Sunday 4 December 2022

Learnings in building a 150+ member team

I turned 27 a few days ago. I'm not too old, and yet I have built a Team of 150+ talented members at Cogno AI who are young and are driving millions in revenue. Here are my learnings:

1. During the early days, hire generalists who can get anything and everything done. As Mark Zuckerberg says - hire people who are generally smart.

2. Hire smart people and let them run the show. Don't interfere in their day-to-day work. Give them the outcomes that you want to achieve and let them decide how to deliver that.

3. Don't micro-manage. While it's important to check in regularly on the goals, it's a bad idea to micro-manage smart people. You've hired smart people exactly so that you don't have to waste your time in micro-management. Also, smart people don't like to get micro-managed.

4. Instead, agree on the larger goals and decide weekly or fortnightly milestones and do a sync-up call accordingly to check for progress.

5. Keep sharing your company's larger goal with your team members on a regular basis. The better they know about the larger goals, the more would they be able to drive outcomes to achieve it.

6. Spend time in deeply understanding your team members on who's good at what. For instance, if someone has a creative talent, they're generally better suited for Product and Design roles. If someone is good at storytelling, they're meant for Sales. There are, of course, exceptions to everything.

7. Trust your team members as much as possible. But when someone breaks your trust, part ways politely because it's near impossible to work with someone who has broken the trust. Give them a severance package. Help them get hired in your network. But don't continue working with them because it's going to be a lose-lose situation for both.

8. Have a fewer number of job profiles. More job profiles are tougher to manage because for each job profile, you have to decide the job description, salary band, goals/objectives, appraisal criteria, promotion criteria, etc. It just becomes complex. Don't create random job descriptions.

9. Create a culture that accepts failure. As a corollary, create a culture that promotes genuine experimentation because that's how innovation happens. Experiments can fail and that's why, you need a culture that accepts failures. Don't penalize for genuine mistakes where someone tried to take a moonshot goal and failed.

10. Help your team members succeed not just in their job, but in their life and career in general. If you take care of your team members well, they'll take care of your customers and Business.

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