Building a Top Team: Part 2

Tactics in Managing Talent — Featuring Glen Coates, Founder of Handshake

Glen Coates, Founder and CEO of Handshake

Missed Part 1 of Glen’s advice on building a top team? Read it here.

Managing Your Team
Handshake built great culture based on accountability and transparency. They set expectations, communicate across teams, and avoid surprises. Their formula for success isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a commitment from leadership, and sticking to it, that breeds success.

1. Design the Results
Set KPIs that align the team with company goals. In Glen’s words, “Ladder up to company goals.” It should be crystal clear how team results directly and positively impact company goals.

2. Communicate the Results
Managers should be vocal ambassadors for their team to the rest of the company. It’s not uncommon for a disconnect between teams, such as sales understanding the state of development. Each team should communicate their value to the other; the more everyone feels they are on a common mission with a shared goal, the better.

3. Forecast the Results
Glen hates surprises and hates being off on projections. Missing the mark is a gut-punch, but even when you outperform, you’re now accountable to repeat it. Be diligent and logical in your forecasting.

4. Deliver the Results
Let everyone know when you hit your mark, and work out the problems when you miss. Be transparent.

5. Do It Without Blowing the Budget
“Reasonable results with reasonable resources.”
Be cognizant of payback period and your unit economics.

Glen at Handshake HQ with SVB’s pre-seed founder community

Team Health
Glen points out that the above metrics don’t take into account the potential for recurring success. So, what’s the best indicator of a positive repeat performance? At Handshake, it’s all about team happiness and engagement. Here’s how they get there:

1. Hire Better than Half the Team
Always be improving. Aim to find new hires who will raise your average performance.

2. Regular Performance Feedback
Identify performance priorities, and then use that yardstick to measure success on a monthly basis. Don’t be shy about noting individual weaknesses, and then use the opportunity to inspire the employee to rise to the challenge.

3. B Players: Up or Out
If someone is doing the minimum or barely scraping by, identify their struggles and put together development plans that set straightforward goals. Two options: your employee hits the outlined goals and moves up — or it’s simply not a fit, and you shouldn’t hesitate to part ways.

4. Career Plans
Take the time to invest in your people and their personal motivations. Top performers often seek a clear path to growth and crave new challenges. Empower your people with options and put together development plans.

5. Employee NPS
Net promoter scores aren’t just for measuring customer success; they also can be a great auditing tool for employee happiness. Create an atmosphere that fosters positive thinking and engage detractors to recognize their patterns of negativity and give them opportunities to improve.