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The team is one of the key criteria for the startup’s success. In fact, one might even say key. You can come up with a brilliant idea, but you will never be able to implement it alone. But how to build a dream team? How to create a dream workplace for someone? While researching this question, I came across a book written by Netflix HR director Patty McCord. The book is called — “The Strongest”. I remember reading it and thinking: “Exactly, that’s what motivates me. Yes, this is the kind of company I would like to work for.” In this article, I will present the key conclusions from the book, superimposed on my experience as an employee, manager, project founder, and campaign volunteer. And be sure to read the book — it’s worth it.
We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.
At my first job, the motivation system worked like this: you write a list of 10 key tasks and at the end of the month you get a bonus, which depends on the number of completed tasks. At first, I wrote in this list big and ambitious goals that inspired me. But they took much longer than a month, and the daily grind was still going on.
At the end of the month, I was traditionally frustrated by looking at the list of undone key tasks. To feel better, I started adding routine tasks to my monthly plan. And now, finally, my indicators began to grow, I began to receive monthly bonuses. Has my motivation increased? No. There were no more interesting tasks left, the work completely turned into a routine, and soon I left the company.
In my second company, they said: this is our goal, you can go to this goal in different ways, we are ready to help, and we believe in you. Oh, it was a very difficult time, but incredibly interesting.
Here’s what Patty McCord says about motivation:
Great teams are created when things are going hard. When I hire an employee, I look for someone who is really inspired by the problems that we have to solve. You need them to wake up in the morning thinking: “God, this is hard. I want to do it!» Getting a problem to tackle and the right colleagues to tackle it with is the best incentive of all.
The same person can be insanely cool and a very mediocre employee. Why is that? There are many reasons: from personal events in life to the understanding that he is in the right place.
Patti says that the company can also affect the quality of its people’s work:
What I’ve learned deeply and in a new way, stepping into the more fragmented world of startups, is that people have power. The goal of the company is not to empower people, but to remind them that they are entering the door with their power, and to create conditions for them to use it. Do this, and you will be overwhelmed by the tremendous work they will do for you.
Here’s my radical suggestion: the job of a business leader is to create great teams that do incredible work on time. All. This is the task of management.
The campaign team that I joined in May 2020 was formed in a few days and consisted of completely various people, with different experiences and personalities. But we had the same views on the approach to work, to solving problems and problems: everything should be done legally and openly, professionally and efficiently, with maximum respect and love for people. This helped the group of professionals quickly turn into a cool team.
In Netflix, the recruitment process was as follows:
Finding the right people also doesn’t always mean “finding people who can fit into the culture.” When selecting a candidate who will fit into the culture, most people mean that this is the person with whom they would not mind having a beer. Often this approach is fundamentally wrong. People can have completely different personalities and personalities, and they are great for the job they have to do for you.
The organization can adapt to the behaviour of many people, and the infusion into the culture can work on both sides. More important than the coincidence of previous experience is the coincidence of views on approaches to solving problems.
This was our second slogan in the Hive (the Hive is the first crowdfunding platform in Belarus). First: be the cause of big and small changes.
This principle was about several things. First, about the mistakes. At school, we were scared of mistakes, as if nothing worse could happen to us. But in reality, these are just lessons. Or hypothesis testing. An employee who knows how to admit a mistake, tell about it sincerely, analyse it, and come up with a plan to solve it is much more valuable than an “ideal” and error-free one.
Secondly, it’s about respecting the surrounding people. Your employees, your customers are not stupid people. There is no need to hide, conceal, or hide anything. The truth will still open, and the sediment will remain.
Third, about understanding the business. The better you and your employees understand what is happening in your company — the more effectively you can act.
And here are quotes on this topic from the book:
If you do not inform your people, there is a high probability that they will be misinformed by others. If you don’t tell them how your business works, what your strategy is, what your difficulties are, and what market analysts think about your situation, they will get this information somewhere else-from colleagues who will also have incorrect information, or from the Internet, where nothing is more popular than sinister rumors and juicy conspiracy theories.
… He remembered that he could not express a much-needed criticism of one of his employees at Yahoo, and then had to make up for his shortcomings, which was exhausting and unfair to the employee. “I was too kind — he told me — and that, for many reasons, means you’re a bad manager. You start to embellish reality, and this is a disservice to your colleagues.
When we conducted interviews, we always paid attention to previous jobs. You can say that everyone actually does this, but we were not interested in the experience. For the companies in which a person worked, you can say a lot about his style of work, about his qualities as an employee. Because different companies have different rules of work and communication, different success rates, different approaches to completing tasks, and different criteria for hiring employees.
Hire only the best employees in the company and do not be afraid to let them go.
But no less important is what is said in the book:
It is hard to let go of those who worked perfectly. But it helps to know that they will have a great resume because they worked for you. This will be incredibly useful when looking for a new, perhaps even better job. You can also actively help them. The only way for companies to make sure that the people who leave them have great job opportunities is to make the company one that everyone will know about: it always hires only the best employee.
Find people whose eyes are burning from your tasks. Those who have a similar approach to solving problems. Support the strength of your colleagues, be honest with them, and they will be sincere in return. Set big goals and make this world a better place together.
In the end, after a hard and successful task, what could be better than these words: “Okay, that was great. What’s next?"