29 April 2016

As a startup, your culture will never be stronger than it is today, with just the two or three of you.
So how do you grow the team without diluting that?lawrence jones mbe

The small team of founders are the business. You represent what you want your business to be and what you want your business to be known for.

With this in mind, you’ve got to get your core values in place.

If you haven’t already, sit down away from everything, step back and separately write down the 10 key core values of how you think you are in work, how you do business.

Then, whittle them down to five that you agree on. These five will be the bedrock of everything from that point.

Then comes the purpose. How can you set goals and stay true to your culture without a well-communicated purpose in place?

A purpose is a goal you can never hit. But whatever you write down is going to shape you. Every team member can see how they can contribute to the business.

Disney’s purpose is “to make people happy”. It’s simple but effective and is clear to see in everything they do. There are no tangible routes to achieving this, it’s an on-going reason for your business to exist.

It took me a week to write down my business’s purpose and I almost lost it on a piece of paper in the Maldives!

Once you organise your values and your purpose, you can go on your own journey and do your own thing. You hire and fire based on these – it’s that simple. You do not hire someone unless they fit into the company culture that you’re creating.

Skills don’t matter as much. Skills you can teach.

Psychometric testing helps you to establish how people are motivated and how they blend with the personalities that you already have within the team. It also enables you to feed back to the applicant to share with them what the test shows about their strengths and weaknesses, to help them grow – whether that’s within your business or not.

Over the years I have had to explain this approach; whilst we’re open to anyone to apply, we hire based on our core values and culture to ensure that the new recruit is happy within the team. Imagine how unhappy you’d be if you joined a team in which your personality clashed with each other employee?

I learnt an important lesson on interviewing people from Richard Branson. Branson would ask people if they’d seen the view from the far end of the island and then walk them there so he could ask all the questions he wanted to ask them.

The key is taking people out of their comfort zone. With one of my employees, I took them on a seven-mile walk in Wales with my two dogs. With another, I called her up when she came back from travelling the world, I flew her from London to Verbier and she stayed there with my family for a good few weeks.

Finding the right people is not about a simple interview, it’s deeper than that. Here, we call it the honeymoon period. You need to take people out of their comfort zone to find out who they truly are. If you tell someone what you want them to be while sitting in front of a desk, they can fake it and that’s not healthy for your business or the employee in the long run.

It’s not an easy task and it is a scary step to take as a startup adding new people to the team, but once you find the right fit for your business that’s when the fun begins!

We’re looking to add 100 new recruits to the team over the next 18 months or so. We’re holding recruitment days and careers fairs to meet as many people as we can. If you want to apply, register on our recruitment website. I’ll share updates and the lessons that we learn along this recruitment journey.

I’d love to hear your tips for recruitment.

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