Building a business is a wild experience. There are many thrills and many disappointment along the way, but the happiest part is watching the talent that is developed, the confidence that is grown and the relationships that are created. By far the most exciting part of building a business is watching the success of your team.
Today we passed the 100 team-member mark.
With 100 people in the team today, what should we be focusing on? As founders, our only job is to make our team successful. Simple.
Hiring the next 1,000 people and getting it right will be largely the job of our foundation 100 employees. We’ve learned a lot about teams, and it’s our job to share what we know so others can be successful.
These are my top tips for workforce success.
Honesty is the only universal trait between successful teams
Lots of elements can contribute to good teams. But every successful team is radically honest with each other. I don’t mean, “I broke a plate” honesty. I mean, “I think your work is bad” honesty. Telling your co-workers when you’re not happy, and building a culture of valuing candid feedback is the most important factor in all of the successful teams that have been created at Tanda.
When teams are unproductive or unhappy, there are usually a number of subtleties that can be impossible to understand as an outsider. Honest teams relentlessly confront these subtleties and constantly eliminate them.
Hire people who won’t get offended at work-related criticism and can deliver honest feedback. Encourage this behavior by being radically open yourself.
Financial capital is never a replacement for human capital
At the beginning, we made a pact to use all the time we would otherwise spend dealing with investors on hiring and developing people with great potential. We still haven’t raised a cent of capital.
I think this is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. Not just because business is going well, but being part of an extremely talented team is its own reward.
You can’t spend money to make problems go away. We’ve wasted stupid amounts of money trying to solve problems using experts. Every time, we’ve been disappointed. A solid talent pipeline full of hungry people who want to solve problems is the only sustainable way to grow.
Building a talent pipeline is hard. In fact, we haven’t really solved this problem fully. (If you’d like to work at Tanda, click here). It’s a slow-burn that leads to long-term success and makes life at work far more rewarding.
Process is not a replacement for talent
This was hard for me because I am the most process-oriented of our 4 co-founders. I like writing plans rules and processes. We started straight out of university where our business degrees had taught us a lot of theory and zero practical applications. We over-engineered so many things we shouldn’t have. We thought we could build teams and run them like a model-t production line. You can’t.
Hire good people and set them KPI’s that contribute to your business goals. Then get out of the way. It turns out the most talented people like getting things done to a very high standard, and process doesn’t usually help them, and where it is helpful, you’re probably not the best person to create it if you’re not doing the work yourself.
If you can’t set a good KPI or articulate the results you want from that role, you’re not ready to hire.
Things are simple, until you over complicate them.
I recently went through the pages of company policy we have accumulated over the years and eliminated almost all of it. What was left fits on a single page.
When you’re starting out, a lot of people tell you about complicated things you need to mitigate risks and make sure your company is robust. When you don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s easy to listen to these people. The fact is, most of these people sell legal jargon for a living.
Instead we focus on hiring smart people and letting them use their common-sense. Today we have less policies and procedures than we did at 10 staff.
This excessive policy wasn’t helpful for anyone. Keep things simple, and your team will get more shit done.