How Any Startup Can Build a Great Team

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startup buttonRecruiting for a startup can be a challenge, no matter what position you are looking to fill. Startups, like many other organizations, are looking at many factors when it comes to a desirable candidate, such as keeping up with ever-changing work environments, transferable skills, and a work history that proves they are the right fit. Add the sometimes necessary task of recruiting members from a variety of age categories, as well as broad range of personality types, and hiring managers may have an even bigger challenge on their hands.

Clearly, Gen Y (also known as Millennials) is one of the faster emerging members of the current working community. In fact, by 2025, this generation is expected to make up 75 percent of the entire workforce. But what about the other players, like Gen X with their self-reliant personalities and the Baby Boomers with their dedication to organizations? How can startups create a good mix, and more importantly, a great team? The key is to start thinking about this early in the recruiting process. Here are some things to keep in mind to build a great team:

Know How Different Employees Work
The beauty of startups is that they offer flexibility in multiple ways, from work environments to who does what. You can appeal to multiple generations by simply understanding how they work. For example, more than one-third (37 percent) of Gen Y workers would take a pay cut if it meant more flexibility on the job. Flexibility can mean a myriad of things, from a virtual workforce to a shorter day, which many startups are accustomed to. Plus, if members of Gen Y are willing to take less money in return for a richer mental state, it can save startups some valuable cash.

Additionally, startups need to understand the specific needs of the various categories of employees in their workforce. For instance, 80 percent of Gen Y workers want regular feedback and recognition, while 50 percent of workers want feedback at least once a week. Members of Gen X are used to following strict rules and may not like the same casual work nature of other generations. Boomers like face-to-face meetings as opposed to communicating through a medium. When you understand how these employees work, you can better cater to their needs.

Know How to Reach Out (and Follow-Up)
As a startup recruiter looking at candidates representing multiple generations and age categories, you’d probably appreciate applicants who can identify exactly what they are about, as well as give you feedback on their work history. Guess what? It works both ways. For example, members of Gen Y are generally known for their greater than average need for a clearly defined career path and a stronger than usual emphasis on proper feedback and guidance. So, when recruiting individuals from this category, make sure to be sensitive to their needs and answer all questions with their particular likes and dislikes in mind. Understanding your applicants and being truthful and transparent throughout the process helps in building trust and credibility with the individuals you are seeking to attract. You will be surprised that sometimes the small stuff can make a big difference.

Additionally, don’t forget to include social networking in your recruitment strategy. Seventy-five percent of Gen Y have created an online profile (the majority of Facebook and Twitter users are also in this age group). Thus, Twitter can be a great place to find professionals between the ages of 26-34, reaching both members of Gen Y and Gen X. Additionally, according to a social media usage survey, Internet users over the age of 55 are driving the growth of social networking through mobile Internet. Regardless of age though, one in six job seekers are looking online, so this should still be your primary target. You will likely find the most updated information on social media profiles and can suss out if they will be able to hack it, personally and professionally.

Know How to Get Them Settled
So you have hired members of different generations. How do you get them to work well together? First, figure out who can work well with whom. You can assess this in multiple ways, from personality to work experience. Next, understand the importance of shadowing and mentorship, which can help any worker become accustomed to the startup lifestyle. Even if it is a reverse-mentorship, like a Millennial helping out a Boomer, it can be beneficial in the learning process, as well as team building.

Keep in mind that every generation is different. Trying to force them to be a certain way will only deter the growth of your startup. Instead, take the best of every generation–the emphasis of teamwork from the Boomers, the high-productivity of Gen X, or the social savvy nature of Gen Y–and make it work for your organization by playing up these characteristics. After all, most people, regardless of age, want to be part of something that’s going somewhere. Take the strengths of every employee and make it work for you.

Lastly, understand that skilled people are in every generation and they can adapt to newer paradigms very quickly if they have the willingness, ability and support. Instead of using a stereotypical approach to categorizing individuals and missing out on great talent, measure people’s potential contribution to the organization not by their age, but by their attitude and what they can do for your organization now and in the future.

What do you think? What are some other steps for startups to take when recruiting different generations?

By Sajjad Masud