Barriers to Effective Team Building in a Startup

Barriers to Effective Team Building in a Startup

I started Station Five almost five years ago, and in that time I’ve learned first hand how to hire the right people for a fast growth environment. I’ve also learned how to hire the wrong people, along with the activities that are fundamental for finding, attracting, and employing the right people. There are a number of barriers to effective team building, and I’d like to share with you how you can overcome them to build a high performance team.

I recognise a blog post is certainly not a thesis, and I therefore only cover the high level. My intention here is to provide you with the mindset you need, which has been aided by content from my recent podcast with Stephen Scheeler (former CEO of Facebook APAC). It has further been enabled by the establishment of Station Five’s Philippines office. In setting up a new office in September 2018, I have learned very quickly (and for the second time!) where things can go horribly wrong (and where they flourish).

Focus on Strengths for Team Building

Focus on Strengths for Team Building

Focus on people’s strengths for effective team building. Hiring generalists is ineffective, as is shared in Built To Sell by John Warrillow. I believe the only generalist in a team should be the leader, and still then, there are flaws in a leader who wears all hats as it tends to create a single point of failure (trust me, I’ve been there).

The sad truth is that over 90% of startups fail in the first 18 months.

Your success depends on the people you hire and how their talents are allowed to flourish.

In today’s day and age, with technology rapidly disrupting industries constantly, people and culture matter more than ever before.

So, you’ve got to attract the right staff, hire them, and create the environment for them to perform.

Team Building is Two Sided

Acknowledge that team building is two sided. As a team leader, it’s easy to get caught up with what you need, particularly if you are fast moving. Recognising the requirements of your team members is just as important as your requirements as a team leader, if not more important. A team member is committing eight hours per day, five days per week, every week of the year to your vision; so you owe it to them to ensure you provide them with as much information as possible regarding the job.

Finding people and providing them with a team or culture that is misaligned with yours leads to both that staff member feeling dissatisfied, and you with an imminent vacancy.

Stephen Scheeler mentioned in the podcast that during his time at Facebook, the company spent more time on people, leaders, and culture than he ever had before.

It’s no accident the company has had the results we’ve seen.

But how do you achieve that?

Finding the Right Team Members for Startup Success

Finding the Right Team Members for Startup Success

It’s vital you have a clear vision in order to attract the right people.

You must be succinct about what you’re trying to build, and the direction you’re going in. Be clear about your startup’s mission, and your deep-seeded aspirations. Win your potential employees’ hearts in your job descriptions, and even more so when you’re face-to-face.

You’ll also need to be clear about the kind of talent, skills, and strengths you need; the right candidate will respond well to this perceived challenge and you’ll spark their desire to meet you.

Without a concise blueprint of what you need, you won’t end up with the level of talent you require. So plan first to avoid common failures in the hiring process.

Furthermore, it’s important to focus on the questions your candidates are asking you. These questions really help to shed light on the candidate’s values (and in some cases, their long term objectives). Some questions I ask myself during a job interview are:

  • Does this individual align with my mission?
  • Will my vision inspire them to come to work every day?
  • Are they looking for something more than just a job?

Once you’ve found a candidate who fulfils your blueprint, you need to confirm your workplace is the right place for THEM.

The F-Word and Your Startup’s Chance of Success

Let’s say you’ve found the ideal candidate by following the above steps. It doesn’t stop there! As a leader, you need to be really close to how your people are not only performing, but how they’re (F)eeling.  

They have to be inspired by working with you. They should feel like they’re making the world better, and like they’re using their best talents that focus on their strengths. And last, but most importantly, they need to be proud of what they’re doing.

Make no mistake, this is really hard to do amidst your other duties as a team leader. But, it’s one of the most important jobs you have to fulfil as a leader.

I encourage you to listen to the full podcast with Stephen Scheeler here.