3 steps to build a successful team

Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay -Dalai Lama XIV

6 February 2015

Post by Daniel Lombraña

Cover photo by Yasin Hassan

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How do you build a successful team? Moreover, how do you do it when you don’t have any idea about recruiting? This is my story about how I’ve built the amazing team behind Crowdcrafting and PyBossa.

Let others help you

One of the best parts of being a Shuttleworth Fellow is that you can build a team that will help you to achieve your goals.

While this sounds exciting, at the same time is terrifying. Why? Because usually, for the very first time you’ll be opening the door of your home to strangers.

While I confronted this feeling I decided the following: if I want to build the most amazing and successful team on earth, I’ve to trust them since the very beginning; otherwise I’m doomed.

With this very basic principle, I’ve created the following list of “rules” that I’ve followed to build an amazing team.

Give them Wings to fly

As Dalai Lama said, since the very beginning I knew one thing when I started recruiting people: I don’t want to ruin their life, I want them to grow and improve with me.

For this reason I encourage them to learn while they work. Learning should be one of the main motivations to work with the team. Why? Because if they become better in what they do, everyone wins. As simple as that, plus I know that if they quit, or our project fails, they’ll have lots of expertise and skills that will help them in the future.

How do I encourage them to fly? Well they’ve free will to decide about how they work. Any team member can decide if this week instead of coding, designing or writing a blog post, they prefer to test a fancy new methodology mentioned in Hacker News. That’s not lost time, it’s an investment in learning that will pay you back.

Give them Roots to come back

In every interview I told them that since day one they will have access to all the services that we have. Moreover, they’ll have since minute 0 deployment rights to do releases, even though they are starting to work with me (yes, they can break everything, but I’m fine with it).

Why am I doing this? Because I want to show to them that I really trust them. If they trust you, they can do incredible things!

One thing is saying it, and another one is proving it.

If they’re going to be part of your team, they should have access to everything that matters to them. And trust and confidence in your work is a good reason to come back.

Give them Reasons to stay

All my team manage their own time, they decide which days they want to work, how do they handle their holidays, etc. They even take days off just for disconnecting and have time with their loved ones. Oh, you don’t have to make up fancy stories to get any of those days, as I said: I trust them.

Another good reason to stay is that I encourage them to say what they really think. They must know that I respect their point of view, and that I’m not always right, far from that. I commit errors, but that’s fine. An error is a step forward for learning and improving. And showing that you commit errors, it will help them to not be afraid of failing.

Thus, I tell them that I don’t want an echo chamber. I need to know when I’m wrong so I can fix it. If they are afraid of discussing with me, we’re done. Not listening to your team is one of the worst things you can do. Again, trust them!

In the last two years I’ve been trying to create a place where I would love to work. This place is full of people like me that love what they do, that passion is what drives them, and they are always trying to improve. I’ve always imagined that perfect place to work, and now -thanks to the Shuttleworth Foundation- I’m making it real.

NOTE: This is a cross-post from my personal blog.

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