Douglas Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup, once said, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace”. This fundamental principle is often ignored by most startups today. Instead, they are inclined to focus on winning in the marketplace, ultimately pursuing their purpose at the cost of employee burnout, attrition and even reputational risks. Companies tend to measure success through their accumulated assets, often overlooking the value creation process, namely human capital.
Organisations must understand that great teams are formed by the journey taken together by their members. The starting point is hiring the right kind of people who are honest, driven, opinionated and bound with the company’s mission. Although an essential aspect for businesses, most startups struggle to find and retain such talent, thereby failing in the process.
I believe recruiting is one of the hardest things to get right. Here are several reasons why:
Your people define your culture
A business is nothing without a great team to propel it forward. People make a company’s culture, and its culture is what makes it a success or a failure. You could have the greatest strategy in the world, but most startups don’t stand a chance without the right work culture.
They bring your vision to life
Founders are often tasked with defining the company’s vision, values and beliefs. However, it is the team that is going to represent this vision to your stakeholders, investors and your consumers. They will ultimately make them a reality and permeate the company’s culture down the hierarchy. A good team will stand by you through testing times and serve as an anchor for the company to stay afloat.
The culture of a startup is equally essential. Hiring an innovative team starts with finding people who think differently yet align seamlessly.
You’re all in, together
The greatest investment a founder can make is hiring the right people and maintaining a culture throughout the organisation. When people align with a company’s mission and vision, they stick with it through highs and lows.
So, how does one go about ‘hiring right’?
Hiring is a lot like matchmaking! It’s about introducing people with complementary skills and contrasting personalities to the current team rather than merely getting the most qualified person for the job.
Aligning to vision
Your core team must relate to your vision and enthusiasm for pursuing the dream you’ve set for your startup. In addition, it helps to have someone with varied expertise that can help you with the many challenges that come your way. Hence, look for people who bring something new to the table that is missing within the team.
Paying attention to detail
The more attention you give to hiring your core team, the smoother the process of further recruitment. Good talent is self-motivated and doesn’t need micro-management. They can navigate the market and set the team up for success without much intervention from the founder. Thereby giving you, the founder, enough bandwidth to focus on the company’s larger goal.
Creating an innovative team with a growth mindset
Working for a startup can be as challenging as it is exciting. Hence, the right fit is someone willing to work hard, don multiple hats and contribute to faster growth. The culture of a startup is equally essential. Hiring an innovative team starts with finding people who think differently yet align seamlessly.
Being on the lookout for new expertise
For early-stage startups, founders must be actively involved in building a hiring strategy. No matter where you are and whom you interact with, it is helpful to continuously scan for talent and reach out to prospective candidates to join you and your business. Besides the regular interview process, have candid conversations with potential recruits to understand their background and fitment.
Leaders ultimately need to understand that the only constant in business is change. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to keep up with everything. However, we can work on building a lean, highly-efficient team that is willing to change as we do and will never back down from a challenge.