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Team Development: How To Recruit, Train, and Manage a Highly-Effective SaaS Team

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Let’s just put it right on the table: Building a cohesive team is hard.

Defining the right roles. Finding the right talent without overspending. Integrating new hires into the team in a way that’s effective for years to come.

Anyone telling you it's supposed to be easy is either trying to sell you something or has no idea what they're talking about.

But SaaS companies can’t afford to make mistakes. 

In a crowded field, many SaaS owners are facing aggressive competition and fast-moving markets. Every day, they need to deliver value to their customers and find fresh ways to stand out.

That’s where a strong team comes in. 

In this article, we’ll look at the science of team development and discuss why your SaaS needs a solid team. Then, we’ll cover some of the best practices of the process, and show you how to successfully integrate new team members.

But first, let’s start with the basics.

What Is Team Development?

Team development is the process of bringing together talented individuals and helping them to work effectively as a unit.

It’s not just another buzzword. Whether you're dealing with a small team or a department of hundreds, your company’s success hinges on how well people work together.

And it's not just us saying that.

Connected teams have demonstrated a 21% increase in profitability, according to Gallup. 

An even more surprising study revealed that engaged team members perform at a higher level

In other words, closely-knit teams play a crucial role in building a successful SaaS organization because they boost engagement and productivity.

Why does your SaaS need a solid team development process?

Again, building a solid team is tough.

The biggest challenge for roughly 8 out of 10 recruiters is attracting quality candidates. 

Besides, the increasing volume of remote workers is making it difficult for companies to grow. They need strategies for hiring remote employees and managing them effectively, both of which are tough challenges.

A recent survey states that the top three challenges of remote working include:

  • Remote onboarding: Managing new team members is a challenge when they're not in the same office. It can be time-consuming and lead to misunderstandings, so you need a good remote onboarding strategy. 
  • Hiring in a remote environment: With physical offices dwindling and more people working remotely, it's becoming harder to find quality candidates.
  • Uncertainty among candidates about job security: In a competitive job market, many people are discouraged from applying for new positions.

Without a solid team development process, these challenges can hurt your company’s productivity and growth.

And let's not forget about your biggest asset: Your people.

Your SaaS can’t afford to lose talent because of poor team development.

When people leave the company, they take their knowledge and expertise with them. That hurts your value proposition and puts you at risk of losing existing clients.

Turnover also hurts your bottom line, costing 30% to 150% of an employee’s annual salary, depending on the position.

Losing a single top performing employee can cost you thousands of dollars.

The right team development process helps you reduce turnover, manage new hires effectively, and maintain a highly-engaged workforce.

How Does Team Development Work?

Team development is all about answering three questions:

  • What does the team do?
  • Why does the team exist?
  • How do members relate to each other?

Let’s explore these questions a bit more in depth:

What does the team do?

This is about narrowing down the scope of the team and setting guidelines for where it’s headed. 

  • What is its mission? 
  • What values does it serve? 
  • Is it customer-facing or an internal team? 
  • What problems does it solve and for whom?

The answers to these questions determine how the team interacts with other teams and what its capabilities are.

Why Does the Team Exist?

This is about setting a purpose and establishing a collective identity. 

Is there a shared sense of responsibility toward team members, customers, other teams, or other stakeholders in your organization? What’s the ethos you want to establish? 

The point here is to create a team with a strong sense of identity from day one. Without it, you’ll face an uphill battle when authority and decision-making come up.

This is where personalities, interpersonal dynamics, and individual needs factor into the team structure. 

  • Is there a leader? 
  • How are decisions made? 
  • Who makes those decisions? 
  • How will people communicate, and how often? 
  • What about motivation and incentives? 
  • What are its key objectives? 
  • How will it measure its success? 
  • What are the obstacles you might face, and how will you tackle them? 

The role of a leader is key here. Without one, you’re looking at a group with no real sense of purpose — which means poor performance overall. At the same time, you have to watch out for problems that might arise from a strong leader figure who isn’t up to the task.

It’s important to know your team’s goals before you move on. You can use those goals as a foundation for your recruiting and training strategies.

How Do Members Relate to Each Other?

Now we’re getting into the dynamics of what makes a team click.

This is about individual members and their relationships to one another.

This includes how members behave, their roles and responsibilities, and their fit within the team. It also involves how they communicate, how they make decisions, and how they manage problems.

An example: Making sure your team members don’t hold conflicting responsibilities can save time and resources. Imagine two team members whose goals and priorities don’t align. If they can’t resolve their differences, it may cause friction and poor performance all around.

In this way, their fit goes beyond individual capabilities. It’s about how they work together as a unit.

How To Develop a Solid Team for Your SaaS

Now that we’ve covered the basics of team building, the question becomes: How can you actually build a solid team?

Let’s explore a few best practices:

Build an Employer Brand

How do you want people to see your team?

Your employer brand establishes what makes your business unique and highlights your values, vision, and story. It also demonstrates how your team contributes to your business’ overall objectives.

Organizations with a strong employer brand receive 50% more qualified applicants. Having a strong brand image can assist you in reducing hiring costs per applicant, too.

A solid brand communicates the company's benefits and appeals to a candidate's values. You’ll have a higher success rate in your recruitment efforts, as well as fulfilling team needs.

Take Netflix, for instance,  which takes a very open approach to hiring through its Netflix Culture Deck. You get an inside look at the company’s culture, which helps you understand what it’s like to work there. 

Netflix’s approach is also a good example of how an employer brand can appeal to candidates from different backgrounds.

Google is another great example of a well-defined employer brand. 

From the beginning,  the company has focused on creating a merit-based culture that’s open to new ideas. It even offers unconventional benefits, like catered meals, on-site childcare, and the option to bring your dog to work.

