theStartups

Invest in roles

Happy new year, guys! We hope 2019 brings you good energy, some lessons learned from last year, inspiration and a lot of great opportunities (which, btw, are up to you to turn into great achievements. No pressure).

We also hope that the expectations you have from 2019 will match your ambition because that’s the only thing to ever get you where you want to be 🙂

That being said, our first topic from 2019 talks about the importance of having the right people in the right places. That is, the key roles in your company.

The purpose of this article is not to tell you what your organizational chart should look like, but rather give you a few hints on how to pick and treat your people so that everybody feels they’ve scored a win at the end of the day.

The one-man show

We usually meet this specimen in startups and small companies (with teams of 2-10), where the founder simply has to get involved in everything.

Be it that they’re not financially prepared to choose a sidekick, or they’re just control freaks who feel no one is more capable of managing things than they are, the ones running the one-man show need to be the only ones making decisions, handling the budget, meeting with the clients, closing deals and taking all the credits.

What not to do: that. Don’t do that. Unless you’re one of those twisted dudes who need to turn everything they see or touch into their own property, you need to entrust another person with managing parts of your business.

What to do instead: Pick the closest trustworthy someone. Share your vision with them, train them the way you consider to be the best, value their point of view and, eventually, lay back and relax. This doesn’t mean you’ve lost control, it means you’re not alone in this anymore.

The multi-tasking slave

This is the next worst thing. Let’s say you own a small company and you need some things to be done, so you hire someone to do them – we’ll call him Johnny.

When Johnny first came to the interview he was told he’ll get 3-4 main responsibilities, so he agreed to come work for you. Meanwhile, those 3-4 responsibilities turned into 10, all of which were also assigned to Johnny.

Johnny now works his ass off, has no more time for his personal life and gets no promotion, no raise and no approval for a 2-week vacation, as there’s no one there to replace Johnny while he’s out of office. Just a bunch of extra tasks that translate into a bunch of extra hours, including weekends and legal holidays.

What not to do: don’t fuck up Johnny’s life. And if you’re thinking to hand Johnny one of those stupid diplomas that says “Employee of the year” at the Christmas party, don’t do that either. Johnny will most probably tell you to roll that diploma carefully and shove it right up your ass. And by all means, he’s right to do so.

What to do instead: it says right there, in the title. Invest. In. Roles. Keep track of all existing and upcoming needs in your company, split them by categories and hire as many people as it takes to manage them.

Brains as part of the recruitment process

Here’s an ugly truth: the recruitment process is faulty and worn-out. It’s like an ancient law that we’ve passed on from one generation to the next, no questions asked, no changes made.

“Experience is a must! Recommendations are gold!” Hiring criteria is bullshit.

Someone might miss out on a job they are actually qualified for just because they were unfortunate enough not to have graduated from that irrelevant University mentioned in the job description. The young generation has little-to-no chance of getting a good position, despite them being faster learners, more adaptable and more capable than most of the old guys from that same domain.

What not to do: don’t expect old standards and a flawed process to bring you fresh perspectives and good results. Don’t put so much accent on expertise and education levels. It’s the skills and abilities that make a good employee, not a wide range of former positions and diplomas.

And, for the love of God, please stop asking people where do they see themselves in five years. This question, just like the answer to it, has zero relevance to the position you’re offering and tells you nothing about the way that candidate is going to perform within your organization.

What to do instead: first of all, the people applying for your job are potential future colleagues, so treat them like equals and make the job interview a collaborative discussion rather than an interrogatory. Secondly, if you want to get relevant answers, put their brains at work. Describe some unusual or edgy events your company has confronted with and invite the candidate to tell how would they have handled those situations. Let them know what are the challenges in your company and what are your expectations from them and leave out any personal questions.

The extra dollar

If you want the best, be prepared to pay for the best. Among other qualities, a professional is a reasonable person with a fair sense of self-evaluation. Someone who knows their value will never agree to come work for a cheap bastard. And, truth be told, we both know you can afford them.

What not to do: if you’ve found the right person for a key position, don’t over-negotiate their fee. You need them more than they need you, plus there’s a big chance you won’t be finding someone as good anytime soon. Professionals don’t grow on trees and they’re far from being inexpensive.

What to do instead: pay that extra dollar. Value the good people and show them respect on every level, including the financial one. That’s one of the smartest investments you can make for your business.

Reasons to stay

Keeping your best people is a difficult thing to do. Look away for a second and you’ll wake up with one good member leaving the boat for a better opportunity.

Employees must be seen as partners. If they’re motivated enough, not only will they do their job, but they’ll also actively seek for ways to improve themselves and the business. Keep them motivated and they’ll dedicate 100% to the well-being of the company.

What not to do: don’t get too lazy or too comfortable and don’t rely on anyone else to make sure your employees are happy. Keeping a good team requires effort, attention and good management skills. Don’t exploit your people, don’t take anyone for granted and don’t think that paying them regularly is all it takes to win their loyalty.

What to do instead: create an environment where your people get to grow, learn and practice their skills every day. Provide them with professional training courses and workshops, create internship programs, run periodical 1-on-1s with your members, reward them for their good results and give them all the resources they need to perform at their full potential.

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Sounds tough? Well, the alternative is to wind up with a team of poorly trained, under-performant, frustrated and confused members.

Invest in roles. Make sure to have key people managing the key areas of your business: executives, middle managers, product owners, project managers, team leaders. Don’t get cheap and don’t cut down on quality. Your people are the engines of your business, and that says it all.

Authors: Vlad Diaconu, Andreea Mares

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