Pitfalls of Startup Team Building


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Rand Fishkin's presentation from Geekwire's Startup Day, October 25, 2013

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Pitfalls of Startup Team Building

  1. The Pitfalls of Team Building 8 Painful lessons learned from hiring, firing, mentoring, managing, losing, and working with people while building Moz’s 130+ person team. Rand Fishkin | October 2013
  2. No Need to Take Notes: http://bit.ly/mozstartupteam
  3. #1 “You can coach the head. You can’t coach the heart.” - Avinash Kaushik (@avinash)
  4. Startups often make the wrong choice
  5. Startups often make the wrong choice Many startups incorrectly hire & keep these folks And get rid of these folks rather than helping them grow
  6. Your Culture Is Not: “Work hard. Play hard.” Ping pong tables & beer in the fridge Inside jokes you have around the office Where you hang out after work A list of company values posted on the wall
  7. Your Culture Is: Who you hire, keep, & reward vs. who you don’t promote or fire (and why) The criteria you define (or are perceived to have created) for having or earning influence The values you choose to prioritize when things are hard (or when a value conflicts with an opportunity for revenue/funding)
  8. #2 If management is the only way up, we’re all f***’d.
  9. Team members at the same level should have similar salaries and influence – just different responsibilities. If Management is the Only Way Up, We’re All F’d
  10. How Can I Have Influence If I’m Not a Manager? Don’t let your role define your influence. Let your influence define your role. http://sarahbird.me/2013/09/07/influence/
  11. #3 Build a recruiting brand beyond your product brand.
  12. Startup communities are tiny and well-connected. If you don’t provide a great experience through this funnel… The people who have a bad time will tell their friends, colleagues, & coworkers.
  13. #4 Beware of bonuses, prizes, & other recruiting gimmicks vs. just doing the hard work
  14. We Tried Big Referrals to Get Engineers Original Blog Post from Our $24,000 Referral Program
  15. It Attracted Some Wrong Kinds of People
  16. And Worse, Created “Classes” of Employees at Moz
  17. #5 There’s no such thing as 10X engineers (or 10X anything)
  18. Belief in the Mythical 10X Hire Hurts Your Team
  19. #6 Build a vision-based framework that’s clear to everyone at the company
  20. Creating a Vision-Based Framework
  21. #7 Create expectations for performance, cadence, and culture early
  22. It’s Easy to Build Process Early; Hard to Change it Later Why?
  23. At Minimum, Answer These Five: 1) What are expectations for performance? How do we know if and when they change? And how do I know how I’m doing? 2) Who makes decisions on what, and how? 3) What information will be shared about company performance, and how often? 4) How does an idea become reality here? 5) What are examples of cultural traits we encourage vs. discourage?
  24. #8 Figure out a mechanism for regular feedback as you scale
  25. At Moz, We First Tried TinyPulse: TinyPulse
  26. We Moved to 15Five, and Love It: 15Five
  27. Download the slides: http://bit.ly/mozstartupteam
  28. Rand & Moz on the Web: We’re Hiring! http://moz.com/about/jobs My Blog (about startup-y stuff): http://moz.com/rand Twitter: @randfish | Google+: 111294201325870406922