Hiring the right people for your business is one of the most important functions of any organisation but when it comes to startups, hiring is the most important function of all. In the early stages of your company, each employee plays a crucial role in shaping the culture, direction and ultimate success of your business.
From hiring friends and family, to being unclear about your mission or accruing diversity debt, there are many potential pitfalls founders need to avoid. To build out your company with the most suitable and effective talent you need to carefully consider the following:
Getting the organisational structure right from your company’s infancy is crucial. Resources are so tight you need to ensure you’re clearly defining everyone’s roles and responsibilities in terms of what they are delivering to the business. This will ensure maximum efficiency and buy in, and avoid double jobbing and confusion.
This is not an overnight process, understanding the tasks associated with the running of each function of your startup can take months. As the needs of the business evolve, you will need to be flexible and take on board the feedback of your team.
Instead of just providing clarity around what each person is responsible for, you need to think about how the team collaborates and feeds into one another. Drawing up an organisational chart may seem a little rigid for a new company but it’s key in creating an environment where the team can see their contribution and impact. There are a number of org charts used to illustrate the flow of work through a startup. Some of the most common are:
Functional - A traditional structure where people and their lines of reportage are drawn by speciality.
Divisional - Where teams are arranged according to certain projects.
Matrix - This structure allows for multiple reporting lines and varied leaders depending on what’s being worked on.
Flatarchy - A flatarchy facilitates more fluid communication by removing the rigid top down lines of a traditional hierarchical structure.
Mission and culture
Without the resources of a large corporation it can be difficult to attract the brightest and best to your startup. That said, what startups lack in perks and salaries they make up for in opportunity and character.
Today’s talent want to work for an employer that shares their outlook on the world. Defining the mission and values of your company is pivotal in reaching the people who will drive your company forward.
After all, only when you truly pin down what your mission is can you begin to find people who align with it. It’s not enough to find high performers, you need to find high performers who share your vision and so will shape the company culture for you.
To help you figure out what your mission is and how to communicate it, ask yourself the following: What is the need for your company? Who are its customers? How are you operating in a way that is different and better than your competitors?
The pace of a startup is fast if not frantic. You’re constantly required to make changes, fix broken processes and update priorities. This constant assessment of your current progress can make it difficult to look too far ahead.
As a founder or CEO you need to be thinking of the future and always considering how your structure will influence your next hire, partner or investor.
As you scale, it’s important to not get bogged down on past organisational mistakes but instead think about how you can incorporate what you’ve learnt.
There comes a time when you need to trust the people you’ve hired to achieve the goals you’ve set them. It’s an ideology often spoken about but rarely followed by founders in the early stages of a business. If you’ve set out the structure and objectives of your company properly you’ll have a thorough understanding of who is performing without having to micromanage them.
To achieve this, requires investment not only in recruiting excellent people but in onboarding them too. It is your responsibility as leader of your company to communicate the culture and values of your business coherently. Your culture will underpin everything you do, so be sure you’re adequately educating your employees on what that looks like. It’s about more than an inspirational welcome email, to truly promote your culture you need to embody it. Practice what you preach.