The number one reason startups fail is due to people problems. Beginning a business is already a stressful matter, and making first hires only intensifies the situation. Startup founders want to make sure they are hiring people who are aligned to the company’s culture and values.
Prior to the hiring rounds, the team in place needs to have established a clear culture and statement of values. Everyone on the team needs to be familiar with these things, as well as constantly striving for them.
During interviews, be as intentional about the people as you are about your product. There have been many startups in which founders hire their best friends because they think they can work with them easily. It is not until stress is added to the situation that the founders see how their best friends truly respond. That is why it is essential to get to know candidates, including those you think you truly know, in different social settings.
One might even suggest not hiring friends to avoid clouded judgment. Consider using other resources like executive search firms in the U.K. to broaden your search and increase your possibility of securing high performing candidates. Specialized companies take the time to understand your company, values, and culture. They also remain objective, which is essential when hiring for any company—startup or established.
As you conduct interviews, assess both hard and soft skills. Of course you want to take candidate’s academic and technical skills into consideration, but focusing solely on those hard skills does not show you how the candidate will suit the company’s culture. Also screen for traits like humility, flexibility, creativity, and empathy. Candidates with these traits will more likely fit in with your company’s culture and be able to contribute to it.
As your startup team grows, they will most likely go though stages of development: forming, storming, norming, and performing. These stages are helpful for recognizing your team’s behavioral patterns and can be used as a basis for conversation. Team development is a constant process and changes with every new team member. That is why such emphasis should be placed on hiring the right people for your startup.
Many growing businesses follow the saying “hire slow, fire fast.” If a new member is not fitting into your culture or unable to contribute to it, do not hesitate to let them go. Holding onto a negative team member will cause damage to your company and its culture. Building a startup team comes with its many challenges, but if built with time and intent, the rewards will be satisfying.