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How to Build, Lead, and Scale a Nimble Team

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WeFestival entrepreneurs share hiring and leadership strategies to design a culture that matters.

Published in: Leadership & Management

How to Build, Lead, and Scale a Nimble Team

  1. 1. HOW TOBUILD, LEAD, & SCALE A NIMBLE TEAM W e F e s t i v a l E n t r e p r e n e u r s o n D e s i g n i n g a C u l t u r e t h a t M a t t e r s
  2. 2. This presentation consists of insights from Connect and Be Heard: An exclusive interview series profiling female founders and investors.
  3. 3. Table of Contents Page 4 Page 34 Page 42 Page 54 Page 59 Page 71 Page 80 Ch 1 - Building Your Team: How, When, and Who to Hire Ch 2 - Setting Company Goals: How to Shape Your Startup’s Roadmap Ch 3 - The Ownership Culture: How to Lead a Team of Entrepreneurs Ch 4 - Always Default to Transparency: How to Maintain Open Communication Through Scale Ch 5 - Commit to Holistic Development: How to Shape a Value Driven Culture Ch 6 - Fulfilling Your Responsibility as a Leader: How to Maintain Your Company’s Pulse Dig Deeper
  4. 4. Building Your Team How, When, and Who to Hire Chapter 1
  5. 5. Ask these three questions to determine if it’s the right time to hire a new team member: Inspired by Kellee Khalil, Loverly
  6. 6. Ask these three questions to determine if it’s the right time to hire a new team member: What are our goals? Inspired by Kellee Khalil, Loverly
  7. 7. Ask these three questions to determine if it’s the right time to hire a new team member: What is blocking us from achieving them? Inspired by Kellee Khalil, Loverly
  8. 8. Ask these three questions to determine if it’s the right time to hire a new team member: What are our resource constraints? Inspired by Kellee Khalil, Loverly
  9. 9. Despite being capable of running multiple parts of your business — like designing your product or sending marketing emails — spreading yourself thin is never going to be as effective as having talented people who own those categories. “If you are trying to build an industry changing company you need a team that is going to help you win.” Inspired by Ashley Merrill, Lunya
  10. 10. “Build the team for the company you want.” Inspired by Ashley Merrill, Lunya
  11. 11. As you grow, hiring team members with specialized skill sets drastically influences the way your customers view and interact with your brand. “Each time you hire an expert you’ll be capable of creating a depth of experience that you can never achieve on your own. You have to give your brand a life beyond yourself.” Inspired by Ashley Merrill, Lunya
  12. 12. Pragmatism is vital for team members who join young startups because they’ll often operate as a department of one. Ask potential hires ‘Say you’re asked to do something you’ve never done before? How would you handle that?’ You need resourceful team members who will seek new answers rather than being paralyzed by what they don’t know. Inspired by Grace Garey, Watsi
  13. 13. “At a startup, you have to be a person who scales.” Inspired by Grace Garey, Watsi TWEET THIS
  14. 14. Hire Epic Humans. Instead of saying we need to hire an engineer or product designer, ask, ‘Who is the type of human we are looking for in the world? Who is the type of person that we want to work with?’ You need to know an individual’s integrity, working style, and the contribution they hope to make in the world before bringing them onto your team. Inspired by Megan O’Connor, Human Ventures
  15. 15. “Skills can be taught. Who you are as a person is by far the most important part of hiring.” Inspired by Megan O’Connor, Human Ventures
  16. 16. Be authentic during the interview process by asking individuals questions that move beyond their resumes. Uncover the root of their motivation to do why they do what they do and the forces that drove them to where they are today. Inspired by Kimberly Dawson, K.Dawson Company
  17. 17. “Ask someone a question because you really want to know the answer, not just to check it off your list.” Inspired by Kimberly Dawson, K.Dawson Company
  18. 18. Especially when your startup is pioneering an initiative that’s never been done before, it’s vital to hire adaptable team members who are passionate about your mission. Rather than thinking ‘We need this role filled,’ think: ‘This is an awesome person. How do we best utilize their skill sets?’ Inspired by Brooke Moreland and Sara Chipps, Jewelbots
  19. 19. Adaptability is the most important trait to hire for. Inspired by Brooke Moreland and Sara Chipps, Jewelbots TWEET THIS
  20. 20. Follow the 80/20 Rule Hiring 80% of candidates feel entitled, like they can take the job of their choice and be paid $1 million on day one. The other 20% are genuine builders who are passionate about your mission. Your job is to identify the 1% of the 20% who are right for your company. Inspired by Amanda Kahlow, 6sense
  21. 21. “Keep your hiring bar as high as possible and never lower it. One toxic person can destroy the roots of your organization.” Inspired by Amanda Kahlow, 6sense
  22. 22. While your personal camaraderie with a team member is critical, it’s equally important to consider how a new hire will get along with the specific team he or she is joining. Bring other departments into the interview process to assess whether an individual is additive to their workflow. Inspired by Kimberly Dawson, K.Dawson Company
