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  • Writer's pictureAhmed Atalla

3 Steps to Building a Loyal Believing Team

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

4 mins read.

Today we talk about the team. More about what worked for us and how to build a loyal believing team. We’ve built a product that serves 100K monthly customers making 10 million monthly visits with only 12 people each having been in the company for at least 1+ years with the majority on the 2+ years mark.

But why are they staying...Here’s why.

1. The Co-founding Team There are two ingredients for the recipe of a successful co-founding team. Firstly, they share the same values and team management approaches. Not the typical 3-4 letter acronyms you see on the walls of big corporations (for example SMAK, serious management accountability bla bla bla). But, are they all team oriented? Are we all straightforward and to the point? Are we all honest and clear? Are we all compassionate and put human feelings first?. Usually issues arise when one co-founder puts people first and another puts deliverables first. If you put your team first they will always deliver, fact. Secondly, do they have different backgrounds and perform very different tasks, problems usually arise from grey areas. Who’s handling this or accountable for this. In our case, it’s so clear cut we never had this discussion. One of us is handling commercials, one handles product and business operations and another handles pure tech..clear and simple.

2. Who do you hire?

This is probably the most difficult one of them. It’s a mix of certain skills and traits. I would categorize hires to the following based on skill:

Entry (0-1 year): Hire them to support more senior team members who you need to free up some of their time and develop their managerial skills. A mistake we made at the beginning was that we thought hiring 4 entry level or junior team members would fulfill the role of a senior...they didn’t.

Junior (1-2 years): Hire them if you know that they’ll be working on something that does not require the “I’ve done it before” factor. They are also usually a little more volatile when it comes to staying or leaving since they’re at the point where they need to decide their longer path.

Senior (3-5 years): Hire them if you’re at a developed stage at a specific task, like having your product post PMF. The key here is to hire someone who “has done it before”. You’ll check in with them but they’ll take full responsibility and initiative to do things.

Management and above (5+ years): You’ll talk with them numbers only. The language here transitions from check-ins and planning meetings to more of number reviews.

For the Traits, Hire:

Again honest and straightforward. You want someone who would tell you once they figure out they’ve messed up something. The only time we would immediately let go of a team member is when they lie to our faces, anything else is fixable and tolerable.

Believers and those who want more. People who want to work on something they believe in and want to always be a better version of themselves. If they’re the best at what they do but don’t have passion for your product or passion to grow, they’ll dry out very early.

People without issues. Yes it’s like a relationship, you want to have a team that’s not spending their time over disputes or trying to prove themselves right. Simply, they want the greater good.

3. How to really lead

Again apart from the typical “be a leader not a boss” kind of tips and tricks, the first and foremost, be human:

Yes, family comes first, sorry not your business but their family and this is what you should relay to them.

Weekends are theirs not yours. There’s not one time we took a team member’s weekend work for granted. If it’s urgent we make sure they know and understand that it’s not our right to ask them to work.

Blame is a waste of time and energy. We’ve never pointed a finger on something that went wrong. At the beginning we make it clear that we will not tolerate even team members blaming each other because it will waste all our time. We simply ask two questions, how to fix it, and how it happened so it doesn’t happen again.

Financials are important but they’re not what retains an employee. I’d say financials come last (that is assuming you’re already giving them a salary within the market range not underpaid). Instead ask yourself, are they working on something they enjoy? Are they developing? Are they being appreciated enough? Are they comfortable? Are they respected enough? Have they been working on the same thing for too long now? Are they being listened to enough?

Authority and respect are earned, not forced. Forcing a team member on a specific routine just to set authority is a terrible idea, they’ll soon resent you for it if it doesn’t make sense. When we’re hiring and people ask about (working hours or office timings), our answer is always “these are the typical timings” but if you’re delivering outside of them then you're free to do whatever.

Give them space. Always guide them first to do it once, once they’ve done it your way, pitch in with 30% input only and leave the rest to them as long as the numbers are achieved.

Finally if they leave you for an opportunity to grow, support them and motivate them regardless of how this could affect your business, because if there’s anything we’ve learnt..the good ones always come back!

If I’d summarize all of the above in two words, I’d say just be human. We’re all trying our best, we’re all going through our very own struggles, and we’re all here in this world to support our families, feel good about ourselves and enjoy life so let’s just make it easier on all of us.

If you have any questions, dm us and we'll get back to you.


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