Teaming with Startups
Having written about teams last week, I found myself attending an Informatics Ventures event titled “Teaming with Startups” at in Glasgow this week. It was another excellent event from Danny, Ronnie and the team and I must add a word for the venue. The Inovo building in George Street looks like an excellent new facility. It has been renamed Scotland House and is the headquarters of Team Scotland during the Commonwealth Games so it had an extra something special for the day.
The speakers included John Innes, former CEO of Amor Group and a number of promising early stage companies. As it turned out, much of the theme was actually about bringing in new people as opposed to forming founding teams. I thought it would be worth sharing some thoughts this week on hiring great people, including some useful advice from the speakers at the event.
We all make mistakes
Hiring is a tough part of leadership. I have lived and worked through at least three major recessions and even in the toughest economic times there is always a shortage of good people. Good people also tend to be loyal and successful so they are not often on the market even when you do find them. As a consequence, even the best of us are prone to make mistakes.
I often used to share a beer and a laugh with a group of senior partners from my previous firm talking about the worst recruitment errors each of us had made. A good friend of mine was generally the winner when he reminded us of the guy he hired on a six figure salary who did not sell a single pound’s worth of work or bill a single hour in two years.
The Cardinal Sins of Recruitment
When the talk turned serious, it usually boiled down to three core mistakes, all common and all fatal:
Hiring is a strategic priority
In the end there is no substitute for spending time talking to potential recruits. I am not a huge fan of the word interview. This is not a one way process. Especially in a Startup environment but in truth in any worthwhile job the new recruit is taking as much, maybe more risk than the hiring company. Of course, this makes the process time consuming. Do not be afraid to spend the time. This is strategic investment just as much as product development or marketing plans. In fact hiring and developing the right people is the best investment you can make.
Interview, interview, interview. At the end whatever notes you have, ask yourself one question “will it be fun having this person as part of your team?” Yes is the only answer that works.
Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.