David Henzel is co-founder of MaxCDN, the instant content delivery network that serves as your speed team, with best-in-industry support.
Finding top talent is never easy. With new companies starting up every day, today's employee has more options to choose from than ever before.
To avoid losing your people to the competition, you need to actively manage employee relationships from day one. Here are some of the key lessons I've learned through putting together my own top-notch team while building a company.
Hire People Who Share Your Vision
Getting the right people in your startup begins with the hiring process. For many companies, there's pressure to just hire someone ASAP. But to ensure you're hiring talent that will stick around, it's important to hire people who believe in your vision.
Unfortunately, when a company fails to provide a clear vision, employees aren't likely to stay and help build it. To discover what your company believes in, figure out the "why?" behind everything you do. By starting with “why?” (as Simon Sinek outlines in his TED Talk), you're able to discover the true focus of your company and communicate it to new team members.
At MaxCDN, our “why?” comes from believing that time is the single most valuable resource. As such, we deliver objects around the world in milliseconds, all configuration changes are instant, and the average support ticket response time is two minutes.
Communicate Your Core Values
Having clearly defined core values plays a huge role in shaping your direction. They can also help you screen candidates and ensure they're a good fit. At MaxCDN, we've spent a lot of time distilling our core values into easily digestible statements, such as “build cool stuff,” which helps with attracting great engineering talent.
As we bring on new employees, we make sure they understand how our core values shape our company's direction to ensure they’re a culture fit. For example, another one of our values is “work 'n’ whistle,” which is about getting excited about working hard and having fun.
But culture only makes up half of a great hire. We've also learned that a company needs different kinds of employees, at different stages of their growth.
Hire for Personality Fit
Hiring a new team member is a different process depending on the lifecycle point of your company. I’ve found that there are three main personality types that most folks fit into, and each is useful for a different era in your company's life.
In your early stages, guerrilla employees are ideal. They dislike formal structure, work best under pressure, and are highly flexible. When you're just starting out, these are the people who will write the code, help with ideation, and even run cable for the new office. In other words, they aren't afraid of working outside of a job description.
On the flip side are police employees. Later on, as your direction becomes more focused, these are the folks who keep you on track. They're great at following specific directions and seeing a single task through to completion.
Somewhere in the middle you'll find the soldier. They like some structure, but are also comfortable pushing boundaries to get the job done. You'll need these folks to help manage your transition from an early- to late-stage startup.
Understanding these personality types--and whom you need at this exact moment--can ensure you're hiring the right talent for your company--meaning better productivity, fewer rehires, and better growth.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
Once you've hired the perfect employee, make sure you're nurturing this new relationship. It helps to regularly schedule one-on-ones with your team. These meetings are a great opportunity to get to know your employees and understand what drives them.
One way to automate this process is by using 15five. The idea is that employees have 15 minutes to give feedback and you have five minutes to review it (but you should still have in-person one-on-one meetings once a month).
At MaxCDN, we are obsessed with NPS (Net Promoter Score), which is a great way to gauge customer satisfaction--so much so that we highlight it on our transparency page and use a similar approach to gain insight into employee happiness.
Just as we ask our customers if they would recommend MaxCDN as a service, we also ask our employees if they would recommend MaxCDN as an employer. This is done through an annual employee survey.
All work and no play makes your company boring. Even with the perfect cultural fit and regular check-ins, you can't expect employees to stick around if they don’t find their workplace interesting or inspiring.
To make your company more fun, encourage employees to get to know each other outside of work. If your business is tech-focused, try hosting regular hackathons as a creative outlet for your team. You could promote good vibes with half-day Fridays or flexible work hours.
Basically, the aim here is to let your team know they're valued. Give them credit for what they’ve built through shout-outs in meetings or in your internal newsletter. Make sure you're constantly nurturing the relationship, or you may just lose your best talent to a competitor.
At some point, you may realize a new employee isn’t a good fit. When you do, it's important to fire them immediately.
Your team is only as strong as its weakest link, and a poor team member can quickly have a negative impact on colleagues. Fire fast, and look for someone who will be a better fit. Otherwise, you risk dragging down the morale of your entire company.
Firing should of course be your last resort. First, use these strategies to empower employees and help them feel at home in your startup. Because to build something truly outstanding, you're going to need a team of outstanding, committed people.