Did you know that Terrific products, strong financing, cool offices, and a great website don’t matter much if your team can’t work well together? Developing a great team and establishing a healthy, productive organizational culture are two of your most challenging tasks in a startup. They are also more in your control than many other elements you are dealing with. Here are a couple suggestions to build a powerful team to success:
Mirror, Lenses, and Glue
Look in the mirror. Don’t hire too many people that look like you. Your team should be able to see the world through different lenses professionally, intellectually, socially, and personally. This is not seeking diversity for its own sake, but rather building a broader and stronger team that will help you with different and useful viewpoints, capabilities, and approaches that will be valuable as you build your business. You’re hiring people who are not your clones but your complements.
Experienced investors will tell you they fundamentally invest in the team. Of course, vision and strategy are important but, when investors trust the team, that vision can evolve while maintaining their support. Your challenge is to build just such a team, one that is up for the adventure ahead. You probably have fewer than five major hires as you get underway, so think like a sports team owner on draft day and make every pick count. Think how each of them will complement one another’s strengths and compensate for their shortcomings, especially when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Your organization may not be big yet, but your culture is already forming. Every day, you and your initial team are building the foundation for the bigger company you want to create. Begin the right culture from day one. You’re shaping the organization’s spirit, integrity, and style of operating and communicating, including how you handle failure. That’s the glue that binds your team together.
Remember, culture starts with just two people, multiplies quickly, and is surprisingly fragile. Give it the attention it deserves.
Bias to Action and Relentless Dissatisfaction
In an early stage company, the most effective culture is one of execution. In startups, there’s no room for people who want to sit back and give advice. Clear metrics, accountability, and transparency are key. They make it easier to quickly recognize, minimize, and learn from small failures. A relentless focus on data and information combined with the independent thinking necessary to understand and correct those situations are valuable assets in a startup. They also temper a founder’s self-confidence and hubris with the kind of humility and curiosity that can lead to continually improving business performance.
The Passionate Convincer As an entrepreneur, you, by definition, pursue opportunities and take risks often without regard to the resources you control. This pretty much requires you to be a consummate communicator and convincer. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to channel your inner Steve Jobs and his famous “reality distortion field.” But it does mean you tell your story and present your venture in a compelling way that resonates with others and contributes to progress every day.
Startup leaders hire great employees, close big sales, and speak with credibility and conviction to investors and partners. You maintain employee morale, share big visions, celebrate small wins, and make everyone on your team feel like they are an integral part of something bigger than them. You are also an attentive listener, hearing the needs of different stakeholders and presenting your venture in a way that meets those needs. And you do it all with authenticity and passion. You lead the organization by providing others with words and actions they can use as they take initiative, and by shaping the culture, all at the same time.
source: The Other F Word by John Danner Mark Coopersmith