The Rules of Attraction:
People, Culture & Scaling
Our great panel included Richard Shepherd, Global Head of Product at JUST EAT, Michelle Coventry, Talent & People Advisor at Kindred Capital VC, and Jack Tang, Co-founder & CEO at Urban, who between them have hired hundreds, even thousands, of startup employees.
“One of the biggest challenges for Startups has always been hiring.”
Amy quizzed them on their best tips on hiring and sustaining teams, whilst managing the ever-changing demands of a scaling company.
We’ve put together a selection of the panel’s best advice from the night to help you!
- In order to appeal to great talent, make sure you have an interesting product, mission, and that you’re ambitious. Be bold. Tell people about it.
As Michelle said: “I think the product is really important, and I would say the ambition is second. We don’t see enough ambitious companies in Europe, so if you are ambitious, then be bold and tell people about it. We’re really bad in this country at being humble, but you can still be ambitious and humble. You should try that.”
“I think the product is really important, and I would say the ambition is second. We don’t see enough ambitious companies in Europe, so if you are ambitious, then be bold and tell people about it. We’re really bad in this country at being humble, but you can still be ambitious and humble. You should try that.”
- Share your vulnerability and true motivations with the people you interview. Make sure they are sharing their true motivations right back – if it’s just about salary, pass.
- Give people ownership and trust them. The biggest advocates for working at your company will always be your employees.
- Candidates should have plenty of time to ask their questions — interviewing goes both ways and is a sales process, you need to also convince them to join.
“Share your vulnerability and true motivations with the people you interview”
Speaking on the interview process Jack added: “Whenever we bring in a candidate near-final stage, we always get them to meet the people they’ll be working closely with — and we get the managers out of the room, so they can ask genuine questions like, ‘What’s it like to work here?’. That really drives conviction.”
- Trust your gut! Many of our panel shared their own experiences of not having listened to their gut and then regretting it later. So make sure you tune in.
- Challenge your biases! If you immediately like someone, try to argue your wait out of liking them – go against your typical opinion and get more of the team involved. Don’t share your thoughts about a person with your team, let them meet them, and then give feedback.
Richard had this to say: “So, I can’t think of many examples where after the first round interview where you don’t have a pretty strong sense. And then the challenge is to deliberately try and challenge your bias at that point. So normally I feel very strongly, positively or negatively, I have to then allow other people within my team to interview somebody with me not there, and not sharing my biases with them, and then have some way of collecting that feedback anonymously.”
- Try “topgrading. This is a detailed strategy that puts candidates through various rounds of interviews, showcasing a candidate’s professional background, work ethic, and personal qualities. It is a more time-consuming process, but one which often leads to hiring better and people staying longer.
- Here are some product leaders favourite interview questions.
- Ask for help. If you’re a startup with funding, that means you have investors and you should be turning to them to support you in scaling the team. They have incredible networks, make sure you can tap into it.
- Fire – quickly!
As Michelle said: I think hiring slow, at pace if you can do that, but firing faster than you’re hiring is important. But it doesn’t have to be about experience to let someone go because it’s often a relief. It really is a relief and a release, and that goes back to being honest.
- To sustain your team stay transparent! You could host “town halls” to share company information with all your staff, keeping everyone up-to-date and giving them space to ask questions. Be honest with your team – don’t pretend everything is rosy if it isn’t.
- Start company ritual. Urban started a Friday quiz based on the company!
Jack explained: “It’s like…this particular beautician or therapist, how many bookings did they do in a particular time frame?… People just started really looking forward to it, and there was a nice buzz, and it’s become something of a ritual in the company. So I think it’s these small, humble things go really, really far.
- Remember company on-boarding and off-boarding don’t just happen at the start and end of employment, they are part of the whole journey as an employee. Invest in that journey! These people will be your advocates.
- Keep giving people opportunities to learn and treat everyone as you would expect to be treated.
Lastly, when it comes to finding quality candidates to interview, Richard Shepherd said:
“I just partner with Few and Far, and the best candidates come straight through the front door.” – Thanks mate! 😂👏