. If you are hiring specialists or experts in certain areas, this kind of mentality may be foreign to them. Some may think that it is not their responsibility as they do not see it in their job description. These people may be toxic to the culture of a startup.
If you have got people with the right attitude, the next thing to look out for is talent.
“It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill” ~ Wilbur Wright (American aviator)
You wouldn’t buy a new car or a new dress without trying them out. One way to test skills of new or potential hires is to have them complete a mini task or project first and pay them for it. Bring people on as freelance or contract workers first, and if you like them and their work, offer them full-time roles on your team. If things do not work out, it is much easier for everyone to end a contract than to terminate employment.
In addition, recruit people who are more than qualified for the position they are applying for. Do you remember how as a child, your parents would buy you clothes or shoes that were a size larger so that you could “grow into them”? The bottom line is that you want people who will not simply be sitting comfortably in their job scope, but those who can help the company move on to the next phase as quickly as possible. It is also not about hiring people who are overqualified for the role. It is about getting people on your team who can achieve a faster return to productivity and elevate your team. An overqualified employee could be able to share his or her skills and knowledge to other employees and raise the skills set of everyone on the team. While not every over-qualified individual will settle for lower remuneration, look for those who are interested in what you do and do not mind starting from scratch.
When you are spending 8 hours a day (or more!) with your work colleagues, it is not their experience or skills that will determine your relationship with them. In fact, it is their personalities that will help you understand how they interact and behave with others at work. While personality tests are popular during the recruitment process, you need not administer expensive tests to hire the right people. Start thinking about the personality traits of employees you want to have. For example, you might want people with empathy or drive, people who are team-players, people who are creative..etc. It is up to you. But one thing is non-negotiable: The people you hire have to be passionate for the company’s vision and mission. If you find someone who is proactive and comes to work ready to face whatever challenges arise, it will do a world of wonder for team motivation.
Consider culture fit when hiring. Having a strong company culture will turn your place of work into a place you want to be and a place you look forward to going every day. Whether you are a startup or a large organization, the people who make up your business and the culture that guides it are important to your success. What is it exactly? It is about values and habits. It is about creating a guide to what you want to be. For instance, it tells us whether to keep mum when we observe something out of the ordinary at work or whether to risk telling the boss about our opinions on the new feature of the product. We need to make decisions at work and the company culture is our guide. You and your team can choose your values. Ask your employees and figure out what they are. There is no right or wrong answer what values your startup should adopt, but you want to make sure that each value makes sense to the core nature of your business.
The number one reason why startups fail is people problems. As the popular saying goes, “hire slow and fire fast”, that one rule alone could save lots of startups. The startup journey is a tough one and can be a roller coaster ride where you can’t see the track ahead. People are the company’s assets, so get off to a bright start by hiring an A team with the right attitude, personality, talent and possess a great fit with the company culture.
We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?
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