The Importance of Hiring the Right Startup Team: Our 3-Step Process


Stressful people waiting for job interview

Your team is critical. Not only do you spend more time with them at your fast-growing company than you do with your own family, but a very large part of your success will depend on the quality and mindset of these individuals. So when hiring, remember that these candidates are not prospective employees, they are new teammates.

At Trunomi we are trying to create a whole new paradigm, where our customers have control of their own personally indentifiable information (Pii) and they control the use of it over their mobile device. We’re getting rid of Big Brother and making it “Easy as Pii™.” Given the extent of our intellectual property, our velocity as a company and our desire to have fun while doing what we do best, our team is everything.

As such, we’ve reinvented our approach to team building. Our goal is to find and develop Trunomians: team members who live, breathe and love Trunomi and its ideals. I’d like to share some of the key parts of that process here, which you can adapt to your own culture:

Leave Compensation Out of It (At First)

In the highly competitive landscape of finding the best additions to your company, amazing potential hires don’t just make their decisions based on compensation, but on factors well beyond it. These days, compensation rates are a well-defined commodity, so we leave money out of it for as long as possible. This shows them what matters most to us is something much more important than money.

Do a “Share and Invite”

Additionally, rather than asking questions, we use a process called “share and invite.” It starts with us sharing openly and fully, and then inviting prospective team members to comment on what we just shared. This unique approach achieves the dual goals of ensuring that expectations are clearly set for both parties and helping to figure out if this is a mutual fit — all with a foundation of transparency in communication. This saves an immense amount of time, money, frustration and opportunity cost, and leaves a great impression while helping you build a winning team. It’s also very conversational, which sets them at ease and makes the most of the short time you have together.

I usually start by sharing a compelling high-level overview to communicate the scale of our vision, and then pause to see how they react and if they have any comments. I move on to the importance for us of our team working together as collaborators, inviting them to respond there as well. I will often speak openly about our culture — sharing the most important aspects which truly matter most in our culture deck. After another pause for them to contribute their own thoughts, I talk about our open standard: that everyone in our company is seen as an innovator (another pause for comment), and that our default response to any ideas of Trunomians is YES — any NOs have to be substantiated.

Once they’ve responded, I move on with more about how our team functions. Like the fact that we bring problems and proposed solutions to our town hall meetings. After hearing their response, I move forward with how through collaborative analysis we as a team can tease out of any ideas as well as the most relevant and useful bits. I wait to hear their comments on this approach before I talk about my personal passions and how we value individuality. After another pause for them to interject about their own passions, I share how hard we all work and the corresponding freedoms that we all earn as a result. I also share things I am trying to improve at, or failings we recognize which we are trying to overcome — showing humanity and learning and trust.

At each opportunity — between topics and the things I’m sharing – the invitation for them to share opens up the conversation in a compelling way. The natural fit (or not) will become evident. In the best case it’s a true fit. If not, at a minimum they leave feeling that you shared and listened. They know you took the time, and as a result they will recall a great experience.

Remember: It can be a small world and they might just refer a friend to you.

Conduct a Behavioral Assessment

Finally, if things have gone well, we invite prospective team members to conduct a Predictive Index (PI), which gives amazing insight about their strengths, goals and habits. We then share the results with them afterwards. If we proceed forward with the candidate, we can also use this to place them better within our team.

If we don’t, they then have a valuable takeaway – which leaves a lasting positive impression of our company.

As a final note, one of the more compelling ways to ensure the success of your company, especially when it is in growth mode, is to ensure that you have a repeatable process in place for hires. This takes out the guesswork and makes sure that each addition has the same opportunity and expectations. Following this conversational, finding-a-good-fit model has worked well for us; you can develop your own specific processes to suit your goals.

Good luck finding your own Trunomians!

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

About the author: Stuart Lacey

Stuart Lacey is an entrepreneur with a successful history of founding, building profitable companies and exiting cleanly. With 20 years of leadership experience in the financial and technology markets, he has a keen eye for growing highly successful teams and developing innovative platforms and leading technology solutions. His latest venture, www.trunomi.com, is his biggest and is about to fundamentally change the face of human and business interaction.

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