Building a team over a cup of tea

The basics of hiring the right people and how to grow with them: Lessons from NSUSN

Hiring the right people for a startup to build the right team determines how well it will grow. A founder requires a foolproof strategy to map the senior employees or CXO’s of their startup. It becomes easier to execute these strategies with a planned approach. But what are the strategies? As simple as it may sound, grabbing a cup of tea with the potential employees always works as a good start. Oftentimes, interactions around hiring tend to be very formal for professional reasons. But taking an informal approach and setting up tea dates with them can be beneficial if the conversation centers your startup’s idea, vision and ambitions while seeking their advice and opinion on it. These encounters can help a founder find the right people for their startups and build a good team culture eventually.  

Setting up tea dates

“Do not underestimate the power of chaa” says Sayeed Nasir, Head of Talent Acquisition and Organizational Development at bKash Limited, in a mentorship session with the inaugural cohort of NSUSN. According to him, these tea dates can help build an effective communication between a founder and their potential employees. If you are a founder wanting to hire someone in a senior position, you will probably be seeking someone who has adequate professional experience. So, if you are talking to someone who is already working somewhere, you shouldn’t expect to hire them next week. Your goal should be to start a conversation and build a relationship with them for the long term. If you have a good story about why your company is interesting, and you actively get to know them and their ambitions, they’re very likely to think of you in a few months or years when they are thinking about their next move. When the time is right, ask them if they will be interested in working with you. This is how teams are brought together. 

For early-stage founders, it is important to understand that service holders are very sensitive about their job security and their reluctance to join a startup often stems from that. Talk about your company goals, your vision and your dreams with them. Making them believe in your initiative will be an effective way to persuade them into considering your startup as a viable option. If the CXO’s have inquiries about job security, one of the things that can be discussed in such conversations is Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This is something a founder should know when they participate in conversations with a potential employee having concerns about ownership in a startup. 

What is ESOP?

According to Corporate Finance Institute, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) refers to an employee benefit plan that gives the employees an ownership stake in the company. The employer allocates a certain percentage of the company’s stock shares to each eligible employee at no upfront cost. The distribution of shares may be based on the employee’s pay scale, terms of service, or some other basis of allocation. The shares for an employee stock ownership plan are held in a trust unit for safety and growth until the employee exits the company or retires. After their exit, the shares are bought back by, and thus returned to, the company for further distribution to other employees.

The ultimate goal of the plan is to align the interests of the employees with the interests of the company’s shareholders. Giving the employees a stake in the company enables them to think in an ‘owner’ point of view, choosing the best possible strategies in every scenario, positively influencing the overall efficiency of the team. Andy Rachleff, President and CEO of Wealthfront, a software-based financial advisor, suggests that making a well designed employee equity plan is a must as it helps the startup to –

  • Align the risk and reward of employees betting on an unproven company
  • Reward long-term value creation and thinking by employees
  • Encourage employees to think about the company’s holistic success

The basics of developing a good team culture

“For any startup to succeed, having a team that takes ownership of their contribution is key. A founder needs to make sure that the team members share the same strong vision as them.” Says Sifat Hasan, who is a Global HR Business Partner at Gojek, in a mentorship session on Team Building with NSUSN. Teams like this will continuously search for ways to improve. So, underestimating the importance of building a good team culture may not be the best. But what are the first factors to consider for developing a good team culture?

Culture comes from the top: The executives and senior management determine what the culture of the company will look like. Agile, purpose driven and a team-oriented communication strategy can help breed an entrepreneurial mindset among employees.

Having OKRs: OKRs are Objective and Key results. It is a goal-setting framework to help the team define and track objectives and their outcomes. It is an excellent framework that helps track team progress and create alignment within the organization.

Co-create core values: Co-creating core values with your team, engaging them in the process with the vision to transform together goes a long way in this case.

Don’t forget to share every little success with the whole team. Always stay in active communication with them. Praise in public, criticize in private, but call out in public. Constantly improve yourself to raise the team’s performance standards everyday. This is how good teams become great teams! 

The above discussion is taken from the mentorship sessions on HR & Team Building by mentors Sifat Hasan, who is a Global HR Business Partner at Gojek and Sayeed Nasir, Head of Talent Acquisition and Organizational Development at bKash Limited.

Inaugural Cohort

Inaugural Cohort