Assembling Your Startup’s Dream Management Team

Assembling your first management team is a critical step when starting a new company. Bringing on skilled managers will allow you as founder to focus on high-level strategy and scaling the business. Building an effective management team takes thoughtfulness, networking, interviewing, and striking the right compensation balance. Follow these tips when recruiting managers to propel your startup’s growth:

Define Roles Thoughtfully

Don’t default to generic roles like Sales Manager or Operations Director. Think carefully about what expertise you need most right now. Do you require a Marketing Head to build brand awareness or a VP of Engineering to lead product development? Define each role with your current business stage and goals in mind. Outline core responsibilities and must-have skill sets so you find candidates with the right background.

Cast a Wide Talent Net

Tapping your immediate contacts may seem efficient, but casting a wide net increases your chances of attracting best-in-class managers. Leverage online job boards, social media groups, and professional associations in your industry to promote openings. Ask investors, advisors, and freelancers you’ve worked with to recommend candidates. The broader the outreach, the more qualified applicants you can discover.

Interview Extensively

A standard interview may not reveal how a candidate will perform managing a team. Include exercises that test critical abilities like strategic thinking, problem-solving, and leadership. For a Sales Manager role, have them walk through acquiring a hypothetical new customer. Observe how they interact with lower-level employees during a group interview. Check references thoroughly to confirm achievements listed on resumes.

Move Quickly, But Not Too Quickly

When you find a great candidate, move fast to make an offer before they get snapped up elsewhere. But don’t rush to onboard managers who seem less than ideal because you feel pressure to fill the role. Vet carefully to avoid costly wrong-hires that could hurt your startup down the line. If needed, consider leveraging an interim manager until you find the right fit.

Sweeten Deals Thoughtfully

Salaries at startups are often lower than large corporations, so you may need to sweeten deals to attract top managers. Offer performance bonuses, early employee stock options, and flexible work arrangements. Play up exciting development opportunities and the chance to build something new. But keep sweeteners reasonable for the stage you’re at so costs don’t spiral.

Onboard Strategically

Have a structured onboarding process to quickly get new managers up to speed. Align them with mentors who can provide coaching and support. Set clear objectives for their first 30/60/90 days. Schedule regular check-ins to provide feedback and gather insights as they transition into their role. Onboarding effectively enables managers to deliver results faster.

Empower Your Team

Once your management team is in place, empower them to take ownership of their areas of responsibility. This increases engagement, creativity and problem-solving. Communicate context and priorities, but give managers latitude in how they achieve objectives. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and information sharing. Foster a results-focused, entrepreneurial team culture.

Play to Individual Strengths

Learn the unique strengths of each management team member and utilize them. The COO may be fantastic at operational streamlining while the Head of Marketing thrives on big creative campaigns. Let them play to these strengths rather than forcing all managers into the same mold. Complementary skill sets also allow managers to balance each other out.

Address Weaknesses

Periodically evaluate areas where managers may need development or additional support to strengthen the overall team. If your Sales Manager lacks experience with complex B2B sales, consider pairing them with an advisor who has that specialty. Offer access to training and coaching that helps enhance managers’ capabilities in key skill gaps.

Building a stellar management team sets up your startup for scale. Taking a thoughtful, rigorous approach to recruiting, onboarding and developing managers will create a leadership foundation capable of accelerating business growth and market leadership for your company.