Most startups launch as solo businesses or with a very small staff. The environment is family-like, with employees who know each other well and understand what makes their fellow team members tick. When companies take off and find success on a larger stage, it becomes necessary to add to the team, sometimes significantly in a short period of time.
When a company is facing growth challenges, that is a positive development, but it’s crucial to handle the expansion correctly. Many entrepreneurs struggle with the prospect of adding “the right” talent, mindful of the fact that while they need to expand the team beyond the immediate circle, they’ve created a business culture that works and must be protected.
Here are five tips that can help entrepreneurs add employees without undermining the existing company culture:
1. Make sure new hires have an ownership mentality.
One of the great things about startup culture is that everyone feels they have a stake in the venture’s success. Look for new hires who speak in terms of “we,” “us” and “ours” to replicate that culture beyond the startup phase. It’s a sign of pride of ownership, a valuable quality that some employees display whether or not they have an equity stake in the company.
2. Be able to articulate the company culture.
Just as fish don’t give much thought to water, people within a positive culture may not think about it much, but when it’s time to add staff, it’s important to identify what makes the business unique and describe it to others. Name three characteristics of the company culture, and look for employees who have those qualities.
3. Attract the right talent with unique perks.
Smaller companies can sometimes offer perks that larger competitors can’t match. Think about what makes the company culture unique. Is it a healthy work/life balance? A workplace that is welcoming to pets? Greater flexibility? No formal dress code? Identify what makes the company a great place to work and communicate that to prospective employees.
4. Understand what motivates employees.
Different generations have distinct values, so what works for one group may not resonate as well with another. For example, millennial employees tend to value meritocracy rather than seniority. Many in the group are motivated by corporate social responsibility. Identify the values of the target group and make sure prospective employees know how the company lives them.
5. Have reasonable expectations.
While it’s possible to attract employees who have an ownership mindset, it’s also important to realize that no one will ever care more about the company than the owner. Adjust expectations accordingly. Employees are motivated by many things, including personal recognition. Make sure to properly motivate staff to get the best results; bottom-line growth may not be enough.
As a company grows, business owners have to face the new challenges that come with expansion. Owners can’t be everywhere all the time, so they have to become more comfortable with delegating key tasks and allowing others to make decisions.
That’s easier to do with a competent, trusted team. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that since they are very talented in one sphere, they can perform any task better than anyone else. That’s a recipe for failure. Instead, build a high-functioning workplace with a trusted circle of employees who each use their unique talents to the best of their ability. That’s the recipe for successful growth.