Thursday, June 3, 2010

Building a world class team - Part 1

When you are starting a company or launching a new project, you absolutely need to hire the best team you can. Everyone talks a lot about they only hire "the best and the brightest" but really, what does that mean and how do you REALLY do it? And quite frankly, even if you do hire the "best" if you aren't creating an culture and environment for these people to'll be replacing the best and brightest before you know it.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be going much deeper into this topic and giving you a few tips/tricks to help you build a team that can not only accomplish all of your professional goals...but have some fun while doing it. You can catch these posts here or find them as a guest blog on "VentureFizz"!

Without further adieu......Part 1 - Who are "The best and brightest"

At first pass, you'd think you can measure this by things like type of degree, pedigree, track record, etc etc. And in some ways, yes that's absolutely true if you are looking for a textbook definition of "best and brightest"....we however are not, we are looking for a team of folks that you can build a company or organization around. Great companies always have a solid foundation of founders and/or early contributors. I'd argue that companies like Microsoft, Google (ahem!), Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, etc were founded and built with some of the best minds on the planet. Were some of them trained in elite Ivy League Schools.....absolutely, but not all of them.....and that's the key to truly hiring the "best and brightest". Find the best possible people regardless of anything other than their ability to be successful in your organization.

Now that we've recognized there is more to this than the textbook definition of "best and brightest".....let's dig in little deeper and identify criteria you can use when building your next great team

Hiring "Experts" - Depending on the project you may need some kind of expertise on the team to help design and drive product development. The trick here is NOT to get caught up in only hiring people who have "done it before". You want the best possible people for your project, focusing on their potential, ability to come up with innovative ideas thrive in your environment will ensure you are able to build a world class team. The "best and the brightest" candidate blows you away with their creativity, their ability to communicate their ideas clearly and will convince you they are the going to help make your vision a reality.

Ability to learn and master new skills quickly - The best hires can learn new things and change direction on a dime. These people don't worry about gaps in their skill set or areas they'll need to learn...the thrive on this challenge and are looking for opportunities to grow! Finding the potential employees who can learn new things and roll with the punches is REALLY know why? Because everyone wants them!! You ask the best engineers on the planet "What's your favorite programming language"......some will say Java, some will say Python, but the BEST, the absolute best will tell you that programming languages are just tools and they'll use whatever tool they need to accomplish the goal.

Willing to do whatever it takes to succeed - Do I even need to explain this one? The best employees get the job done, period. They don't complain if they have to attend a trade show, they write code over breakfast and are happy do their own testing, they answer the door if there is no one manning the front desk in the office. The best people, don't care about what they have to do, they want to succeed and will do whatever it takes to make the team/project successful.

Top talent attracts more top talent - Great people refer their friends and help you hire other great people. This is like Recruiting 101....hire a great person, ask them who they know and hire those folks too. There is more to it than that though....really, the BEST people draw attention to your team and/or project. They are asked to speak at conferences where other great people roam, they are interviewed by the local press and attend industry events were they are viewed as the expert in their field. At many companies, employee referrals frequently represent over 50% of the new hires.......enough said right?

Ok, we've identified "The Best" and why you want to hire we'll discuss how to hire them.