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Solving the talent problem: what it takes to create a startup’s dream team

Prasanna Soparkar
27th Oct 2016
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Today’s startup environment in India has come a long way from when I started out five years ago, but the fundamentals of succeeding remain the same. This is especially true in the domain of human capital, which remains the fuel that sustains the fire of any startup.

While the founder, the most important cog in the startup wheel should become a role model setting the tone for any startup’s direction, the team that executes his/her vision is also paramount in determining the level of success. Hence, the importance of hiring a crack team, if anything, has only become more critical.

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In such an environment, here are some essentials you need to keep in mind to build your dream team:

Hire right: One cannot over emphasise the importance of founders spending a lot of time on hiring the right people. Don’t just hire to meet hiring targets or projections — that is a recipe for disaster. Some founders meet people and on the basis of that one meeting or a subsequent one, they decide on whether to hire the candidate or not. This method of hiring is outdated. Use psychometric tools to assess a candidate’s fit with the organisation and job profile. Use scientific methods to hire the right talent.

Take help from external resources: Hire retired and experienced HR heads because they have the domain understanding to spot the right talent for your company. A founder who is 24 years old cannot ask the kind of mature questions that will come from an experienced recruiting manager.

Provide direction to your team: Once people are hired, they will look up to the founder for mentoring and direction. But as a startup grows, personal sessions may become difficult. However, practices like open house sessions and touching base with team leaders and others in charge to understand their challenges and gauge where the organisation is headed can be very helpful.

Provide mentoring: Mentoring is a crucial part of building a strong and talented team. Founders should be involved in it as much as possible. Remember, a mediocre team can’t build a successful startup.

Training talent: This is a continuous process. You have to train your people on a regular basis so that they are able to contribute to the organisation’s growth. For example, if a startup is moving away from a pure services model to becoming a tech-enabled company, this transition is a paradigm shift for employees and hence they need to be trained to do the things they have so far been doing manually. For any startup in scale-up mode, rigorous training on dynamic business environment is a must. Soft skills training is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be.

Retention:  Attrition is a given. No amount of strategy can arrest that. In HR, it is believed that some amount of attrition is good and is factored in but every HR manager wants to retain the top 20 percent performers in any organisation.Retention policies can’t be uniform or generalised for the entire organisation. For example, if you lure a fresher with tools like superannuation or gratuity, he won’t be keen because the young workforce wants higher cash component and is not willing to wait for it for longer durations. Retention policy has to be custom made. For the top level, motivation drivers are different. An attractive ESOP plan with a buy-back scheme will help you retain the top cadre in a company. Offer continuous learning opportunities, whether within the organisation or outside, for any specialised executive courses.

Give a clear career growth path: A fresher or a leader who ever joins your company should know his/her KRAs and resulting growth path in your company. This will motivate him/her to stay longer in your organisation.

Work environment plays a crucial role: An open-door policy should be encouraged. A team leader should be approachable, compassionate, and empathetic and should treat his people with respect.

Hence, in the rigorous, tough, and testing environment startups go through, these takeaways might really help you build your dream team, which will ultimately set the pace of your startup as it grows and achieves greater heights.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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