  23. 23. Implement a multi-level hiring process by instituting: Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  24. 24. Implement a multi-level hiring process by instituting: Multiple rounds of interviews Recruiters and original hiring managers should conduct the first interview in-person or via phone. Depending on the role, the individual will move through interviews with other team members. When possible, it’s best that all potential candidates have a final interview with your company’s founders. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  25. 25. Implement a multi-level hiring process by instituting: Assignments Ask potential hires to complete a task for the team that he or she is joining. This enables you to gain a clear understanding of how an individual works rather than assuming. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  26. 26. Implement a multi-level hiring process by instituting: Social gathering Host a small happy hour or presentation where the potential hire can interact with multiple members of your team. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  27. 27. At the end of the interview process, it’s vital that your entire company has high conviction about bringing a new team member into your organization; Meaning that everyone thinks ‘Yes! We absolutely need this person on our team right now.’ Hiring may be a long and stressful process, but bringing on the wrong team member will cause future challenges and stress. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  28. 28. “If it’s not a ‘Hell Yes!’ it should be a no.”Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  29. 29. Your hiring process doesn’t end when you recruit a new team member. Institute a thorough onboarding process to help individuals assimilate into your culture. Try these strategies to streamline their transition: Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  30. 30. Your hiring process doesn’t end when you recruit a new team member. Institute a thorough onboarding process to help individuals assimilate into your culture. Try these strategies to streamline their transition: Pair every new hire with a company buddy who will show them around the office, introduce them to the team, and take them to coffee. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  31. 31. Your hiring process doesn’t end when you recruit a new team member. Institute a thorough onboarding process to help individuals assimilate into your culture. Try these strategies to streamline their transition: A history lesson with the founders to gain a thorough understanding of your team’s founding mission. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  32. 32. Your hiring process doesn’t end when you recruit a new team member. Institute a thorough onboarding process to help individuals assimilate into your culture. Try these strategies to streamline their transition: A few days spent attending company meetings to understand what’s happening in the organization and gain a deep understanding of how each department runs and the way his or her role will influence it. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  33. 33. Decentralize Hiring as Your Company Scales Once you’ve proven product market fit and set up the foundation of your startup, you need to hire internal recruiters to help you scale. The goal is to create a culture of employee driven sourcing and referrals. “Your internal recruiters aren’t responsible for hiring every position in your company. They’re here to teach each of your team members how to be the best recruiter for his or her team.” Inspired by Shadiah Sigala, HoneyBook
  34. 34. Setting Company Goals How to Shape Your Startup’s Roadmap Chapter 2
  35. 35. Set OKRs - Objectives and Key Results - to establish quarterly goals for individual team members, departments, and your company as a whole that will enable you to achieve your overall mission. Assess your progress with your management team every quarter and twice annually for individual team members. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  36. 36. Individual performance reviews should be conducted with a team member and their manager. The goal is to answer these three questions in every meeting. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  37. 37. Individual performance reviews should be conducted with a team member and their manager. The goal is to answer these three questions in every meeting: What contributions did you make during the last six months? Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  38. 38. Individual performance reviews should be conducted with a team member and their manager. The goal is to answer these three questions in every meeting: What were your most significant achievements? Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  39. 39. Individual performance reviews should be conducted with a team member and their manager. The goal is to answer these three questions in every meeting: Where can you grow in the next six months? Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  40. 40. Utilize a performance review system to help measure and reward your team’s contributions. Try 15Five: An employee engagement software that enables individuals to personally review their performance and receive feedback from peers and managers. These reviews should be conducted by team members on a weekly basis to demonstrate how they are making progress towards their goals and the challenges they faced along the way. Promptly respond to provide necessary feedback and support to their inquiries. Inspired by Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
  41. 41. “Self evaluation, peer evaluation, and a review from a team member’s direct report enables a 360 degree view of how he or she is performing, how they are being received by their peers, and the areas where you can help them improve.” Inspired by Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
  42. 42. The Ownership Culture How to Lead a Team of Entrepreneurs Chapter 3
  43. 43. The first step to empowering your team members to feel and operate like owners is uncovering their strengths and weaknesses. Identify what excites individuals and then place them in the right environment for them to shine. A deep understanding of your team members’ talents enables you to help them go farther faster. Inspired by Nicole Glaros, Techstars
