Insights to help you build an extraordinary team.
As a recruiter, I am in a unique position to tell startup leaders why their people are leaving. I see startups from two vantage points: There are the ones I recruit for, and all the others that are fair game for me to recruit from. I learn a lot about both types of companies. A person I am trying to recruit is a wealth of information about his or her employer – which has sometimes convinced me to switch gears to go after the company as a client rather than as a recruiting source.
You may wonder why I’m writing this post to help startup leaders make my job more difficult. It’s because I love startups and want them to succeed. I’ve been recruiting for two decades for a wide variety of situations and recruiting for startups is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I love it with a passion. I don’t want your people to be poachable. But this won’t stop me from trying.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, but what prompted me to finally write it is a post by Mark Suster on leadership. I can diagnose the problem, but I won’t necessarily know the cure. Mark’s post is part of the cure. If leaders take Mark’s advice, they will make it very difficult for me to lure their team members away from them.
For the record, I want to say that there are fewer people that I have more empathy for than a startup founder. I am even guilty of a bit of hero worship and have made business decisions that are more in their best interests than mine. I recognize the inordinate pressure faced on a daily basis and, as a result, the type of resilient, self-reliant people they need on their teams; people who don’t need to be coddled, who can roll with the punches. But people are people, even people who love working at startups. They need reassurance, to feel valued, to know that what they are doing matters. This might even be part of the makeup of the type of people attracted to startups; they want to do something that really matters. They also need to know that you as a Founder/CEO keep your promises and that you tell the truth.
You need to make the decision of whether you can afford to spend the time, effort and/or money to replace anyone on your team. Weigh that against what it would cost you to do a check-in with them – or any other effort that it would take to remind them that they are an important member of the team and of value to you.
Here are some of the reasons prospective candidates either call me or will take my call – other than my sales and marketing ability and how great my client companies are:
This is not an exhaustive list, although reading it may have been exhausting. There are some things that you cannot control. What you can control is your communication. Poor communication from a leader is perhaps the biggest contributor to helping me succeed in recruiting away their people. Unfairness and dishonesty are high up on the list as well.
Some reasons were omitted from this list because it’s just whining. I don’t want to poach your whiners for my client companies. Those you can keep.
I honestly hope you will make my job harder. And remember to read Mark Suster’s post.
P.S. If you are losing people and want an honest and educated opinion about the problem, reach out to me. I’m here to help.