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Assembling Your All-stars Team
Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”. Behind every successful startup is an all-star team, collectively working towards the same goal. Having a competent and synergized team enables your company to perform more effectively in the market. Based on research studies, not having the right team ranks among the top three reasons why startups fail. This results not only in financial damage, but also loss in employee productivity, time loss in recruitment and training of a new employee, loss in employee morale and loss in client satisfaction. Thus, selecting the right all-star team is crucial for survival and growth.
Before hiring commences, your first order of business would be to settle the things behind the scenes. This is such as setting up your business plan, defining the type of company culture you would like to have and determining the departments you will need to function in the early stage.
Considerations When Assembling Your Team
Keep in mind the following strategies when assembling your team. Firstly, is the need to get competitive. There’s a possibility that most talents are already employed. The saying “All the good ones are taken” does not only apply to the dating world. In any scenario, you have to be willing to fight for the good ones. Under some circumstances, you might need to headhunt from other companies. You need to do what it takes to get good talents.
Secondly, is the need to cede some control to the talents. At their skill level, they are not looking to be just a cog in the machine. They want to have some freedom in how they’re going to complete the objective given to them. With greater flexibility, constructive discussions can take place and new ideas can arise. Thirdly, you may face situations where the talents request for equity on top of a salary. This may be seen as a commitment and belief in your startup, likelihood of longer term commitment as well as desire to go the extra mile towards achieving team success.
The fourth factor to consider is the necessity to draw a clear line between friends and colleagues. Being a good friend does not always equate to being a good colleague. Lastly, is the need for passion and culture. Being passionate towards the job while also being aligned towards your company’s culture leads to greater career satisfaction and productivity.
Positive Traits to Look Out for
Once you have sorted out the things above, you now have to take a look at what traits you want in your team. But before picking your entire team, take some time and start evaluating your own skillsets. Realising what you can and cannot do is important because once you know what you can bring to the table, you can then proceed to assemble your all-star team to fill the competency gaps.
The most important one is to hire action-takers. Ideas don’t work themselves out. There’s a lot of hard work in turning an idea into reality. Build a team that can get the job done instead of just giving ideas. Remember to first consider the hard skills a candidate possesses. The emphasis on core competencies is important when deciding if the candidate has the ability to deal with problems quickly and efficiently. Besides that, keep in mind the picture of how you want your business to look like in the future. Your business won’t stay a startup forever, therefore when building your team, you should think of hiring candidates that could possibly lead departments in the future.
Next would be customer service. Hiring people that understand customer service is important because, in the early phase it is very likely that everyone is expected to deal with clients and end-users. Thus, it is imperative that you hire people that understand the importance of customer service. Lastly, would be to hire a diverse group. This means that you hire people with different personalities, aided through means such as job skills and competency testing as well as personality and psychological testing. With greater diversity, this brings about increased creativity, different perspectives and minimizes blind spots.
Key Capabilities Essential to Have
Beyond personality traits, you need to assess the key capabilities needed. Firstly would be local market familiarity and subject matter technical expertise. The team you recruit needs to be highly proficient in their respective areas, for their focused market and client segment as well as the core technology, product or service. Secondly would be the business strategy. You should have a detailed business strategy mapping out key factors such as internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. Thereinafter, you should draw up a set of plans and steps to execute upon. And subsequently to undertake periodic reviews of the plan as the key considerations will change over time.
Thirdly would be financial management. Cashflow and related resources can be limited during earlier stages of growth and when undertaking major projects. It is important to complement your business plans with financial resource planning, to ensure healthy cash flow and to avoid cases of liquidity shortage which will impact operational continuity. Fourthly would be manpower and talent management. Just as important as it is to attract talents, it is equally important for you to retain and upskill them to form a highly optimized, healthy and happy team. There needs to be in place policies and procedures on areas such as compensation and benefits, learning and development, as well as organisation culture.
The fifth factor to consider would be client engagement. Revenue generation is the sustaining force behind every business and it is important to have a good understanding of your clients. Through a better understanding of the motivations to purchase and decision-making process, you can use these insights to increase revenue generated per client as well as extend the engagement to new segments of clients. Next would be branding and marketing. With an increasingly saturated market where potential clients are bombarded with many marketing messages daily, it is important to stand out from the crowd or risk losing market share to industry competitors. Through improved branding and marketing plans as well as differentiating from industry peers, your startup can also capture the target audience segment more effectively.
Motivating Your Team
As an ongoing effort, it is important to keep your team motivated. The first thing you could implement at the get-go is a positive workplace culture. As mentioned, this is key in retaining talents. For example, allowing individuality greatly promotes creativity and good vibes at work.
Another way to maintain motivation is to have regular meetings. Set some time aside in a week to sit down and catch-up on the progress. This will allow your team to stay on the same page and communicate better with each other. In turn, this will increase the rapport between everyone and will also show that you care about their professional well-being. Besides regular meetings, team lunches on a weekly basis are also helpful. This helps your team regroup and relax a little. Your team will go back to work with a fresh disposition. Besides that, keeping them in the loop also helps with the team motivation as this shows you trust them. By involving them in discussions on critical matters and letting them participate in decision making, they have a clearer view of their impact on the startup and gives them more reason and motivation to help the company grow.
The next thing would be standing on the frontlines with them. When you get your hands dirty with them and do the nitty-gritty bits as well, your team will be more motivated and also have a newfound respect for you.
Finally and most importantly, repeat your vision. Do it over and over again. By reinforcing it, you ensure that there are no doubts about the ethos of the company and your team collectively believes in the company. Once your team is sold on your vision, they will naturally want to be a part of the startup’s growth and success.