Recruitment Lessons Learned — Entrepreneur to CEO

Over the last six months scaling from a team of 3 to 21, has been the hardest, craziest and biggest learning curve of my life so far. Being an entrepreneur and being an effective CEO are two very different things, something I’ve learned the hard way. In my experience most startup lessons need to be learned through experience to be properly understood but I hope this series will help make your journey a little easier.

In this article I’m focusing on recruitment, what not to do, what can go wrong, what you should do and the awesome side of great recruitment.

Recruiting the wrong people

Its cliched but your team is the most important part of the business, recruiting is an art form, treat it as such, do not:

  • Hire friends.
  • Hire friends of friends.
  • Hire friends, of friends, of friends.
  • Hire people without checking references.
  • Take people, their experience and knowledge at face value.
  • Put someone in charge of recruitment and withdraw heavily from the process.

Of course each situation is different and has to be treated as such but as rule of thumb the above points should be avoided! Everything starts with recruitment, if you recruit the wrong people, you will:

  • Make them, you and the rest of the team extremely demotivated, unproductive and unhappy.
  • Lose time in training, communication, reviews and more….
  • Lose money in salaries, overheads and sales.
  • See little/no work.
  • Have to do the whole time consuming process again when someone leaves or you let them go.

Recruiting the right people

Investing in great recruitment practices is one of the best things you can do in creating a team who can take your startup to the moon and beyond. Here are a few things you should do towards that end:

  • Assess if you actually really need to recruit someone by seeing if you could absorb the tasks into current team members roles in a way that's not disruptive. A lot of people I know, myself included have hired because having a manager in x position seemed like the thing to do, it wasn’t assessed properly if we needed someone to fill that position, always assess!
  • Create a clear job description of the role, responsibilities and deliverables expected.
  • Make sure to have at-least 3 interviews where the prospective team member meets and is assessed by multiple parties in the company, not just the CEO and line manager.
  • Set clear expectations for the new team members, whats expected of them and what they can expect from you.
  • Create a clear and structured training period, plan and reviews sessions.
  • Take everyone on a 1 month to 3 month review period where it’s clearly understood if its not working then they can be let go.
  • Make sure the new team members manager understands their responsibilities and has expectations set with the new team member.
  • Have an open door policy and a monthly meet so the new team member can meet with you to discuss how there doing/ feedback.

One thing is clear to me now if you invest time and thought into the recruitment process you can avoid most of problems that arise from bad recruitment and build a team of ninjas who come to work happy, are productive and who are in the trenches with you!

Each situation, team and company is different, this article is by no means an encyclopedic rule book for recruiting as a startup CEO but my key learning points and realizations from the last few months. I hope it can be of help in your crazy journey!

The next article in this series will focus on management and leadership lessons, once you’ve recruited the right people you’ve won 10% of the battle but 90% is learning to be a great manager and leader….

Written by , Founder & Managing Director —

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