How to Build an Executive-Level Dream Team
Free Book Preview: Unstoppable
When my co-founder and I launched our company, DivvyHQ, we faced the same hiring quandary as every other startup: We wanted only the best and brightest.
We couldn't afford weak links, so we were highly selective even then. We built a small, sharp team that helped us grow quickly. Now we’re in the fortunate position to expand our operation with another set of stellar hires. And even as our company has grown, we still need to be extremely selective in each new addition. Because no matter what stage your company is in, assembling the right team is essential to every company’s success.
Assembling the right team is essential to every company’s success.
At our company, we’ve found that our best hires share the following attributes:
Perseverance: People who have overcome adversity or held past leadership positions make great hires. They won’t quit when faced with difficult challenges, and they help motivate their colleagues. They refuse to accept failure.
Excellence: These individuals bring their A games every day. They demand excellence from themselves and others. Every day they try to be better than the last. They are competitive and have the relentless pursuit to be the best and to succeed.
Positivity: Optimism and negativity are both infectious. Positive people aren’t blind to problems, but they focus on solutions rather than obstacles. Negative people are cancerous to a company, creating more issues and dragging down the morale of the entire team.
Diversity: The best teams bring a wide range of experiences and perspectives to the table. They’re well traveled, well read and open minded. Bringing together people from different backgrounds ensures teammates will challenge one another and help the company grow.
Cultural fit: My team cares whether interviewees share our values, vision and work ethic. We seek adaptable people who thrive in fast-paced environments. A candidate might have the right credentials on paper but without those shared attributes, he or she would be wrong for us.
So how do you go about finding your ideal team? Once a company knows the type of people it’s looking to hire, it needs a plan of action. Companies can use these steps to create an efficient and productive hiring process:
Narrow the hiring strategy
Map out a growth plan and organizational chart, then hire based on gaps in the chart. DivvyHQ identifies key hiring needs according to where we want to see the company grow. As an enterprise software team, we need people with the clout to get in front of decision makers and the experience to win their business.
Leverage industry networks
Reach out to peers, mentors and former colleagues to ask for recommendations. A referral from a trusted source is a great way of vetting potential hires and streamlining the recruitment process.
Call in professionals
Recruiting agencies vet and prep candidates before they sit for interviews, which means less time wasted with people who aren’t good fits. Recruiters complement network referrals because they’re tapped into the industry and know who’s looking to make a move.
Incorporate scientifically backed, legally compliant behavioral assessments into the overall picture of a candidate. Although they represent only one aspect of a prospective hire, assessments are especially useful in evaluating people for high-level positions. We sometimes use up to six assessments when interviewing for leadership roles.
Beware of red flags
Don’t ignore those slight inconsistencies in a candidate’s work history or a gut sense that he or she isn’t right for the job. The high turnover cost, both financially and in employee morale, makes this a high-stakes decision. Don’t bring someone on board unless you’re 100 percent confident in the decision.
No company has a perfect hiring record. But by defining its culture and staying clear on how it intends to grow, a startup can attract the right people to its organization. Putting massive effort into the hiring process upfront alleviates future problems and helps startups assemble dream teams that much sooner.
Related: 6 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Bad Hire