The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you build a strong team?” is by Ratmir Timashev, co-founder and former CEO of Veeam.
The tale of the self-made man or woman has been lauded for decades, centuries even. But what’s often overlooked is that these people — the Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world – haven’t achieved their vision alone. They’ve enlisted others to help them do it.
The ability to identify and cultivate talent is one of the strongest skills a leader can have, and it begins with trust. Entrepreneurs are often visionary and strong willed. Their product is valuable to them, and they have strong ideas about how it should grow and transform. It is difficult to let anyone else in on that process, to slowly give up control. That is the first hurdle to overcome when building a team, developing the ability to trust people with your vision.
But hiring is not simply a matter of trust. Before you can build a team, you must first identify and understand your own core values. Companies have cultures, and these cultures are both driven by employees. As the company grows, the culture will be perpetuated through each additional series of new hires. At Veeam, we value people who are entrepreneurial — who don’t need to be told what to do but who come to work energized to work creatively toward achieving goals. We prioritize good judgment, diligence, passion, enthusiasm and creative problem solving as highly as we do MBAs or years of experience.
Once you understand the type of culture you want to create at your company, then it becomes much simpler to bring in the appropriate employees to fill in key roles. At the early stages of a company, it is critical to find people who not only are a fit culturally, but who are also highly motivated, inclusive, and able to agree on goals and tactics. In the critical launch stage of a new venture, there is no time to be herding cats. Everyone needs to be on the same page from the start; those who aren’t need to move on.
It’s important not to rush in hiring. Growth creates demand for more talent, but it is also fragile and can be snuffed out if too many employees – especially ones who aren’t the right fit — are added too quickly. While the maxim has taken some criticism in recent years, I still believe in hiring slowly and firing quickly. I have always communicated goals clearly and transparently to my team members, and those goals are often quite aggressive. That means there is no time to try and mold team members to fit the company culture – they either fit in, or they move on, it is that simple.
Finally, regardless of the position I am trying to fill, I always look for the ability to sell. Even in HR or finance, everyone I hire should have the ability to sell our product. I want every employee to understand what we are building and to be able to articulate why it is valuable. The best product in the world will not succeed if nobody knows about it, and while formal sales and marketing efforts are what matters most, every little bit helps. When everyone is selling, everyone feels invested in the company and its growth, and that creates a positive, enthusiastic atmosphere that drives success.