Business leaders agree – building your team is often the most grueling part of founding a business. After all, what is a leader in the absence of a champion team to lead? The health and prosperity of your company depend on finding the right Team Members, whose skill and spirit align with your mission. The tricky part is perfecting the process by which you locate winning talent and secure their employment. From there, retention must become a focal point – not something to be left up to chance.
A winning team is an incalculable asset for your company, for a number of reasons. As a business owner, the best thing you can do is ferry your company to a state at which it can fly on autopilot – where business is successfully carried out, even in your absence. This frees up your time, liberating you so that you may work on your business, without always being needed within it. It is also critical that there is a good team dynamic in place, not only to minimize conflict, but to ensure that the company runs at peak performance. Ideally, you want a flawless client experience to be compulsory, on account of the prowess of your Team Members.
So, what goes into the construction of this optimal team? These truisms capture two essential components that business leaders would do well to remember:
- ‘Hire the best people, then get out of their way.’ This conveys the need to give your employees enough autonomy to do their job, without being hindered by micromanagement. If you take the right steps in the hiring process, you can easily vest trust in your employees and know that they will do well without you needing to oversee each step.
- “Build your business on your strengths, hire your team to cover your weaknesses.” – David Nilssen – As a business leader, you indisputably have vision. But seeing as you lack the rainbow of skills to take on every function within your company, you need to hire experts to ‘cover’ your weaker areas. Do not delude yourself into thinking you can take on other roles as a means of trimming the budget. Especially if you are the founder of a nascent company, one of the worst things you can do is bite off more than you can chew, by taking on roles that exceed your area of expertise. You want your focus to remain sharp – the top of the pyramid, after all, is narrow.
To better explore the optimization of the hiring and team building process, I spoke with Advantage|ForbesBooks’ in-house experts on the art of team-building, Ben Douglas, our Director of team Member Acquisition, and Chris Brown, our Vice President of team Member Success.
Always Be Hiring
Contrary to popular belief, hiring your team is a continual and ongoing process. There is no point of completion at which you should stop and say – well, I’ve hired everyone I needed. Ideally, you want your company to remain in a state of constant growth – the need for new positions should continually arise. Pinpoint where these roles are emerging, and begin headhunting well before the player is needed in-house. As Ben explains, “Every potential increase in revenue, service level, or productivity may need to be met with some aspect of human capital.” You have to “determine what is needed to support future growth. [For hiring purposes], we have an organizational chart for the current quarter, a 90 day chart, and a 180 day chart. This helps us ensure that we are aligned with the projected growth [in our Member base] and the financial feasibility of taking on new hires.” Chris adds.
Create Employee Scorecards
When determining the nature of the positions needed to be filled, Chris says, “we work with the department heads to analyze what skills are needed and establish key success metrics for a scorecard before we begin recruiting.” A scorecard is an indispensable tool that will allow you to effectively and methodically evaluate employee performance, at regular intervals. This way, you are never misled as to how they are performing, and they have a clear concept of what is expected of them.
Zero In On Company Culture and Retention
When it comes to finding the right talent to fill vacancies, Ben points out that many companies fall short on their efforts to retain A-players. This oversight on the part of other business leaders becomes your opportunity to recruit their top performers. The more effort you pour into the creation of a positive company culture, the easier it will be to attract great players to your team. Take a long, hard look at the company you are inviting others to join and ask yourself, what am I offering them, in exchange for their skill and expertise? You want to have a lot to draw on when you answer that question – especially if they ask. Determine what employee perks are financially feasible for your company; even the little things make a huge difference! (Coffee on tap? Work from home days? You’re the boss, get creative with it!) You can always add more programs and perks to enrich company culture and enhance retention as the business grows.
Don’t Stop Looking After the First Decent Candidate
On the topic of common mistakes made when hiring, Ben says, “some managers will compromise on talent because they don’t know how to calibrate the talent level they are looking for in the prospective role. For example, they have one opening and one candidate, and proceed to hire the candidate because they were pleasant to speak with and had qualifications that matched the job description. But what if there were 10 candidates in the pipeline to interview? What about more? The more people you have in the process, the more the manager gets to make an informed decision regarding who is ‘best’ to hire for the role instead of who is convenient. A lot of managers make decisions out of convenience because they are busy and focused on other results.” And remember, “if too much selling is involved [during the interview], then the applicant may not end up in a good place, which creates turnover.” The fit ought to feel natural, not forced – you shouldn’t need to talk them into it, nor should they be able to talk you into hiring them.
Transparency and Communication Are Everything
Elaborating on the importance of team dynamic, Chris tells us, “Communicate, communicate, communicate. It is extremely important that everyone know what is happening in the workplace, and understand how they can contribute to the overall goals of an organization. Being very transparent, and including [your employees] in goal-setting and decision-making are key things that help ensure that the team feels there are open lines of communication.”
Ben stresses the following point: “teams Members generally don’t struggle because of capability. They struggle because of communication barriers, lack of support from others, and lack of understanding about how each role collaborates to reach the goals at hand. It is also important to have each player vested in the outcomes of the team. This gives each player purpose and an understanding of how their contribution plays into the greater whole. For this reason, it is important that we pause as teams to organize, plan, collaborate.
Daily department huddles and weekly company huddles at which team Member share their daily priorities, good news, and workflow status will promote a transparent, positive, and well-connected company culture. Both Ben and Chris emphasize the importance that you foster a culture of personal accountability; you promote both transparency and accountability when you encourage Team Members to publicly share what they are responsible for, yourself included.
The values of communication, transparency, and delivering exceptional value begin with our Team Members, and extend to our Members: the business owners and thought leaders who are the lifeblood of Advantage|ForbesBooks. Our heavily vetted Team Members are committed to helping our Member grow their businesses by becoming the authority in their field. If you think you may be our next Member, apply now.