How to Add Senior Management to Your Startup Without Losing Your First Team
Don't be in a hurry to hire at the top. Proceed methodically when you do.
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Adding senior managers to a growing startup is one of the most dramatic changes to make to an early stage company. Things will change and some of the original employees are likely to feel left out of the process.
Here are the six elements necessary to keep the company intact and ensure everyone is on board when you add senior management to a startup.
1. Be transparent.
When building a company during the early days, let junior and mid-level employees know that at some point in the future the organization will likely bring in senior managers. This creates realistic expectations and gives employees a vision for the company. It's also a good idea to be transparent with job candidates. Letting candidates know about the company vision and goals will better prepare new hires for future change.
Related: 5 Effective Hiring Tips for Early-Stage Startups
2. Wait as long as possible.
Many founders fall into the trap of adding senior management too early. If a founder hires executives before figuring out the business, it may burn a lot of cash and equity with the wrong kind of people in place. Instead, build a startup with a team of junior to mid-level overachievers. Once the basics are figured out, add a senior leader every three to six months until the management team is filled out.
3. Work with recruiters.
Senior-level positions are hard to fill; there are only so many people in the world who are qualified take positions like a CTO, VP of marketing, CFO or CRO. Conducting a retained search via a recruiter is often the best way to find this talent. While the cost is high (up to 50 percent of the first year salary), the cost of a bad hire is far higher. Don't scrimp when it comes to finding senior executives—work with a recruiter to build a large pipeline of candidates.
Related: The Secrets to Working With an Executive Recruiter
4. Involve the team.
After meeting with a promising candidate, have that person meet with the current team and get their feedback. Employees will offer a great perspective, especially when it comes to culture and fit. No matter how badly a founder wants to fill the role, they must listen carefully to the team and any objections they may have.
5. Don't rush the offer.
Even if a founder is excited about a prospective new hire, they should take their time in making an offer. It always pays to meet as many people as possible, even if it's believe that they've already met the right person. Also, be sure to ask around about the candidate. It's amazing what one can find out through back channels about the true nature of a person.
6. Onboard with care.
Put great effort into properly onboarding the executive after making a senior hire. While she may know the business and industry, every company has its idiosyncrasies. Just because a hire has been made doesn't mean it will stick, so stay close to the new executive, especially during the first few months.
By preparing the organization in advance and running a good hiring process, a startup can add senior executives with a minimum of disruption while maximizing growth.