Building a Team During COVID-19

a team of women on a video conference

Building a development team from scratch during the height of the COVID-19 crisis was definitely an interesting experience. It forced me to take a different approach to hiring and teambuilding, one where all I had to go on was experience and intuition. Still, you can tell a lot about a person through virtual conversations over coffee—and today, it’s hard to imagine Celero without my team.

For me, those hiring conversations were not only about finding people who had the professional experience I needed, but also getting a feel for who the candidates were as people. What were they looking for? What would fulfill and encourage them professionally? How would they deal with the challenges that we would inevitably face during such a tough time? If you look at my team today, half of them were brought on purely through these virtual interviews.

Empowering Honest Conversations

What made this hiring process so productive, despite the constraints we were up against, was transparency and vulnerability. I made it a point to be upfront since I myself was coming from a vulnerable place, having just left a job that I loved for ten years in the middle of a global pandemic to start at Celero. I explained my reasons for making the switch—how working at Celero was an opportunity for all of us to grow, innovate, push ourselves, and create something new together. Empowering a deeply honest conversation allowed me to get a feel for what the candidates were looking for themselves, and how equipped they would be to weather challenging times.

Eventually, I found my dream team, and they’ve managed to exceed my wildest expectations of a mid-pandemic, virtually-assembled team. They’re all so different, but they fit together perfectly like different pieces of a puzzle. Some are energetic and outgoing; others are introverted and analytical; and still others are mathematical and data-driven. All contribute to a larger mosaic that we’re building, and all came to Celero through candid, transparent conversations.

Welcoming Different Perspectives

I recently read something about diversity that resonated with me (even if it is an oversimplification): If you’re always eating hamburgers and fries, you’re missing out on a whole part of the world’s cuisine. But the more diverse your menu is, the more wonderful things you get to experience—and on top of that, you create fusions of different cultures. This struck me because of the diversity among my team members, where each person brings a fresh, new perspective to our work. Having a variety of perspectives is important because it informs the larger aspect of what we’re building, how we’re growing, and what we need to do in the future.

So, what are my best tips for building a professional team in the midst of a worldwide crisis? Be open, honest, and transparent. Encourage candid conversations. Seek a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. Most of all, look for people who can grow with your company through times of hardship, because it’s through hardship that some of the most innovative ideas are created.