  44. 44. Leadership is about paying attention to the details. Inspired by Nicole Glaros, Techstars TWEET THIS
  45. 45. Put Your Team Members in Charge While it’s always important to be a support system for your team, individuals need to be empowered to make on the ground decisions. Give team members full responsibility to embrace their roles by saying: ‘This is your decision. I’m here to help you. But at the end of the day, you need to make the decision. It’s totally up to you.’ Inspired by Nicole Glaros, Techstars
  46. 46. “When you give people the space they need to excel they do. Individuals attitudes completely change when they realize that the success or failure of a project is solely in their hands.” Inspired by Nicole Glaros, Techstars
  47. 47. Especially when you are a small startup, every team member must be responsible for driving a piece of daily strategy and operations to help the company achieve it’s goals. Implement a routine structure where every team member is working to achieve a specific objective. They are responsible for outlining goals for their area of the business, executing, involving the team when necessary, and presenting progress at weekly meetings. “This promotes a sense of real ownership because everyone is building what they own.” Inspired by Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier, LOLA
  48. 48. To maximize every individual’s output make it clear that ownership and teamwork aren’t mutually exclusive. Create and nurture an environment where the two can coexist. Individuals should be empowered to spearhead projects while feeling entirely supported by their peers and managers. Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  49. 49. “Team members should be able to own their roles without feeling like they’re in a silo. No one should be afraid to ask for help.” Inspired by Adrian Granzella Larssen, The Muse
  50. 50. For new and young team members especially, it’s critical to develop their confidence to empower them to act like owners. “When a team member in a new role comes to you and asks ‘What should I do? Can you help me with this?’ The first thing you should say is ‘What would you do if I wasn’t here?’ Most of the time, that’s the right decision.” Inspired by Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
  51. 51. Creating an open and honest culture where team members feel empowered to contribute is equally rooted in founders exercising a democratized approach to leadership. Always lead your team with equal and mutual respect. Inspired by Kimberly Dawson, K.Dawson Company
  52. 52. “Don’t look at yourself as the boss because you own a company. You can’t think ‘I’m in charge and everyone works for me.’ You’re all working together. Your job is to lead and organize. Be reflective and ask yourself: ‘How would I want this company to be run if I wasn’t running it?’ The only way you can be successful is when your team believes that good ideas can come from anywhere and that everyone’s voice is heard and respected at the same level.” Inspired by Kimberly Dawson, K.Dawson Company
  53. 53. Trust your team to get the job done. You can’t scale a culture of ownership when your company is regulated by rigid policies and procedures. Treat your team members with re- spect by giving them the freedom to work in the office or remotely, during the hours that are best for them, and offer unlimited paid time off. Inspired by Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
  54. 54. Always Default to Transparency How to Maintain Open Communication Through Scale Chapter 4
  55. 55. From an always open door policy to visible calendars, make transparency a priority at your startup. Especially as a small team, it’s important to be very honest and share as much as you can about what you’re working on if you expect it go both ways. As a founder, you’re responsible for understanding what everyone is working on to continue a conversation about your goals and how you’re going to achieve them. Inspired by Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier, LOLA
  56. 56. While you should always be open to sharing information if a team member asks, topics like your cash flow don’t need to be overly vocalized. Create an environment where your team can focus on their goals and eliminate stress when possible. Inspired by Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier, LOLA
  57. 57. Transparency is about more than making information accessible and available to your team. It’s vital that information is digestible. “It’s really important not to set audacious goals and then opaquely give a team member an objective without being clear about how his or her contribution is forwarding your mission. You can’t expect people to connect the dots all the way up. Your team needs to be able to look at a very transparent representation of what you are doing, where you are going, how you performing against that goal, and then see exactly how their piece fits in. It’s very motivating and establishes a strong sense of trust that nobody has any more information than anyone else. We’re all in this together.” Inspired by Grace Garey, Watsi
  58. 58. Radical transparency is particularly important as you scale and have distributed teams. Make it a habit to conduct open meetings with your entire team where you discuss company goals, progress, and updates. Inspired by Milena Berry, PowerToFly
  59. 59. Commit to Holistic Development How to Shape a Values Driven Culture Chapter 5
  60. 60. Stimulate your team’s creativity with these three strategies: Inspired by Brittany Hodak, ZinePak and Per Diems Against Poverty
