9 secrets to building a winning team for your startup

  As entrepreneurs, there is just one thing that matters- Winning. And believe it, winning is not going to happen if you don’t build a great team that is fully committed to your vision. To be honest, your team is one of the most important differentiators between success and failure, and though you might be reluctant to employ because you are terrified of hiring the wrong person, eventually you have to take the leap of faith and hire. So how do you build a winning team? Here are some recruiting strategies that have worked for several businesses.

1. Get References from your network

Tap into your network, you took the time to build them for a reason. Chances are they have worked with or at the very least, interviewed some really great assets and could point you in the right direction. At best, they have worked together for a period of time and are satisfied with the overall performance of your prospective employee.  

2. Build relationships and start early

Ideally, you shouldn’t wait until you post your job listing to start looking for the right candidates. Start early, invest time in building solid relationships with prospective candidates. As a founder, you should always meet potential candidates even if you have no intention of hiring yet. It solidifies your network and relationships, making it very easy for you to  select the right person when the time comes. You can attend happy hours, conferences events , generally places where you know these set of people will be present.  
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3. Ditch the conventional interview method

There are regular interview questions “serial interviewees”are used to answering. They have become so good at answering these questions that they end up saying what you want to hear, but the truth is, there’s no depth there. How about asking them to come in for half a day? You can give them an actual problem your startup is facing and ask them to work on it. You can also ask them what they think about your product or service and how it can be better. The point is to get employees who can think on their feet and proffer solutions. During the half day, place them in real teams, but take care to sign non-disclosure agreements and don’t share anything sensitive. They should be allowed to brainstorm with the team and you can evaluate their fit with your startup. Not only does this show you the things you need to know, it’s also fun.  

4. What is your vision? Sell it

This is the whole point. You have to share your dream and you have to be absolutely sure they can identify with it. Employees who are not keyed into your vision, only work because they have to-----for the money and not because they want to genuinely solve any of the challenges your startup is facing. Effectively, you would be the only one actively thinking about the growth and sustenance of your business. This is the point where a lot of startups lose great candidates. Take the time to understand the candidate’s motivations and why they want to work for your startup. If it doesn't feel like a match, trust your instincts and let them go.

5. Close the deal fast

If you are satisfied with the prospective employee and you get the same vibe from them. Close the deal fast. Ideally within seven days. A good candidate will have multiple offers and something better might just come along. Draft an initial agreement and seal the deal.

6. Please FIRE FAST

If it turns out you hired a lemon, fire fast. Don’t give it a second thought, don’t rationalize your feelings and try to play things down. Fire the lemon. Remember you are entering a long-term commitment and a bad hire who stays for more than six months will kill your startup.

7. Post-Hire

Your candidate passed the test and is now a part of your team. Great! But it doesn’t end there. In reality, you just started building your team. You need to do some post-hire assessment. What this means is having strategies in place to train your employees, promotion packages and career development.

8. Play to individual strengths

A key aspect of building a great team is understanding the strengths of each person and putting them where they can shine. If a team member is not good at details, they will never be good at details. Take time to observe if they do the rest of their job satisfactorily and if so, partner them up with someone else whose strength makes up for their deficiency.

9. Provide Incentives

Create goals that your team can work towards such as a bonus, a day off or a relaxed schedule. You should recognize that just as your team members have different skills, they may also react to incentives differently. So you need to take time to come up with incentives that they will respond to. For instance, there are team members who will prefer time off over money.