Try these tips to build and retain a great team for your startup


At a startup, teamwork can make the dream work. Here’s how you can put together a super team and keep them engaged at your startup.

A business is a lot about the team that works behind it! In these tough times for the startup and tech world, money and resources are not that abundant. Several employees who were highly attracted to the startup world have started turning to multinational companies again. Highly coveted salaries being provided by several well-funded startups are drying up with the lean approach being adopted in startups.

Now, you’d think how can you build a great team and retain them without offering a hefty pay package? Well, the good news is there still are many skilled people out there who want to work for decent/average salaries. What they need is an exciting, supportive, productive, and challenging environment.

Here’s how you can build a great startup team and also retain it:

Hire by attitude, not degree

This age-old startup hiring tradition still works. We, at Viralcurry, have always hired our team for their attitude and willingness to learn and grow. You can get to know the candidate’s attitude and willingness to work during the brief interview. People with a “startup attitude” stand apart in interviews as well. Figure out what kind of attitude and passion you are looking for in a candidate and then frame your interview questions. Being straightforward also works most of the times! You can ask them the question directly: “We have a team of just 7 people, but we are doing some great and challenging work.

Will you be comfortable working in our small startup?” You will be surprised to know how often people say “no”, which is good because it will save you a lot of time, money and resources.

Bust the hierarchy

According to a survey by Gallup Research, employees who are “engaged and thriving” are 59 percent less likely to look for another job.

People and their individual work go unnoticed in big companies several times. However, in smaller companies, each person has an individual responsibility and is given due credit for it as well. This leads to them feeling more engaged, enthused, and passionate towards their job. Several people turn to startups because they want their ideas and hard work to be heard, respected and appreciated. The beauty of startups is that even an intern can leave his mark! If you as a startup also start creating hierarchies and do not respect individual work, then who will?

Provide financial and personal benefits

Most multinationals provide several financial plans such as provident funds and health insurance to employees. One reason is that insurance and investment schemes are more expensive when taken individually as compared to group ones.

While it is understandable that a startup cannot provide all of these, you may offer certain benefits that would fit in your budget and also be helpful to the startup team. A good option would be to go for a group health insurance scheme or a small PPF account for each. You can search for options, compare health insurance online, and see if you can find a good package for your team. In addition to that, since most startups and their employees are tech/marketing guys, it is always helpful to help them with their taxes, explaining about deductions/financial schemes etc via workshops or sessions.

Opt for an open and comprehensive review and reward system

Another factor that several people look forward to while working at a startup is a transparent review and reward system. You must build a very transparent and comprehensive review system for all employees. The review system should encompass all factors about attitude, learning capacity, and the team’s performance. When you are open about the review and reward system, the team gets enthused and works towards achieving those goals. An ideal reward system should run parallel to day-to-day activities and should be goal-based, and not timesheet-based. Do not ask them to fill time sheets or day-in/day-out hours. Instead, you can have a reward system that includes regular tasks accomplished, special tasks accomplished, and exceptional achievements. A designer whose post went viral on the internet deserves a special reward!

Stay approachable and open to questions

According to recent research by TINYPulse, strong management transparency leads to 30 percent better employee retention.

Thus, it is very important that the startup founder must stay approachable and open to questions from the team. I remember, our team asking some uncomfortable questions about the company, its revenue, the vision, my personal vision etc. However, do not build that attitude around you and avoid those questions. Instead, take them openly and answer them! I think, if people are asking questions they are fully interested and dedicated to your company. They ask because they wish to know what you think about this company and them. It is perfectly alright if an employee comes and asks you “What is YOUR vision?”

Celebrate small personal milestones

From an intern getting their exam results to a team member becoming a father, celebrate their moments. It is not important to throw a big party for each and everything but at least show appreciation. Show that you know! Wishing someone good luck or congratulations also makes them happy.

People join startups not just for the salary. They do it because they want to be a part of a team that is building something, to be excited about their work, be appreciated for what they do, and to feel secured and stay happy during the eight hours they spend at office.

(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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