When a startup approaches its growth phase, getting the best team together is an absolute priority for founders. First you need to be clear as to what type of professionals you need; next, look at the qualities they should bring to the table. You should also think about contracting priorities in line with investment and growth expectations.
Is it easy to find a team that fits your requirements perfectly? “The market is broken. The right professionals just aren’t available, and things don’t move quickly enough. There’s an imbalance between supply and demand”, says Chaume Sánchez, CEO and Founder of GeeksHubs, a company specialising in staffing other companies that can’t find staff with the right skills with tech professionals, either through training or recruitment.
Drawing from his experience with startups and as an entrepreneur himself, Chaume has helped us come up with these tips.
Fit your pieces together, fast
“Startups move to short timescales. Investors want things to happen fast: get people signed quickly, get your team together, get agile, and make sure they’re going at full throttle in the least amount of time possible” says Sánchez. However, it’s important to spend time on defining the roles you need well, as well as outlining a recruitment strategy.
The first department to grow is IT, and that’s where the problem comes in. “There just aren’t enough people with vocational training (FP) or engineering backgrounds”, says Chaume. “And you might even need five at once”. When it comes to qualifications, this CEO says we need to be open minded: “Maybe you don’t need so many engineers. Holders of FP qualifications make good developers. You need to know how to balance your requirements for each”.
Start with more senior roles
If you have senior staff in place in the startup stage, it’ll be easier to guarantee functionality and team agility. But obviously they’ll be more expensive. “You need to find a balance and set out your priorities. If you can’t sign up five senior staff members, you need to pick two of these roles and three more junior”, says Chaume resignedly. Going forward, the ideal scenario is to have a mix of senior and junior staff.
And you need to make sure the latter, in spite of having less experience , can prove their credentials by demonstrating that they can work on their own initiative, be problem solvers, and be creative.
Get an HR manager, quick
“If you want to build a solid foundation in the medium to long-term, having someone in charge of HR is essential”, confirms the GeeksHubs CEO. “It can be a good investment in the growth phase. In fact it might even be worth getting someone working in HR before you fill other roles. And if the company has more than 10 people it’s absolutely essential”. Why?
“If you have a small team, even one person leaving can leave the rest of the team floundering, and productivity goes down”, explains Chaume. An HR manager doing their job well can lessen the chance of this happening – after all, their main role is to ensure everyone is happy in their work.
In a startup, the head of HR will go beyond managing payslips and holidays. It’s their job to create a great working environment. Knowing all the employees (and the work they do) well is fundamental to this, as well as to finding the right stand-in should somebody leave. “There’s a lot of movement in the digital jobs marketplace. Employees come and go. You need someone who’s there to think about people”, stresses Chaume.
Think about the talent you already have
If you’re in the thick of a growth phase and already have a dozen employees, it makes sense to think about all the cogs in your machine before you go adding any new ones. “With a positive attitude, every one of your employees is an asset to your company. It might be worth refocusing some of them to make sure you don’t lose them”, warns the GeeksHubs founder, who also works on retraining professionals for posts different to those they originally filled. Once again, HR can play a key role in ensuring the pieces of the puzzle are moved to the right place.
Interns: further down the line
It’s better not to plan on taking on interns until the company is well established, with a solid team riding at cruise control. In the first few years, work is fast-paced and high-intensity, making it impossible to think about teaching anyone. Having said that, at the right time, interns and students on placements can be a fantastic pool of made-to-measure talent for your company.
To sum up, first think carefully about which roles you need to fill. Next, search exhaustively until you’ve found the best. And lastly, don’t forget to create an optimum working environment, so that everyone will be eager to get stuck in. When it comes to putting your team together, there’s no better investment of your time.