Every company says that people are their most important asset, but I’d argue it’s even more important for start-ups. In a new business you can be light on money or just getting started with customers, but you can’t move ahead without amazing talent. At Introhive I spend a lot of time recruiting and retaining the smart people who work here. This is what I’ve learned:
- It’s about people not stuff. We’ve all been tempted in previous start-ups to focus too much effort on the stuff in the work environment. Do we have the right free drinks and snacks? It’s been 2 months since we’ve done paintball! Reflecting back, I think the work environments that we’ve collectively enjoyed the most were the ones with the right people, not just the right things. Joining a company is like getting married. You’re going to be spending more time with your coworkers than with your family. It’s important to pay close attention to bringing in people with great energy, who help others, and are fun to be around.
- Choose those people wisely. A family member of mine once said that if you make sure that that you choose a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Making absolutely sure when people are hired that they absolutely love their job is key to creating a great work environment and has the side effect that it will draw more people like that to the company. This starts before hiring by recruiting and choosing people who are positive and speak about their work with passion and excitement. It’s infectious.
- Treat them like people not employees. When you have passionate people who love what they do and are clear on their goals, it’s best to just stay out of their way. Micromanaging can stifle drive and creativity. It’s sometimes better to give advice on what you may have done differently in their shoes. It’s important to keep them empowered to decide on their own and to avoid decision by committee or continual approvals. When people are empowered to make decisions, they do, and they like it. That empowerment results in accelerating the business.
If you assemble a team of great people who love what they do and give them a chance to work with people they like and respect, they will feel empowered to make incredible things happen. You can feel the energy in the company, and you just can’t help but to create a winning environment that attracts the best.