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How to Build a Diverse, Robust and Fulfilled Team

What are we looking for when hiring?

Competency is fairly easy to assess. But do they fit company values?

  • Have them speak to the team they will be working with when assessing culture fit
  • Have multiple people when interviewing; e.g. 4 interview with 4 different interviewers
  • Are they positive, do they radiate energy and can-do attitude? Is there enough curiosity and willingness/ability to problem-solve? When do their eyes light up?
  • Would you be able to spend a long haul flight sitting next to this person? :) Would you go for a beer / walk in the park with them?
  • Ask what they're passionate about. It's great when someone tells you about something they like but you don't; yet they still manage to inspire you
  • Would they bring something unique to the team?

However...cultural fit can massively oppose diversity.

  • Very easy to hire too similar people. How much impact is a group of people will have when they are exactly the same?
  • Is gelling with the rest of the team the best thing? Is it a clique that's not thinking outside the box?
  • Problem: people leave after they feel like they "don't belong". If you're aware of it, you can grow out of it.
  • As company grows, there will be more specialised roles so you'll beed to start looking outside your circle.
  • Be mindful of writing job title and description in a way so that only certain gender candidates would apply.
    • If the jobspec is too technical - only male candidates will apply
    • Play around with excellence criteria - do you really only need Harvard, MIT, Oxbridge candidates? MBAs? Candidates with consulting background?

Is diversity one of your company values?

  • As company grows, culture changes. Leadership and people at the top need to embody the value of diversity.

Competency assessment and other practical tips:

  • Always do a timed task before inviting them for face to face interview; do another task when they're in the office.
  • Even in a non-technical role at a tech startups, look for basic tech skills (will they understand what you're building and get along with the product team?)
  • Did they ask many questions?
  • Tailor hiring process for each role
  • Don't hire people who've already done their best work
  • Remove the hiring decision from hiring manager because if they're under pressure, there's a chance they will bring anyone in. In these situations, a quick fix can be a contractor. You can always go for a full-time position later.

Onboarding

  • First 2 weeks super important. Appreciate how much of attention span they can have in a day during those first weeks and don't kill them on the first few days :)
  • Couple them up with someone else in the company so they're looked after / have someone to go to. Make connections and ensure people go for coffees together and bond.
  • Organise lunch with one of the founders, make sure they meet everyone in the leadership team too.
  • If you have several new starters at a time - organise a lunch with the CEO so that they can ask questions.
  • After a month at a company, ask them for feedback on the onboarding process so you can improve.

Running feedback

  • 15Five tool for feedback process: employees spend 5 mins at the end of each week to give feedback; compulsory.
  • Officevibe - another tool
  • Encourage that people in the team are as honest as possible with their line manager; but also - is there another person in the team/company that the person can go to confidentially?
  • During feedback sessions, instead of asking "is everything ok" ask more specific questions e.g. "do you think our team is diverse?"
  • Walking meetings are really good...walk away further from the office

"Forced fun" :)

  • Avoid "old folks" vs "new folks" schism
  • Monthly celebrations: find a reason to celebrate stuff (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)
  • Tie in company celebrations with company milestones
  • Make an environment where people can be happy, not where they have to be happy
  • Ownership is really difficult. It's not anyone's job to make people happy
  • Doesn't have to be expensive...party poppers vs expensive pale ale?

Managing flexible working

  • Can flexible working for ops be productive?
  • It needs to be communicated across the company. Stuff needs to still get done
  • Show and tells are important - to show that everyone's delivered the projects even if they turn up to work "late"
  • Unfortunately there's still big culture of "showing that you're in the office" even if you don't get your work done
  • More transparency in people's productivity could help solve it
  • Accountability of their output; push the decision down to the "lower ranks"
  • Underlying theme is that you're working effectively
  • Bear in mind diversity. E.g. flexibility for parents
  • WFH shouldn't become an issue; create a culture of appreciation. "Don't understand how you folks do this; I'd love to learn from you". Share WFH practices across company cross-team to stop the assumptions.
  • When people start making assumptions in organisations, it cripples them!