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5 essential things to remember when building your dream team

The key to building a thriving startup? Building a thriving team. 

by Jo Foster
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The key to building a thriving startup? Building a thriving team.

Why? Because your team basically IS your startup! The folks you surround yourself with to help you realize your business goals are the folks that will actually do the work and drive your business forward. So, taking the time to pick the right ones is crucial.

BUT. Building your dream team is not as simple as hiring a bunch of CEOs and throwing them in a room together. It’s a tad more complex than that. When building your dream team, you need to remember these five things:

1. The right candidate might not always be where you think.

When hiring a new team member, it’s vital to search outside the perceived talent pool you’re used to fishing in.

Career direction is no longer a case of starting from the bottom and working your way up. People move in all sorts of random directions.

So, if you confine your search for the perfect CFO to people already in prominent CFO positions, you unnecessarily hinder yourself pretty dramatically.

You need to remember that CFOs do far more than just crunch numbers. They also need to be risk assessors, analytics wizards, people managers, communicators and decision makers.

Cast your net widely across different industries and different positions that hold some or all of these transferable skills in high regard. You never know what you might catch!

2. The future is now.

As automation and AI take over routine jobs and many professions, you need to start prioritizing behaviors and attitudes over knowledge and experience when appointing new team members.

In the future workplace, it’s the essentially human aspects of work – empathy, persuasion, adaptability and creativity – that become super important.

Look for creative problem solvers and strategic decision makers, rather than someone with perfect unicorn experience for a given role.

Another thing to consider is the rise of the gig economy. It might make better economic sense for your startup to have fewer full-time employees, tapping into other part-timers as they’re needed.

3. Don’t forget about the women.

When Uber was looking for a new CEO, it was pretty certain the board would choose a current or former CEO of a large public company.

This requirement reduced the candidate pool to practically zilch. And in the end, despite the fact that they’d wanted to hire a woman, they ended up appointing a man. Which is really not surprising, considering women currently only take up about 5% of CEO positions.

When interviewing for a role, particularly those in the C-suite, make sure you’re looking at men AND women (see point 1). If fewer women apply, consider seeking some potential candidates out and inviting them to interview.  

This is not just about providing equal opportunity. The research actually shows that hiring women is linked to better corporate financial results. So, taking this issue seriously is really a win-win.

4. Invest in the team you already have.

Imaginative and visionary people are actually everywhere; chances are you’ve already hired a few. If you notice a high potential employee in the lower levels of your business, help them realize their potential now.

Everyone has room to learn and grow, and with the right data and support you can help members of your team overcome their blind spots, leverage their positive behaviors and thrive in a role best suited to them.

5. Hiring is only the start of successful team building.

So, you’ve hired and trained up all the right people… what now? It’s important to remember building a team is only the start of the journey.

According to a two-year study by Google, a team will only thrive where they feel they can depend on their fellow teammates; when they have clear goals and when they feel what they do has meaning and impact.

Perhaps most importantly, they need to feel safe and supported in sharing ideas, taking risks and voicing their opinions in a business context.

You need to create collaborative physical, digital and metaphorical workspaces that facilitate coordination and solidarity – fostering support, creativity and strategic problem-solving among team members.

As a founder, you are ultimately responsible for the success of your team. You owe it to yourself to invest in them, giving your business the best chance of victory.

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