Scaling Culture in a Fast-Growing Startup

Culture is one of my favorite topics as it’s so critical to successful organizations. I’ve seen OK cultures and I’ve seen amazing cultures — the amazing ones always grow faster and outperform their peers. Only, scaling a strong culture is hard as there’s much more complexity.

Here are a few thoughts on scaling culture:

Once the team grows beyond the co-founders, it’s time to start thinking about culture. As the startup finds product/market fit and a repeatable customer acquisition process, culture needs to be intentional.

What else? What are some more ideas for scaling culture in a fast-growing startup?

Video of the Week – Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

With the annual TED Conference this coming week, let’s look at one my favorite TED Talks – Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work. Enjoy!

From the talk, here’s the happiness advantage:
Better securing jobs
Better keeping jobs
Superior productivity
More resilient
Less burnout
Less turnover
Greater sales

From YouTube: We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.

5 Recruiting Resources for Entrepreneurs

Several entrepreneurs have asked for links to other resources on recruiting after posts on the Top 3 Hiring Mistakes, 5 Non-Standard Recruiting Tactics, and 7 Non-Standard Interview Questions. Here are five recruiting resources for entrepreneurs:

  1. How Startups Can Build a Recruiting Machine by David Skok
  2. Post-Traction, You Need to Spend 20% of Your Time Recruiting by Jason Lemkin
  3. How to Improve Hiring at Startups by Mark Suster
  4. Why Recruiting Isn’t Over When an Employee Accepts Your Offer by Mark Suster
  5. Turbocharge Your Recruiting Machine — Here’s How by First Round Capital

Recruiting is one of the most important skills for an entrepreneur and needs the appropriate attention. Read these resources and learn from others.

What else? What are some other good recruiting resources for entrepreneurs?

Top 3 Hiring Mistakes

Alright, now that we have 5 Non-Standard Recruiting Tactics and 7 Non-Standard Interview Questions let’s talk about hiring mistakes. As much as we work hard to build an excellent recruiting and hiring process, mistakes happen. Here are the top three hiring mistakes:

  1. Sacrificing Culture Fit – When the hiring manager and team feels pressure to deliver, and few candidates are available, people start talking about sacrificing culture fit. Don’t do it. Everything starts with culture fit.
  2. Rushing the Process – Assuming you’ll be working with this person for the next 2-3 years (if not more), that’s thousands of hours. Don’t you think you should spend several hours with the person in the hiring process, especially if they’re a manager (see Chronological In Depth Survey Interviews)?
  3. Not Moving Fast Enough When Ready – Great candidates don’t hang around for long. Once you’ve finished the process, and it’s the right person, move quickly and seal the deal. Don’t linger.

Don’t make these hiring mistakes. Ensure culture fit, follow the process, and move fast.

What else? What are some other common hiring mistakes?

Chronological In Depth Survey Interviews

Nearly 10 years ago I first learned about Topgrading and the chronological in depth survey interviews. Generally, the idea is to do an incredibly detailed interview of every past job for people in management and senior management positions. Start from college, regardless of stage of career, and ask deep probing questions. Find out how the person thinks and why they moved from position to position.

Here’s how to do chronological in depth survey interviews:

  • For each and every single job, ask about the following:
    Job title
    Start and end date
    Starting and ending compensation
    Roles and responsibilities
    State of affairs when joining
    Results and accomplishments
    Mistakes and failures
    Most enjoyable and least enjoyable aspects of the job
    Circumstances that led to change of jobs
    Manager name and phone number
    Manager strengths and weaknesses
    What manager would say about candidate’s strengths and weaknesses
    Names of direct reports, their strengths and weaknesses, and rate them A through F
  • After the jobs review sections ask questions about the following:
    Analysis skills
    Judgement/decision making
    Continuing education
    Stress management
    Interpersonal competencies

Plan for this process to take 3-4 hours, minimum. Hiring great people is one of the three most important things an entrepreneur does and chronological in depth survey interviews are key.

What else? What are some more thoughts on chronological in depth survey interviews?

The Daily Huddle

Over the years I’ve talked about the benefits of a daily huddle/scrum and it’s just as relevant today as 10 years ago. The premise is simple: get everyone together once a day and answer three simple questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • Do you have any roadblocks?

Pretty simple, right? This process is partly about the questions and mostly about connecting as a team. Between those questions there are a thousand nuances and details that come out. Connecting as a group is powerful, and communication is key.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the daily huddle?

Values Reflection at the End of Year

With the end of 2016 near, it’s time to reflect on the very core: values. Values are how we act when no one is looking. For the Atlanta Tech Village:

  • Be nice
  • Dream big
  • Pay it forward
  • Work hard/play hard

Check. Check. Check and check. Those core values feel right.

At a personal level, my company core values:

  • Positive
  • Self-starting
  • Supportive

Definitely. I want to spend time with people who are positive, self-starting, and supportive. A quick review of the values and everything feels right.

Here’s to closing out a great 2016. Happy New Year!