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NEWSFLASH: It’s People That Make Your Startup Successful


By Goran Bogunovic, June 1, 2017

Remember when you were little and the grown-ups always underlined the importance of playing nicely with your friends and sticking together?

Since the beginning of time, man has functioned in a group and he strived towards nurturing reciprocal relationships. It was always about simultaneously supporting others and enjoying the support in return. This is perfectly natural because every individual is valuable in a different way, with a specific set of skills he or she could contribute with.

The need to be a part of a team is how we humans are hardwired as we are aware we need others to survive. Dynamics in a certain group and its synergy is what makes us work towards a common goal and they raise the chances for success significantly.

So, why should you as a startupper care about any of this?

You have your world-changing idea. You’ve researched the market and found there is a place for your product or service. You’ve taken care of all the legal paperwork for your startup, and maybe you’ve even managed to raise the initial capital. You’ve put your business online and now you have to roll up your sleeves and work on your website while building a community via social media channels.

It’s a huge success you’ve come this far and now it’s time to get the ball rolling. Without any doubt, raising a startup is not a one-man job. Yep, the people who work within your startup are the ones that ensure your business blooms.

team

What Makes a Good Team? Guys at Google Might Know the Answer

You’ve probably heard it a dozen times before: diversity can bring the best out of your team. There are even certain state legal regulations that are designed to motivate business owners to employ staff with different cultural backgrounds; not to mention gender and race must not influence whether or not a person gets the job. So, we’re talking about combating discrimination with recommended measures and creating a work atmosphere where equality will be enabled and respected. Several studies have shown that diverse teams get more creative, brainstorm more effectively and therefore – generate better ideas.

However, some people get carried away and take political correctness and the idea of diversity to the extreme, forgetting what also matters. As Percy Barnevik, former CEO of Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) said: Competence is the key selection criterion, not passport.

So, the million dollar question is: what makes a good performing team?

Guys at Google asked themselves the same question, back in 2012. They’ve launched the Project Aristotle and the first phase included researchers reviewing existing studies in an attempt to find a pattern and determine what makes a good team. And what happened?

In Silicon Valley, software engineers are encouraged to work together, in part because studies show that groups tend to innovate faster, see mistakes more quickly and find better solutions to problems.NY Times

They couldn’t find any patterns. They had tons of data but it was useless as it didn’t shape any formula of the perfect built team. But that’s when they decided to focus on a thing called “group norms”. These norms are the behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern a certain group. Most frequently, it’s a spontaneously built team culture everyone feels ok with.

In layman’s terms: just like in any healthy relationship, all team members need to feel respected, appreciated, and willing to be flexible, i.e. to compromise for a greater good. It comes down to choosing one’s battles and feeling safe to speak up. The key to a productive team is aligned social sensitivity and created space of psychological safety.

So, it’s about what one’s role is, how he or she interacts with the rest of the team, and what are his or hers core beliefs.

And what about the size of a team? It all depends on your startup’s niche and the plan of growth you have, but take in mind the wise words by the authors of “Funky Business”, Nordström and Ridderstråle:

We are creative in small teams. Maybe, the inhabitants of the Stone Age can teach us something. Back then, the average number of people in a tribe was some 40 individuals. On the African Savannah Plain 200,000 years ago, clans appeared to have had a maximum of around 150 members.

Of course, it all depends on where you’re going with your startup and how you treat it. Is it just an initial and temporary form of your business or are you satisfied with its small or mid-size?

team diversity

Founders Vs. Joiners And the Secret of Smart Hiring

Back in 2015, two business school professors Henry Sauermann of Georgia Tech and Michael Roach of Cornell Dyson School conducted a research in order to determine who can we blame for one startup’s success. The study focused on explaining the common ground of startup founders and joiners, as well as their differences.

Turns out joiners are not particularly drawn to being the boss, but they want to be a part of the  entrepreneurial process. They are interested in concrete functions and technical work, rather than management operations. Founders on the other hand, are more willing to take risks and are interested in the processes of building a company from scratch.

One of the most important questions you need to answer is:

Does the person believe in your startup’s mission and the meaning you’re trying to create?

You may be familiar with the way Steve Jobs lured John Emotional Sculley from Pepsi into Apple. He asked him if he wanted to spend the rest of his life selling sugared water, or maybe he wants a chance to change the world? The rhetoric of this business proposal is clever and daring, but Jobs knew it’s going to work. Sculley shared the passion towards making a real difference in the world, not towards sole profit.

Also, take in mind the following two questions:

  • Can the person you’re considering do what your business needs?
  • Does the candidate have the strengths you’re looking for?

