Twitter's Head of Revenue for the Middle East and North Africa, Benjamin Ampen, gives us the lowdown on attracting talents - in his own words, with his trademark hashtags.
What does it take to build the right winning team for your enterprise? Here are five techniques that we have been using at Twitter, both in the MENA region and around the world, to get the right people on board- and then get them to perform their best.
#PaceYourself when recruiting
At the offset of any operation, leaders are tempted to hire a large pool of talent in a short timeframe. This usually stems from the assumption that excessive hiring will create a false sense of success and will therefore satisfy the organization’s internal stakeholders. However, the ideal approach in this scenario would be to analyse the business requirements before making any shortsighted hiring decisions. In the long run, the most pertinent question is: would the business rather be impacted by delays in recruiting the right candidate, or by investing resources on training low performers (and potentially restarting the hiring process for a replacement)? This is particularly important at the beginning of a project when everyone needs to be autonomous in the work they deliver. The ideal approach would be to find a team member who embodies the company culture, grows with the business, and has an impact beyond the duties outlined in the role.
It’s important to work in a company that’s committed to making its teams more diverse. One of Twitter’s core values is to “seek diverse perspectives,” and we do so by hiring candidates with unique backgrounds and experience, yet by maintaining a consistent, high talent bar across the organisation. In our regional office in Dubai, we almost have as many nationalities as employees. But diversity goes beyond nationalities and gender. By hiring people with different backgrounds and experience, those individuals help shape the culture of the company with their unique perspectives. From a personal standpoint, diverse work environments contribute to your development as a leader, since you’re able to maximise the opportunities by seeking different outlooks and learning from your team. Hence, being open to implementing team ideas when making business decisions is both valuable to leaders, and those who contributed to them. Another way to incorporate diverse perspectives is during the recruitment process. Involve your team as much as possible in the hiring panel and work with your human resources department to put in place a referral programme that incentivises employees for recommending candidates.
To motivate a team, a leader must first gain their trust. Being approachable and treating everyone in the team as your peer encourages open dialogue and feedback. An important lesson that I learnt from one of my managers recently is not to insinuate power in your interaction with your direct reports; they know you’re leading the team, and you don’t need to play “the boss” card or imply that their views are irrelevant to the business. To me, empowering a team is vital. Give your team the freedom to get the work done, but keep checking in regularly to see how you can; not manage, but rather, support your team. Another approach that has worked well in my experience is to maximise the number of times I engage with my team. The idea is to plan different types of engagements with the team based on the messages I need to deliver or the input I need from them. For example, every week, it’s one of my absolute priorities to have one-to-one meetings with my direct reports and functional leads. In addition, every Thursday at the end of the day, we have a get together for the whole team to participate in “Tea-Time”. Globally, Tea-Time is a Twitter tradition at the San Francisco headquarters where employees discuss a range of topics from team updates, business news, to the latest personal news within the team. This friendly environment builds trust, making it easier for employees to understand how meaningful their work is and why they’re doing it.
Birds of a feather #FlockTogether
Tea-Time also gives all team members the opportunity to feel involved in the business, its success and impact. It’s important to provide your teams with a clear vision on where we have to drive the business to succeed. With the most junior person in your team particularly, it’s crucial for them to understand the bigger picture as often as possible and explain to everyone, whatever their position, that they have an important role to play. For example: someone may believe that the role of a Twitter client servicing team is “only” selling ads. But that would be pretty reductive to think so. What truly matters is that the revenue generated by one team helps in maintaining the operations of the consumer platform, and hence gives a voice to more than 320 million people worldwide. A great way to motivate a team is taking some time to celebrate successes and invest in special moments - but a team lunch at the end of the week is not enough. One of the best pieces of advice that I received is that doing good work is not enough, and that people need to know about it. Through additional effort you can create quality moments, and more importantly, build stronger ties between colleagues.
Inspire by #Respecting one another
When a competent team is hired and motivated, usually inspiring them is the easier task and this results from how you act as a leader. Here are three suggestions that have been yielding results for me, and some of the leaders who inspired me, over the past 12 years. Always start with listening. The best way to make your team grow is to know who they are, what they want, and how they feel. In order to do this, just have them talk. Particularly true at the beginning of a relationship. Secondly, accepting that your ultimate goal as a leader is not to be liked, but rather to help people grow and develop while doing what’s right for the business, is key. In some cases, this means having to break bad news, manage expectations, and make unpopular decisions that might affect some of your teammates negatively. It is tough, but necessary for the team to recognise the sensibility of your decisions in the long run. This will earn you their respect, and as a result, the ability to inspire them. Third of all, acknowledge that as a leader, you set the standard and your team perceives you as a role model. Your team is a reflection of who you are. If you’re critical and lack passion, they will behave similarly, but if you’re inspiring and elude positivity, the potential is limitless.
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