Friday Sep 30, 2011 by Cort Johnson - Director, Terrible Labs
It’s been fun to watch the growth of Boston’s early stage tech community over the past few years. Companies that once had trouble finding the resources to help them succeed are now finding the support they need to be successful. Because so many companies are being nurtured, it’s been interesting to watch a new problem become more prevalent: the retention of good talent.
All of us here at Terrible Labs have had the opportunity to work at several early stage companies in various product, engineering and sales roles. We’ve seen how hard it is to come by great talent in years past and now that the market for A-players becomes more and more competitive, companies should be focusing on creating great environments for their talent to work in.
As we too continue to build our company and team, here are a few things we’re constantly thinking about…
We’ve seen first hand what it’s like to build a company culture and we know it’s not easy.
Yes, the building and execution of your product is super important and no doubt you will deliver. What tends to be equally as important is the the road the team travels while building the product.
Your goal is to build a team that enjoys not only working together but spending long hours together. In order to achieve this, it’s all about getting out of the office and away from work. Allow your team to step out of their work shell and be themselves. Whether that means going out for drinks, taking a trip together, going out for dinner or singing karaoke, allow your team to share in unique experiences and in turn you’ll have a team that’s closer and better friends.
The journey will be long, make sure it’s enjoyable for everyone along the way.
The people you’ve hired to work on your team are the ones who are willing to get their hands dirty and solve big problems. People join companies not for the paycheck but because they’re passionate about a space, problem or team.
Make sure the problem you’re solving is well stated and interesting. Your team should light up when they talk about what they’re working on and who they’re working with.
If that’s not the case, empower your team to explore subsets of the problem you’re trying to solve. This doesn’t have to be their fulltime job but an opportunity for them to be creative and come up with solutions you may have never thought possible.
The team you’ve assembled should be stacked with people you believe in and trust to execute your company’s grand vision. No doubt issues and detours will arise, it’s expected at any company. The important part to remember is to treat your team with the trust you’d expect them to confide in you.
When unfortunate speedbumps present themselves, be open with your team and work on solving the problem together. A lack of communication merely delays the inevitable, difficult conversation and ultimately leads to a more negative response from your team.
Like all successful relationships (because I would know), successful teams are built on transparency and communication.
The Future Looks Competitive
I’m excited to watch as more companies startup here in Boston. The ecosystem is getting stronger each day and the companies more compelling. Just make sure you are conscious of the environment you’re creating otherwise you may find yourself a lonely, one man team.