Startup advisor & founder of Morrama

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Building a team

 
 The  Morrama team in 2016: Mike, myself, Rob & Michael.

The  Morrama team in 2016: Mike, myself, Rob & Michael.

For those who don’t know, Morrama is part of the Ustwo Adventure playground. A floor within Ustwo’s offices at the Tea Building dedicated to the building of a community of creative teams and individuals that together will be more successful and produce more incredible things than they could ever do apart. Being part of the Ustwo Fampany (family-of-companies) is an absolute privilege and something I will write more about in due course. However, back to the topic of this blog post.

Last night the guys at Comuzi arranged a get together between the agencies based at the playground and founders from four different teams (Comuzi, Combo, No Mayo & Morrama) came together to share their stories. It was only whilst talking to these three teams, all of which are lead by two founding members, that I realised that my story is more unique and perhaps insightful to others that I’d thought before.

Whilst I didn’t found Morrama alone, it was an equal venture between myself and Rob, it has been almost two years now since he left. Meaning that I’ve been running Morrama solo for twice as long as we ran it together.

Much of the discussion last night was around team building. How do you hire people and for them to understand and share your vision. When there is two or more founders, you can go for a little while without having to hire anyone full time. You have an innate understanding between you of what you are working towards and you are equally invested, willing to put the hours in and trust that you’ve always got each others backs. When you are on your own however, you have no choice but to hire. You can’t have a team of one.

The team at Morrama are incredible and I count myself lucky every single day that I have such wonderful people to work alongside. I never feel like their boss, but they (hopefully) know that I’ll always have their backs and I deem it one of the most important aspects of my job to keep them happy. Learning how to hire and maintain a team was certainly not taught to me at school, but if it was, these are some of the lessons I would have liked to have know.

 

1. You will never be able to hire yourself.

Someone once asked me who I was looking for when I mentioned I was thinking of hiring. I laugh at how naive my response was. ‘Ideally someone with the same skill set as me I guess, so I can half my workload’. Lesson 1 - you will never be able to find a second you, because even if they have an identical skill-set, they aren’t the founder of the company and will never be as invested. Therefore you will inevitably be disappointed.

 

2. You might not need a plan, but they will.

It might be OK for you to float around hoping that the next opportunity will land in your lap without a formalised strategy or contingency plan. That’s because you are agile, flexible, willing to pivot at a moments notice. But employees need stability and direction. They need to know the end-game, the vision. And they need to see that you are actually making steps towards it. Otherwise what starts out as new and interesting quickly becomes meaningless and unfulfilling and no pay rise is going to fix a lack of inspiration.

Writing this plan down requires you to know what it is, which can be super hard. I’ve touched on this more in my post here.

 

3. When the right person comes along - hire them on the spot.

Good employees are hard to find. The best ones find you. Even if you had no intentions of hiring, if you have the capacity, find a chair and set them to work. If they really are as great as they seem, not only will they quickly forge a valuable position within the company but having an extra team player when you weren’t expecting or necessarily needed brings it’s own surprises. Instead of being spread thin, you can step back and begin to evaluate the company as a whole. The process, the brand, the identity, even the mission.

 

4. Create a brand document.

I’m not talking visual identity, I’m talking about who & what the company is. Firstly because putting it down on paper gives you an opportunity to evaluate and work out what this is for your own benefit. And secondly being able to communicate who your company is and what you stand for to potential employees is invaluable. At Morrama we have a ‘little book’, a document outlining how and why we started the company, what our principles are, our goals and our values. This was created by myself along with the original members of the team and it’s meant that those who have joined the company since have slotted straight in.

 

Hiring can be a daunting task, but it is an amazing opportunity to bring fresh energy, enthusiasm, experience and knowledge to the team. It’s up to you to lay the foundations of your business, but once done, you will give employees the freedom to build upon them themselves allowing them to feel a valuable part of something bigger.