We all know that adolescence is awkward.
You’re growing quickly, your personality is constantly under construction, you’re too big to make silly mistakes, but young enough to recover quickly from scrapes and bruises.
For startups, there’s a similar period of in-betweenness that can be difficult to navigate. When you’re no longer a small group of founding employees but not yet a huge company, your organisation’s culture is incredibly important.
It’s what will motivate the right employees to take the leap with you into the next stage (whether it’s continued growth, acquisition, or IPO), and it’s what will help you determine most quickly who will and who won’t be on board.
Zephrin Lasker is CEO of Pontiflex, a New York-based email and social acquisition technology company. This post has been republished with permission.
There's nothing more costly (and worse for morale) than hiring the wrong person. It goes without saying that you should always bring in the right person for every job, but even the best hiring managers make mistakes.
In the early days of Pontiflex, we had a few people on the team who weren't a match. We were a brand new company and didn't have the heart, or maybe the guts, to cut them loose. We've learned our lesson. Today, non performers are informed quickly about their mismatch in terms of culture or experience. If they don't change, then it's time to call on the winds of change. In addition, prospective candidates go through multiple rounds of interviews, one of which occurs over lunch with the team to test the culture fit.
Finding good talent is extremely rare. Once you get the right people on board, don't belittle them by enforcing arbitrary rules like office hours.
We believe that if you have smart, motivated people and treat them well, they will do good work.
Forcing people to sit at their desks from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. undermines individual accountability. If you're under deadline and need to crank it out for 12 hours straight, we trust that you will. If you're having an off day and need to go for a bike ride, or if you need to spend a few hours with your family in the morning, please do.
The bottom line is that we're not watching the clock, and we hope our employees aren't either.
The bigger we grow, the more important this is. As our team gets larger (we've grown from five to 45 in what appears to be less than 10 seconds), visibility and transparency are critical to keeping employees motivated.
When we have big wins, everyone knows about it. When we have a rough day, it's out in the open. If someone has a question and they want to ask me directly, there's no wall between us, no outlook
The people that truly outgrow them do so by being open, transparent and honest with the world -- and with themselves.
If you hire adults, and treat them as such, you will find your company not merely surviving, but flourishing during its awkward phase.
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