Building High Performance Teams for Rapid Growth Startups


The human capital aspect of an early-stage, high growth startup on the path to commercial viability is critical to success but often overlooked. Worse yet, frequently it will be treated the same as hiring for an established organization, relying on founders’ limited experience in that area. Building a high-performance team from the ground up is about far more than just making a few good hires with the right technical skills and pedigree, it is about thoughtfully and intentionally constructing an organizational chart that is not only technically aligned with the business need but behaviorally, cognitively, and culturally as well. Scale-up and commercialization plans are carefully designed and mapped, and the building of the team should be treated no differently.



The principals of PeopleWise bring 43 years of experience building teams for high tech startups, some notable examples being Plug Power and MapInfo. One of our principals, Amy Johnson, also has seven years of experience coaching and mentoring healthcare technology startups in her role as Director of the Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center incubator at Albany Medical Center. Truly partnering with the businesses we build, our team also holds equity positions in several startups we’ve helped to flourish.


We also bring 20 years of experience implementing the Talent Optimization methodology in startup organizations, the data-driven framework that provides a roadmap for aligning talent strategy with business strategy. In a startup, there can be a great deal of ambiguity surrounding how best to achieve business goals, so there is a strong need for employees that will be comfortable with change and an appropriate level of risk. We objectively and effectively measure that with our process. 


First, we review whether the structure you have planned for your organization supports your business strategy. From there, we evaluate your leadership team’s competencies and dynamics, identify gaps, and create a plan to close them. Next, we establish and define a culture (at both the organizational and departmental levels) through the lens of your strategy.


Gathering input from all stakeholders involved in each hire as part of our 360 Degree Review, we synthesize technical, behavioral, and cognitive expectations to create a clear “whole-person” vision of the role. From there, we talent map the appropriate candidate pool and strategize appropriate messaging. We equip your leaders with the right data and questions to conduct meaningful interviews, our behavioral analytics provide insights into a potential hire’s impact on team dynamic, and our unique Case Study exercise gives you a realistic preview of how the candidate would approach your business challenges.


Great organizations have clear career paths for all employees. We help you to establish and communicate compelling paths and revisit them as your business strategy evolves. Your leaders are developed, and by extension their teams, with the training and frameworks we provide. Culture is reinforced, desired behaviors are ingrained, and outcomes are achieved.


An ongoing cycle that wraps around Design, Hire and Inspire, this happens at all stages of Talent Optimization as we work with your organization to use its people data to measure what matters, analyze the date, and prescribe improvement actions. These three steps are an ongoing loop, the insights of which will lead to changes in how you Design, Hire and Inspire your organization in alignment with its evolving needs.