Just as in sports, the organizations that have sustained success in business aren't the ones with superstars all trying to further their individual legacies. Rather, they are the businesses with talented role players and managers who know how to get all of their personnel to work together. Here are five ways for startups to put together a winning team.
1. Build your team before actually building your team
For starters, the principals of a startup will need to identify their own roles and how they plan to delineate responsibilities when it comes to decision making, hiring and external communications. Even if it is an equal partnership among the founders, it's impossible to sustain success if everyone is trying to do a share of each job. Once specific responsibilities are settled, the same logic should be applied to hiring a team.
There may be an impulse to hire smart people with great credentials and then sort out their responsibilities after. Don't do that. Identify very specific roles (and budget responsibilities and salaries for each of them) and seek out employees who are ideal for those tasks and have skills that can compliment each other.
2. Make sure each person understands how the entire company works
In a startup environment, which will likely have an initial staff of a dozen or fewer employees, it's important that each staffer understands how the entire business functions. Each person should have a specific job responsibility, but it will ultimately help a marketing person if he’s familiar with supply chain management and vice versa.
While established corporations can afford to have employees who only understand their individual job responsibilities, startups can't operate that way. Constant interaction and knowledge of what every element of the business is doing helps the team to recognize how their personal roles contribute to the enterprise's goals.
3. Hire people who share your passion
Launching a startup is never going to be a 9-to-5, 40-hour per week job. That goes for both the founders and for any employees who join the initial launch team. Everyone involved has to be personally invested in the success of the company, even if they haven't put up any of their own capital in it. One way to do this and attract top-caliber talent, especially if there isn't the funding to pay high salaries, is to offer some sort of stake in the company.
For a social enterprise, it’s critical that each hire not only feels passionately about making an impact, but they must also have a firm understanding of the problem the business is addressing and the solution it is working toward. If they are not passionate about the specific cause, then they likely will not be the type who will put in the long hours or deal well with obstacles, such as difficult travel or demanding investors, to make the business a success.
4. Get input from the rest of the group when it comes to adding staff
In a small team setting, one bad hire can completely disrupt the chemistry of the rest of the organization. While the founders have the ultimate say over who they add to help grow the business, the entire group will have to work with the new hire in some capacity.
After the role is determined and a number of candidates are identified, as many people as possible should meet their potential new co-workers. Someone who is looking at different things on a day-to-day basis than the founders, could have a different perspective or set of questions that could be helpful in providing insight.
5. Don't stop after assembling them
Bringing a group together is just one element of building a successful team. Even with success, building chemistry is an ongoing process. The best organizations keep engaging their employees and are frequently assessing what's working and how they can improve the way they work together.
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