In this process, there is one thing that can be incredibly damaging to your business.

Ego.

As a startupper, you might make a rookie mistake and rely completely on your intuition. While ignoring your personal hunch is not a good thing, making important business decisions solely on it is not a smart thing to do.

CEOs all around the world need to understand one important thing: in order for their startup to succeed, they have to hire a management team that is better than they are. And the management team needs to employ people who are better than it is. Modesty along with putting your business before your ego will allow people to do their jobs properly.

Assessing the abilities of candidates isn’t easy. One can easily fall into making logical fallacies. For example, mixing up correlation and causation: one person might have been a part of the successful company in the past, but you must try and observe the broader picture. Here are some questions that might help see the picture objectively:

  • What was the person’s function there?
  • Can you measure his or hers contribution to the success?
  • What were the reasons the person left the company?
  • What were the specific projects that person has worked on?

And did you know that around 56% of people lie on their resumes?

If you want to recruit A players, you have to ask for references and be savvy when checking them. Try to get as much information as you can about the candidate from several different sources (e.g. superiors, peers, and even clients). As a startupper, you might make a rookie mistake and rely completely on your intuition. While ignoring your personal hunch is not a good thing, making important business decisions solely on it is not a smart thing to do. Check references in advance, not as a confirmation of the decision you’ve already made.

team employee

Who Do You Really Need?

There are several different ideas about the profile of people you need working for your startup. For example, Guy Kawasaki thinks you need three types of people:

  • The so-called kamikazes: employees who are willing to work extremely hard and overtime for the good of the company
  • The implementers: those who work on establishing the infrastructure
  • The operators: people who enjoy doing operational work and running that infrastructure

Guy KawasakiStartups need people with diverse skills that complement, not overlap, each other. For example, a geek CEO should hire someone who has sales skills – not another engineer to handle sales.Guy Kawasaki

Bernd Schoner, author of The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide has his own vision of the key people for one’s startup that’s fun and easy to remember. Of course, it’s rather naive to search for the people that will fit into some of these categories and believe your work there is done once you find them.

Although it can be entertaining to explore these profiles, there are too many variables in each individual case. It’s best to seek for a mixture of these three things:

  • Enthusiasm and grit: according to the research by Angela Duckworth, combination of passion and perseverance can play a more important role than talent
  • Personality that fits into your startup’s culture
  • Competence and capacity to learn

Skills are important, but look at it this way: skills are learnable, while character can hardly be changed. When looking for the people for your team, make sure to pay attention to qualities apart from professional competence. These include whether or not the person cares about relationship with others, if he or she is result-oriented, what is his or hers communication style, is he or she a problem solver, a creative thinker, pragmatic, and emotionally stable.

team members

Dos And Don’ts of Interviewing a Potential A Player

As you play a role of an employer here, you might think you can put your feet up in the air and let the candidate sweat. Boy, you’re wrong. There’s hardly anything worse for your company’s reputation and for the recruitment process than a “go with the flow” interview. You need to be prepared and you need to have a concept.

Here are a few dos and don’ts that can be useful for you, so you find a person that will fit perfectly into your startup’s culture:

DO: Define your startup’s mission clearly, as well as the business vision you have. To some candidates, the meaning you’re aiming to create will be more valuable than the money you’re offering.

DON’T: Provide a salary range at the first encounter. It is too early to talk about numbers at the first interview. In addition, the figure you mention here will affect all the latter answers, for sure. If the candidate asks, try avoiding giving a clear answer. This also tells you just how profit-oriented he or she is.

DO: Be upfront about where the company currently stands. Tell it as it is. If joining a company is risky and a challenge by itself, this is basically a great way to filter out candidates.

DON’T: Lie to the candidate you’re looking to hire. The truth will come out eventually and you’ll be in a pickle.

DO: Hire people who are more talented than you.

DON’T: Worry yourself with potential disaster scenarios, such as someone taking over the company and you losing your venture. Focus on building a great organization with harmonious inter relationships.

Raising a startup is hell of a work, but with the right people – it can be a lot easier. Take in mind these pieces of advice and never take the importance of a solid team for granted.

In any case, you can count on the support of Domain.me: we are proud to stand side by side your startup and help your business grow. It all starts with a great domain name and a functional website that will present your startup’s mission effectively! Check your domain name availability here!

 


Author:

Goran Bogunovic

Now, you're probably wondering how I got here! Running a marketing agency, educating people about branding, and helping you to develop your own presence online. To understand, you’ll need to follow me @Domain.Me

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