  61. 61. Stimulate your team’s creativity with these three strategies: Goal sheets: Encourage and support your team members setting and achieving personal and professional goals. Inspired by Brittany Hodak, ZinePak and Per Diems Against Poverty
  62. 62. Stimulate your team’s creativity with these three strategies: Creativity stipends: Every quarter award your team members $250 to spend on a creative activity of their choice (I.e. Ceramics classes or tennis lessons) Inspired by Brittany Hodak, ZinePak and Per Diems Against Poverty
  63. 63. Stimulate your team’s creativity with these three strategies: Superfan stipends : Provide another $250 for individuals to attend an event of their choice (ZinePak is built for superfans. You can design this program to best fit your team.) Inspired by Brittany Hodak, ZinePak and Per Diems Against Poverty
  64. 64. “If people are creative outside of their jobs they’ll be more creative inside their jobs.” Inspired by Brittany Hodak, ZinePak and Per Diems Against Poverty
  65. 65. Institute a Culture Captain program where every month a different team member coordinates events — from birthday parties to movie screenings — to assemble the team for fun activities. In addition to fostering camaraderie, the program develops team members’ operational capacity to plan events and manage a budget. Inspired by Brittany Hodak, ZinePak and Per Diems Against Poverty
  66. 66. “In one way, activities have nothing to do with the job. In another way, they’re everything.” Inspired by Brittany Hodak, ZinePak and Per Diems Against Poverty
  67. 67. Establish giving as a founding tenet of your organization. “Giving isn’t about doing community service once a month. It’s about giving ourselves fully to everything we do — To our customers, product, and back to the community. It’s about how we give to each other. We can’t just look at ourselves. We have to look at everything around us.” Inspired by Amanda Kahlow, 6sense
  68. 68. “Giving is about showing up as your full, best, 100% self in every moment.” Inspired by Amanda Kahlow, 6sense
  69. 69. Your role as an entrepreneur provides a unique opportunity to “see where someone wants to be in their life and help them raise and attain their goals. Even if you don’t have it all figured out, you can be a force to help someone be the best person they can be.” Inspired by Heather Hartnett, Human Ventures
  70. 70. As your company scales, it’s important to recognize that each individual on your team — whether they’re an intern or a co-founder — is working diligently to make the strongest contribution possible. Recognize their achievments by writing weekly thank you notes to team members who are making an impact and instituting company traditions that outwardly acknowledge and celebrate their work. Inspired by Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.
  71. 71. Fulfilling Your Responsibility as a Leader How to Maintain Your Company’s Pulse Chapter 6
  72. 72. Embrace the Awkward Conversation As the leader of your team, you’re responsible for giving individuals honest feedback. The foundation is developing a strong sense of trust that you have their back. The most effective way to deliver it is focusing on constructive, non-judgemental, and unemotional observations. Avoid burning bridges or starting arguments by being honest, using the right tone, and orientation. Inspired by Nicole Glaros, Techstars
  73. 73. “Feedback is about helping someone get better and stronger, not tearing them down.” Inspired by Nicole Glaros, Techstars
  74. 74. While strategies can help you best lead your team, it’s wise to prepare for an imperfect path. “All companies would be perfect except they employ people. People are unpredictable and emotional. All best plans go awry. You can have the perfect business plan, the perfect hiring plan, and the perfect execution plan but your employees have bad days. They act out. They have surprising events come up. If you aren’t in the headspace to deal with the unexpected, all of the best plans you’ve made don’t matter.” Inspired by Rebecca Kaden, Maveron
  75. 75. As a founder, it is your duty to maintain team chemistry which is the foundation of your company’s culture. “When you have a pain in the pit of your stomach that a team member isn’t working out don’t try to force it.” Inspired by Kellee Khalil, Loverly
  76. 76. “When someone shows you their true colors, believe them.” Inspired by Amanda Kahlow, 6sense
  77. 77. While your outward role as a leader will always be guiding and motivating your team, the most telling part of your company’s evolution is your ability to continually grow as a founder. Constantly strive to balance your emotional, mental, and physical energy to optimize your potential. “Only when you have those two building blocks, the emotional and the physical, can you harness your mental and intellectual energy to go the distance as a leader.” Inspired by Camille Ricketts, First Round Capital
  78. 78. It is undeniable that the stress of launching and scaling a business can only be grasped by fellow builders. However, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is a choice. Inspired by Elham AyoubZadeh, Zvelle
  79. 79. “You have to manage your psyche while managing your business; Sometimes every hour. Don’t get too excited about the highs or too down on the lows. Every day, whatever it is that you’re making, it is your choice to be an entrepreneur. Knowing and embracing that choice puts you in a place of power.” Inspired by Elham AyoubZadeh, Zvelle
  80. 80. INSPIRED BY the founders and investors in the WeFestival community? Join them on Slack and learn more about their experiences in their exclusive Connect and Be Heard interviews.
  81. 81. CONNECT WITH US Tell us what you think Jenna@33voices.com Presentation by Chase Jennings Insights by Jenna Abdou

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