I recently responded to the following question on Quora. A founder asked: [What are] things a single founder should do to build a good team, when trying to build a team after 4 years of starting up?
To answer that question in further detail, I’d like to focus on building the senior management team, which in turn determines how the rest of the organization is developed.
First, you need to start with your aspirations for the company (to build a big company with high growth, to focus on organic growth versus funded growth, etc.). That will determine where the company is heading and the type of senior team that your company will need in place in order to get there, including whether or not you’re the right leader for the long-haul. You then need to examine your own personal aspirations as the founder and decide a) Whether you want to remain as the leader; and b) What type of team you want to build. Hopefully, your decisions will match the needs of the company.
Then you need to examine your current team to identify the gaps in skills. Hiring new senior team members can be pretty traumatic to the existing team members. Some may have expectations that they will be considered for senior positions, even when they are clearly not qualified. Some will take issue with having a management layer between them and you.
In addition, hiring a senior team that is more qualified will be more costly, so you also have to consider what you can afford. That brings you back to the question of your aspirations and how you’re going to pursue them. Raising capital may be a precursor. Qualified and highly capable senior executives are not only expensive, they are also not as open to taking risks. They will need to see that you can afford them, and that they would be making a good career move by joining you.
Next comes the challenge of building a cohesive senior management team. This is where off-site meetings and personal relationship development come in.
In the meetings, the key is for the team to get totally aligned and committed to the company aspirations and its long/short-term goals. Accountability and commitment need to be clearly spelled out, both in terms of commitment to teamwork while at the same time maintaining individual accountability.
Is putting together a senior team something you’re currently working on or considering? You can find more advice on building a cohesive senior team here. Do you have any additional tips, thoughts, or questions to add? I’d love to hear your feedback below.
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