How to Build the Best Team for Your Startup


It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got five people or five-hundred people, great companies are driven by a great team. Sales won’t increase if you don’t have people who know how to drive them. Customer satisfaction is much less likely to happen if employees aren’t satisfied. And, of course, you’re not going to meet your goals if you don’t hire the people who can help you reach them in the first place. But building a fantastic business team goes a lot further than just choosing the right people. Here, we’re going to go into each building block and how you make a part of your employee approach from the very beginning.

Know your role

Many startups skip the step of fully defining a role. You might have an idea of what you need to get done, but that’s not strictly enough. First of all, you need to consider if that need and the actions taken to fulfill it are really enough to fill a role so that you don’t end up getting an employee that spends the majority of their time waiting around for more work to do. Define not just the actions, but have a much deeper think about the competencies and the kind of attitude best suited to the role, too.

Cast a wide net

In all likelihood, you’re going to get the most candidates from advertising your position in the different job listings available. But is that really where you’re going to get the best candidates? Not necessarily. Finding the best employees means getting a little inventive in how you look for them. There’s plenty of fresh and eager talent available at recruitment drives at places like colleges. Don’t make the mistake of thinking experience is everything, either. Sometimes it can be much easier to train a new employee to fit a role from scratch than it is to teach someone how to unlearn the methods they used to work in their previous company. On the other hand, if you need some specialist or industry knowledge, there are often recruitment agents that specifically help companies find the exact right kind of people, whether you’re looking for payroll and HR experts or other kinds.

Dig a little deeper

Finding people with the right skillset and attitude to work is all well and good. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that means they’re a fit for the company. You should have standards for your business, and make sure you dig a little deeper with methods like pre-employment background checks to make sure there are no hidden details about the employee that you would rather know. Just as important is the employee’s motivation for applying for a job in the first place. They shouldn’t just expression passion about the company. They should be in it for the cause, or because they have a dedication to their vocation. These are the people who are going to be much easier to retain.

Keep watering them

You’re rarely going to hire someone who is immediately 100% fit the role and how your company works. Everyone is going to need a little orientation. But you should go further than that. There are a lot of good reasons to create an employee development plan for every individual. For one, it fills their need for mobility in their career, making sure they never feel like they’re stuck and need to change their work environment to keep moving. Of course, then there’s the benefit of a more competent team, which shouldn’t need any more justification.

Recognize and reward

Indeed, you have to consider the needs of the team beyond the paycheck and any benefits they get. Many of the social and emotional needs are just as important to job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity as the physical need to keep their bellies full and their bills paid. A proactive approach to HR needs to include recognizing employee efforts, whether it’s through a rewards system, company awards at your yearly get-together or just knowing when to say thank you. When employees start to feel like you’re not valuing their contributions to the business, they’re not going to value their job. That’s when they become absent, whether it’s mentally or by physically moving to another company.

See the forest through the trees

A lot of the approach above has been about how you mold and treat individual employees. Your treatment of the team as individuals contributes to a better company culture, but you have to remember that this is a team you’re trying to create. A single unit comprised of many individuals. Alignment is an important factor in that. For one, making sure that everyone is clued into the overall goals of the business, whether it’s a shared project or aims that they each individually contribute to, makes them feel like they’re moving in the same direction. But building a rapport and a communicative, cooperative working relationship through team building exercises gives the team an emotional core, a sense of shared companionship that can make the workplace a much more pleasant place to be for everyone. Neglect the team, and you might help contribute to the development of some very competent individuals, but they will constantly be undermining themselves and one-another through overly competitive practices, a lack of shared responsibility, and constant attempts to foist off accountability.

Keep it candid

If a leader wants to honestly be the best they can, they have to be willing to solicit candid feedback from employees. Getting rid of the fear of reprisal of the first and most important step. Don’t use anonymous means like the suggestion box. Make it clear that the team is free to disagree and come knocking on your door if they have any reservations about a direction the business is taken or the role they’re playing at that moment. You should go even further, however, and ask them for that dissent. Ask them how you can help them at their job, what barriers they think they face, or what they would change if they were in your position. Show employees you value not just their output, but their thinking.

You can’t just take a “one and done” approach to building a team. If you think hiring the candidate that seems most impressive is going to be enough, you’re going to find your team unmotivated, stagnating, and eventually leaving for greener pastures. Find the right people, train them right, and treat them right. Then, you’ll have the right team.


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