Team Building: 3 Steps to Create a Powerful Startup Team

Here’s an inside look at key parts of our team building process, which you can adapt to your own company culture.

Your team is critical. When you start a business, not only do you spend more time with them you do with your own family, but a very large part of your success will depend on the quality and mindset of these individuals. So, when hiring new employees remember that these candidates are not prospective employees . . . they are teammates.


A Fresh Approach to Team Building

For instance, at Trunomi we plan to create a whole new paradigm, where our customers have control of their own personally identifiable information (Pii) and they control the use of it over their mobile device. We’re getting rid of Big Brother and making it “Easy as Pii™.”

Given the extent of our intellectual property, our velocity as a company and our desire to have fun while doing what we do best, our team is everything. As such, we’ve reinvented our approach to team building. Our goal is to find and develop what we call “Trunomians” – team members who live, breathe and love Trunomi and our company values.

Here’s an inside look at key parts of our team building process, which you can adapt to your own company culture:


  • Leave Compensation Out of It (At First)

    In the highly competitive landscape of finding the best employees, amazing potential hires don’t make their decisions merely on compensation alone. These days, compensation is a well-defined commodity, so we leave money talks off the table as long as possible. This shows candidates what matters most to us is something much more important than money.

  • Do a “Share and Invite”

    Rather than asking interview questions, we use a process called “share and invite.” It starts with us sharing openly and fully, and then inviting prospective team members to comment on what we just shared. This unique approach achieves the dual goals of ensuring expectations are clearly set for both parties and helps us figure out if there is a mutual fit — with a foundation of transparency in communication. This saves an immense amount of time, money, frustration and opportunity cost, and leaves a great impression while helping you build a winning team. It’s also a more conversational approach, which sets job candidates; making the most of the short time you have together.

    I usually start by sharing a compelling high-level overview to communicate the scale of our company vision, and then pause to gauge reactions and comments. Then I move on . . . and often speak openly about our culture — sharing the most important aspects. After another pause for an interviewee to contribute their thoughts, I talk about our open standard: that everyone in our company is seen as an innovator. During the discussion I also share how the team functions, our collaborative analysis approach to brainstorming and my personal passions alongside why we value individuality.

    Through this process, if a candidate is a natural fit (or not) will become evident. In the best case it’s a true fit. If not, at a minimum they leave feeling that you shared and listened. They know you took the time, and as a result they will recall a great experience. Remember: It’s a small world and they might just refer a friend.

  • Conduct a Behavioral Assessment

    Finally, if things have gone well, we invite prospective team members to conduct a Predictive Index (PI), which gives amazing insight about their strengths, goals and habits. We then share the results with them afterwards. If we proceed forward with the candidate, we can also use this to place them better within our team. If we don’t, they then have a valuable takeaway – which leaves a lasting positive impression of our company.

    As a final note, one of the more compelling ways to ensure the success of your company, especially when it is in growth mode, is to ensure that you have a repeatable process in place for hires. This takes out the guesswork and makes sure that each addition has the same opportunity and expectations. Following this conversational, finding-a-good-fit model has worked well for us; you can develop your own specific processes to suit your goals.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Stuart Lacey is an entrepreneur with a successful history of founding, building profitable companies and exiting cleanly. With 20 years of leadership experience in the financial and technology markets, he has a keen eye for growing highly successful teams and developing innovative platforms and leading technology solutions. His latest venture, www.trunomi.com, is his biggest and is about to fundamentally change the face of human and business interaction. Connect with @trunomi on Twitter.


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