Startups

Don't Underestimate the Value of Chemistry in Startup Teams

Find the right mix of people and they will carry your startup to the top.
Don't Underestimate the Value of Chemistry in Startup Teams
Image credit: Ezra Bailey | Getty Images
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If your team members’ skill sets are the backbone of your company, their chemistry is the heart. Without a heart, your startup will die -- regardless of how strong a backbone you have. Your startup will only be as successful as the team of people you hire. Ensure the longevity of your brand by prioritizing team chemistry.

Don’t underestimate the importance of good chemistry.

A group that doesn’t mesh well together will simply not be as effective as one that does. Your startup will not enjoy the same sense of intuitiveness, togetherness and innovation. In short, you will not create the same results. Chemistry is contagious. When you hire a group of people who work well together, it attracts quality people instead of those who aren’t a good fit. Take Google, for example -- the company with dozens of awards for “The Best Place to Work” hires employees who fit in with their company culture, and it continues to rise to the top.

Related: How to Hire Efficiently and Find the Right People

As the cofounders of the successful real estate startup Virgent Realty will tell you, chemistry is key to small business success. This odd couple -- 50-something-year-old Jude Rasmus, a Wall Street Journal “Top 3 Broker,” and Ben Kubic, a 20-something tech CEO graduate from Harvard -- understands the importance of getting along. Their instant chemistry, strengths in different areas and mutual respect have made their tech startup a rapidly growing success. Kubic says his decision to partner with Rasmus “came down to gut” -- a feeling I personally place high on my list of priorities when hiring.

Trusting your instincts when cultivating your startup team can be the key to small business success. Without chemistry, the abilities of each individual on your team are diminished. Good chemistry energizes your team, encourages a culture of appreciation and puts people in a position to perform well on a day-to-day basis. Bad chemistry, on the other hand, is a recipe for artificial silos, self-interest coming before what’s best for the company and resentment. When up against a deadline, if your team can’t operate well under stress, it jeopardizes your ability to achieve your business goals.

Small teams and startups feel the impact of bad or good chemistry more than large corporations. In a small startup, the actions or behaviors of one employee have more significant ramifications on the company. Large organizations often create clusters of small teams to promote company culture. Bringing such a large group of people together is nearly impossible without generating resentment or struggling with clashing ideals. Instead of trying to push hundreds or thousands of people together, large corporations can create smaller, more cohesive groups. Small businesses and startups do not have this luxury.

Related: Acing the Interview: 6 Tips for Spotting Superstar Talent

Find out what makes a good team.

Google researchers at PiLab recently launched a study with one goal -- to help business leaders form the right kinds of teams. Their previous Project Oxygen study endeavored to prove that managers don’t matter. The group’s findings actually showed the opposite -- managers do indeed make a difference. After reviewing the surprising results of Project Oxygen, PiLab decided to delve into a business’s team members. Their study will explore what makes teams great, hopefully identifying the secret ingredient to excellent team chemistry. The project is currently underway, but here are my predictions for some of things PiLab will find important for managers to keep in mind while hiring:

  • Search for shared core values. Core values are, fundamentally, the most important things to discover about the person you are interviewing. If two teammates don’t share basic core values, you can’t expect them to work seamlessly together. Core values include things like honesty, communication and work ethic.
  • Administer a profiling questionnaire. Take a page from dating sites’ playbooks and issue potential candidates a profiling questionnaire. Keep an eye on the people analytics startup, Saberr’s, brilliant tool for hiring a better team, which is currently in the development phase. Use the interviewing process to seek answers to your questions, and supplement that with Saberr’s algorithm to make accurate teammate matches.
  • Make chemistry a priority. We typically think of skill sets when assembling a startup team, but skills are neither resilient nor adaptable. Do not underestimate the value of chemistry among members of your team. When you prioritize chemistry, your team will get into a flow when things are going well. When business hits roadblocks, your team will band together to overcome them. Skills can be taught, but chemistry cannot.

Related: States With the Happiest and Unhappiest Workers (Infographic)

With these three tips, I believe you have the foundation for hiring an incredible, cohesive team. As long as your startup recognizes the importance of company culture and continues to prioritize chemistry, there’s no end to the things you can accomplish. Go with your gut, trust your instincts, and hire a team that will carry your company to success.