When it comes to building a successful company, it’s all about talent. Here’s why: While the idea is important, a dumb idea plus smart people can make it yield a great idea. But without the smartest and most talented people you can’t get very far. So, if people are most important, how can you ensure you build the very best team when everyone is trying to tap the same talent pool? A few guidelines:
Be attractive to others. You want to create more demand than you can fill. If you need 10 people you want to have 1,000 people interested. In order to be such a talent attractor, you must have something that separates you from the pack. It could be the idea itself. Some people are most energized by the specific problem they are working on and inspired by how big of an impact it will make. Others are attracted to the people. Is the founder a visionary? Is he or she someone they want to work with and from whom they can learn?
Do a trial run. Most people date before they make a long-term commitment or get married. The same type of “test” should apply here. In Silicon Valley, startups often have someone start on a trial basis, say 90 days, and then make the position permanent when it’s proven. Of course not everyone can leave a job for an unsure thing; ask a potential hire to pitch in on a project after hours or to collaborate on an assignment before making an official offer.
Make your mission inspiring and clear. One of your biggest challenges is to turn your individual employees into a high-performing collaborative team. To get started toward this, you must define a compelling vision and align your team around the same big picture goals.
Continually evaluate and assess talent. In a fast-growing, high-speed environment, needs are constantly changing. Many people can evolve, but sometimes the people who were good at the job yesterday might not excel in it tomorrow. This is especially true if the skill set they brought becomes obsolete in a changing business environment. You should evaluate your team every week. Every quarter step back and ask yourself, “If I had an open position would I rehire this person?” If you have seven people and seven open positions would you rehire all seven of them? The answer is usually, no.
Fix problems fast. Even the best of the best will make hiring mistakes, and statistically speaking, one study shows you have a 57% chance of hiring a good employee, making your process better than flipping a coin, but not by much. The best leaders do a great job in hiring, but they also must mitigate problems quickly.
There’s no room for poor performers at a fast-paced startup. Like the military, everyone carries each other. Dead weight can be catastrophic. I’m not suggesting you fire everyone after a single misstep. It’s imperative to remember that you believed in them in beginning and now you must communicate constantly and provide guidance to try to help them evolve. Celebrate the successes publicly and correct and coach privately.