Team Productivity

How to Build a Stronger Team by Hiring Slow

Laura LaPrad
September 10, 2018
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Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise won the race, even though he moved at a slower pace.

At TeamGantt, we’re all about shipping things fast. But there’s one area we take the tortoise approach to heart, and that’s hiring.

Our decision to take hiring slow goes back to our humble beginnings as a bootstrapped company. When you start from nothing and cashflow everything, patience is part of the deal.

Time taught us the value of waiting when it comes to building a standout team. Here’s how to apply those lessons to your next hire.

Embrace slow growth

When they started TeamGantt, cofounders Nathan Gilmore and John Correlli didn’t have stores of investor cash at their disposal to hire a big team out of the gate. They had to work with what they had—and what they had in in the beginning was each other.

Nathan and John weren’t just writing code behind the curtain. They were serving customers on the front lines as well. That gave them a chance to learn every aspect of the business, inside and out. They juggled it all for about 3 years before feeling the crunch.

John Correlli, cofounder

“I was split between development and customer support in the beginning,” John says. “When it got to the point where I was struggling to keep up with development or a customer would have to wait a long time for a reply, we knew we needed to hire someone to help with support so I could spend more time writing code.”

By then, Nathan and John had established a firm financial foundation for TeamGantt so they knew they wouldn’t be biting off more than they could chew by adding someone else to the payroll.

So how do you know it’s time to expand your team? John’s advice is simple: “Keep going until you realize you’re going to be stretched too thin or you’re not getting the time and energy to dedicate to your primary goal or objective,” he says. “When you get to that point, it’s time to delegate—and when there’s no one to delegate to, it’s time to grow the team.”

Hold out for the right person

When you’re ready to grow your team, there’s nothing you want more than to fill that spot quickly so business can get back to usual. But people aren’t projects, and putting a deadline on the process can rush you into hiring the wrong person.

That’s why we recommend waiting for the right person to come along—no matter how long it takes.

“We don’t just settle for the first person who might kinda fit the role,” Nathan says. “We wait until we really all feel good that this person will be awesome.”

Here’s how to make patience pay off for you.

Start with people you know

When Nathan and John were ready to expand the team, the company culture had yet to be defined. So the first two team members they hired were people they knew who fit in with the chemistry Nathan and John already had going.

Now we always take a candidate’s chemistry with the team into account.

“Hiring people you want to work with who are fun to have around is a big part of getting a good culture,” Nathan says.

Even better, as your team grows, so does your network of potential hires. After all, if the people on your team are awesome, chances are their friends are too. Be sure to ask for personal recommendations before opening the gates up to strangers.

Customize your interview questions

Asking plug-and-play interview questions may save time on prep work. But are you really getting to the heart of what matters most to you?

Think about what you value as a team, then tailor your questions accordingly.

At TeamGantt, we’re a 100% remote company who packs as much as we can into 36 hours a week so we have more time to live life outside of work. And the interview questions we ask reflect that spirit. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • What motivates you?
  • Why do you want to work remotely?
  • Have you worked remotely before? How did it go?
  • How do you set up your day?
  • What’s your home office like?
  • What your biggest project or accomplishment?

Hint: That last question is about more than results. It’s a great chance to drill deeper and evaluate your candidate’s problem-solving and teamwork skills. Ask about challenges they had to overcome, and pay close attention to how they talk about other folks in the process.

Bring your team into the conversation

As a leader, you may think the hiring decision rest solely on you. But we encourage you to let your team have a say-so too. After all, they’ll be the ones working most closely with your new hire.

A team interview may add an extra step to your hiring process, but it brings 2 big benefits:

  1. You get to see how a potential hire interacts with the rest of your team before they’re on payroll.
  2. Your team gets to weigh in by asking their own questions and providing feedback before you make the final decision.

We typically save the team interview for last in our hiring process, but feel free to fit it in wherever it makes most sense for you.

Up next: From good hire to motivated team member

Hiring awesome people is just the first step to building a high-impact team. You also need to keep them motivated and engaged.

See why work-life balance is so important, and learn how to make it happen for your team.

Want to help your team work smarter?

TeamGantt makes it easy to eliminate confusion, streamline communication, and beat project deadlines. Even better, you’ll save time and energy on project setup so you can focus on doing the work that matters most.

Of course, don’t just take our word for it. Give TeamGantt a free try to see for yourself!

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