These practices have attracted  some of the brightest minds in tech. They’ve also helped make Google one of the most successful companies ever.

But how can you measure branding performance?

A recent survey reveals the top metrics C-level executives use to measure brand performance:

  • Retention rate: The percentage of employees who stay with your company over a period.
  • Cost of hiring new talent: How much you’re spending on hiring new people (paid job listings, recruiter salaries, etc.)
  • Number of applicants: The total number of people applying to your openings.
  • Quality of applicants: The total number of qualified candidates applying for each opening.

These metrics are important indicators that reflect the success of your company. They show how many people want to work for you, and what kind of talent you attract.

It’s important to know how your brand reflects on your business before you begin.  Where do you think it adds value? Where could it improve?

Going through these steps will help you find the answers to those questions and develop a strategy that is most effective for your team.

Improve Your Onboarding Process

Great onboarding is a step in the right direction.

The right onboarding process can improve your employee retention rate by 82% and team productivity by over 70%, according to Glassdoor.

You want to make sure that your team members have a strong foundation in their roles, and that they’re able to hit the ground running. This way, your new hires can make a bigger impact from day one.

If you’re struggling to onboard new employees, consider the following best practices:

  • Create a training plan: How will your team members get trained? What tools will they use to excel at their roles?
  • Use a mix of new-hire training and ongoing development: Teach your new hires the basics, while giving them resources to continue learning on their own.
  • Structure an onboarding experience that is customized to your business: Just because other companies do certain things, doesn’t mean they work for you. You need to determine what works best for your business.
  • Route employees to success: Don’t just set them up for failure. Give them a clear path to success from the start.
  • Find a balance between meeting your team members’ needs and keeping them engaged: They need support, but they need autonomy, too.

As you iterate on your approach to onboarding, keep in mind that people learn at different paces and in different ways.

This means that your approach should be flexible to meet the needs of all new hires, while keeping them engaged in their roles at all times.

As technology advances and tools become more advanced, the success of your team hinges on how you invest in their future.

Your employees need to be equipped with the right resources to keep up with the pace of your industry.

You need to find a way to encourage growth while encouraging autonomy.

Develop an Internal Talent Pool

Talent pools aren’t new, but they’re becoming even more critical as the war for talent impacts more industries.

Mercer states that roughly 8 out of 10 organizations are focusing their efforts on promoting employees from within. 

This helps retain top talent and encourages innovation.

The best companies know that their most powerful asset is their team members. They help them succeed by developing a talent pool that can contribute to the company.

You need to look deeper than the immediate needs of your business, and determine which team members might be able to take on new roles in the future.

This means developing a talent pipeline that can support your organization as it grows and changes.

At a certain point, you may need to develop different career tracks that allow your employees the opportunity to progress in their careers. 

For instance, if you’re a tech company, it may be important to offer certifications in different software programs.

Offering these courses through an internal talent pool is a win-win. It develops your employees and helps them continue their professional development, and it also builds better software for your customers.

You may even want to consider building a mentorship program that helps your team members develop their skills and grow into different roles.

By developing a talent pool, you’re offering more opportunities to your employees and giving them the room to grow.

Building a strong team is all about understanding your people and giving them the opportunities they need to succeed.

You want to go beyond offering a career path, and give your team members reasons to stay with your company even if they aren’t in their dream role.

This may mean granting them more autonomy, developing an internal talent pool, or finding ways to give them more opportunities for professional development.

Look for Talent Where It Lives

Many SaaS companies make the mistake of waiting for talent to fall into their lap.

This makes it difficult to build a team that has the skills and talent needed to support your business.

Instead, look for talent where it lives and where it’s abundant.

For instance, it's known that 89% of job seekers use their mobile when applying for a job. 

This means you should be investing in mobile-optimized career pages to ensure you catch the attention of your next great hire.

Among college graduates, most students use social media to find jobs and internships.

This means that evaluating your brand's social presence and building a strong employer brand is critical to attracting top talent.

You should be building your employer brand not only on social media, but also in the job market you’re operating in.

Technology is changing the way people seek out jobs and it’s important to stay on top of these trends if you want to attract new talent.

Improve Your Interview Process

There is nothing worse than an unqualified candidate walking through the door. This wastes the time of everybody involved and can leave a bad taste in the mouth of the candidate who didn’t get the job.

You can avoid this by creating an interview process that fully qualifies all your candidates.

A rule of thumb is to focus on  at least four areas during the interview process: 

  • Technical skills: This is the qualification your candidate will learn on the job. Make sure to provide a thorough technical test and ask questions that reflect challenges they may face in the role.
  • Industry knowledge:  You can’t always be certain that your candidate is familiar with the field you are in. That’s why it’s important to ask questions that gauge your candidate’s familiarity with the industry and basic concepts.
  • Soft skills:  These are the interpersonal skills you want to know will play well with your company. These questions should focus on how your candidate would handle certain situations, as well as interpersonal conflicts.
  • Personality: Asking questions about your candidate’s personality can help you gauge whether they would be a good fit for the team.

By using this approach, you can avoid wasting time with candidates who aren’t a good fit for your company and  your team.

Your Success Depends on Your People

Building a team is hard. 

It takes a lot of time, energy, and money. But it's also essential for SaaS companies to survive and thrive. 

Without a cohesive team in place, it becomes difficult to move the company forward, meet goals, and support customers.

By following the ideas outlined in this guide, you'll be able to make the most of your team development process.

Now, there's only one thing left to do: Take the first step and start building a strong team.

And, if you’re looking for even more ‌guidance on building a purpose-driven team that takes your business to the next level, take a look at Executive Navigation — our flagship program to grow your SaaS to $10 million (and more).

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