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There is a popular saying that “the first five employees of your company determine the success of it”. Starting up in the month of October 2015, my very first employee turned out to be “only talk”. He had stated false past experiences and even lied about his prior Cost to Company. I learnt a lesson within the first month of starting a company. That incident set me back by 2 months and I had to start looking for a CTO all over again. Here are the first few things to keep in mind.
1.Only hire when you have an immediate need, dont hire thinking you might need someone 2 months down the road.
Many startups on securing a big round of funding go on a hiring spree. However, they fail to understand that years down the line, they might face the problem of low employee efficiency. There is a saying that if you hire a candidate and dont give him/her much work for the first two months, then he/she would not be able to cope up with high pressure and deadlines when the work load increases.
Each employee should be efficient. Back in the day, efficiency was measured in terms of machine output, but in the technology sector efficiency can only be measured by employee output. You rather have a small efficient team than a large inefficient team.
2.Conduct a specific aptitude test - Conduct multiple rounds of interviews.
In the technology sector, conducting a specific aptitude test that requires the employee to perform a certain task has become very crucial. It may require him to write a piece of code, conduct a market survey or even find pitfalls in the existing product or process that he would like to change. In my experience, closely following the hiring process can tell you alot about the candidate. Like his motivation levels and problem solving capabilities.
Multiple rounds of interview should evaluate the person’s personality and should be conducted by more than 2 people in the organization to see whether he/she can match the company culture.
3.Skin in the game and opportunity cost - Senior Level
Today hiring senior talent is becoming increasingly difficult. They come at high costs and mostly flock towards this “startup culture”. In my experience, senior level management staff who would like to join an early stage business should have some form of skin in the game. It mostly should be in the form of equity. This pushes them to “walk the extra mile” and could prove to very useful. Convincing candidates about sacrificing a stable job for an unstable one, is very difficult. You often need to sell the vision, the growth opportunity and ownership of what they create. If senior level management is willing to take a hit on their salary and come work with startup, it means he sees eye to eye with the company vision and should be given the chance.
4.Be completely transparent about job responsibility
In the early days of a business founders tend to do every other menial jobs, such as generating payslips, making job posts, managing Twitter/LinkedIn accounts and sometime even conducting market surveys. Sometimes, employees could show resistance if their job profile is not made clear to them on day one. The “startup” word is by far the most abused term, and seems to be the escape route for everything. Dont expect your employees to know what’s expected of them, that should be well communicated from day 1.
5.Potential vs Experience
In my experience, I have had a girl come works with me when she was merely earning Rs.15,000 a month and within one year she is at a caliber of earning atleast Rs.70,000/month. A startup requires a mix of people who have experience and who have potential. Founders need to strike that balance when hiring candidates across departments. The candidates with potential tend to stick longer when they are provided with the right environment to hone their abilities. Candidates with experience tend to serve as mentors for employees and tend to propel the startup towards the growth stage.