8 Hiring and Engagement Lessons From the Startup Trenches (That Any Size Company Can Profit From) - mattersight - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
We all know startups fail for a number of reasons: no funding, bad marketing strategy, a not-so-unique product, inactive founders, etc. But bad hiring practices and low employee retention can be just as fatal to a startup — and, for that matter, any size business.
For a startup to work well, it needs (a) the best people, and (b) the ability to retain them.
In fact, Steph Russell of Vizually says, “The biggest challenge we faced early on was talent and hiring. In the earliest stages of a business, the biggest investment made is often the employees, both from a monetary and trust standpoint. At the same time, it’s important to build a good team and sometimes time is of the essence.”
Hence, it is crucial that a startup takes the necessary measures to hire and keep the right talent. Here are some lessons I learned while running my own startup, that every kind of company can apply to find and keep great talent.
>> RELATED: Take This Job and Love It: Hiring, Engaging and Retaining Talent in the New Emotional Workplace [Free Report]
Mastering the art of hiring
1. To find proactive employees, take proactive measures
Here’s the deal: We startups have to be really picky with who we hire! So if the pool of people on monster.com are not really in sync with what you’re looking for, don’t sit around and wait to find the right people.
There are quite a few proactive measures you can take. One idea is to use networks like LinkedIn to look for people who fit your expectations, and approach them and lay down your proposition even if they aren’t actively seeking a job.
Similarly, at my company, Hiver, we participate in the Blogathons and Hackathons that are popular in the startup circles, and that’s where we’ve found most of our marketers and coders!
Most people are open to finding a new opportunity, even if they aren’t looking for one.
Another idea is to go to startup meetups and events, meet new people and just grow your network. The thing is, you never know just where you might find the right people. As you expand your local network, the size of your potential employee pool increases.
2. Implement smart and two-way interview practices
For a startup, generic interview questions such as, “Walk me through your resume,” “Why are you looking for a job change?”, etc. won’t help much in making a decision.
I particularly emphasized presenting candidates with cases and hypothetical scenarios to really understand their thinking processes when interviewing for Hiver. Some examples:
- Present a scenario where two equally powerful employees have a conflict of opinion, and ask them how they would resolve it.
- Take a real problem you’re facing in the present and ask them what counter-measures they would suggest.
- Explain your company culture and ask them if they would change anything and why.
You can get wildly creative here. Also, the interview should encourage a two-way conversation. You must convey what your culture is to the candidate and encourage discussions about it.
3. Look for multi-taskers
Startup work can be unpredictable; depending on the changes in demands, the employees should be willing to switch between different tasks and not sit in the safety of their comfort zone.
For example, there was a time at my startup when we had to constantly shift our work force between different tasks – tasks which didn’t necessarily fall within their purview. Then, we needed employees who were excited about learning new things and capable of balancing their original work and the new work. We still do!
Here’s how you can find multi-taskers:
- Examine their resume. An employee who did community service work along with his daily job will probably work for you.
- Look at their previous job responsibilities. Did they do a wide range of tasks or did they stick to their specialization?
4. Select the jury well
It would be a mistake to send in a marketer to interview a software engineer. Although they can ask generic questions, they really can’t go into the specifics.
The fact that you’re the CEO of the company doesn’t mean you’re the best person to judge a candidate. Take the help of others who can.
At Hiver, it’s important that each of our employees is extremely collaborative. When we’re interviewing a senior experienced employee, we send in a junior employee to kick off the interview, just to see if the candidate will take it well or be offended.
This helps us understand the candidate’s attitude, which is really a very critical aspect for startups when hiring.
Mastering the art of keeping the hired
1. Build a happy culture
Nurturing a happy and fun work culture can keep your employees satisfied and positive, and happy people don’t look for change.
Often, work at startup includes meeting deadlines, fixing mistakes quickly, etc., and these activities will build up stress and pressure. No one really wants to work with a grumpy and stressed-out bunch of people. So, take it on yourself to make their office time a tad more fun and uplifting.
- Encourage office pranks.
- Have game nights – Jenga/surgery/cards.
- Celebrate events such as birthdays and festivals.
- If nothing else, a pack of beers and some chat time will work, too.
Here are some unconventional ways to make your workplace more creative…
2. Make them the boss of their own ideas
According to the book, “The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave” by Leigh Branham, money rarely motivates an employee’s departure. Feeling devalued and unrecognized is one of the main reasons why people leave — which shouldn’t be surprising, as feeling appreciated is a fundamental emotional need.
So at my startup, when an employee comes up with a good idea, we make him in charge of the planning, execution, and delivery of the idea. Everyone, including the CEO and the founders, will follow his lead.
Giving honest credit to an employee’s idea like this can give them a boost in their confidence levels and will leave them feeling valued and respected.
3. Keep their day interesting
Let’s be real, most of the work in a day is less than interesting. Necessary but uncreative tasks like documentation, filing and record keeping can drain your employees’ mental energy and if anything, makes them less focused.
One way to keep their day interesting is by helping them pursue other interests that they may have. This may seem counter-intuitive. Most of us think that when an employee is involved in too many things, they can’t be focused at work. It’s really not the case.
Organizing some edifying activities like learning a new language, playing guitar etc. during the work day will keep the day interesting no matter what the workload looks like, plus it will contribute to your employees’ personal development.
4. Paint the walls red
Nobody wants to work in a dungeon-like, sorry-looking place. Choosing lighting, colors and interiors that create an aesthetically-pleasing environment can really help the moods of the people.
Consider this: According to a study by researchers at Creighton University, people working in blue-colored-wall offices felt more centered and calm at work.
To make your employees’ environment more uplifting, motivating and conducive to happiness and productivity, you might think about including:
- Peppy and fun interiors
- Quirky quotes to look at
- Well-ventilated, spacious areas
- A no-desk system
Former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy said, “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
Those are great words for every organization to hire, work and lead by.
Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a fusion music aficionado, loves to play the guitar when he can.
Image Copyright: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo
Publish Date: May 5, 2016 5:00 AM
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