5 Steps to Building Your Dream Teamadmin
5 Steps to Building Your Dream Team
You hired each one of your employees because of their diverse strengths, striving to build the perfect team for your business. To this day, you can name the skills that solidified your decision to hire every employee.
Unfortunately, despite their wonderful and diverse skills, your overall impression of your team is falling short of your expectations. How can this amalgamation of incredible skill be performing so poorly?
I have a client who has assembled a group of what I fondly call “miss-fit toys” – or, rather, dysfunctional employees. He often spends several minutes at a time ranting about his employees’ latest misadventures, and his frustration is always justified.
One rant centered around a field technician who was doing well, until he showed up on-site without a key component needed for that day’s work. Of course, everyone makes honest mistakes, now and then. But, in this case, his boss had helped him make a list of tools and materials required for the week just two days prior, to avoid any flukes or misunderstandings. I had to ask: Was it a written list? Could the employee read?
As it turned out, the employee had neglected to use the list they had painstakingly prepared when he’d loaded his truck, and instead he’d waited until he was on his way to the job site to consult it. He ended up skipping the part of the job that required the forgotten material and returning another day to finish it.
Now, it might seem obvious that an extremely absent-minded and inefficient employee should be replaced, but when I suggested it, my client defended the employee by praising his brilliance. The employee is an expert in drafting and electrical design with more know-how than most engineers.
Despite his constant frustration, my client clings hopefully to this employee’s brilliance. This employee, who clearly knows better, consistently arrives late to work, forgets tools and materials, and fails to complete basic tasks – and he is not the only employee at this business with this problem.
However, the business owner is well aware of his team’s failings, and well aware of their brilliance. He always says, “They could be so successful, if only…”
Why Brilliance Doesn’t Shine
People who have exceptional skill in one complex area are often lacking when it comes to basic functions. That’s just human nature. This probably has something to do with the way the brain works, but you would have to ask a neurologist to explain the details. As a boss, you just need to know how to fix the problem.
Those who excel in a particular area often thrive in larger organizations, rather than in small business, where almost every employee is expected to perform various duties.
I once knew a bookkeeper who interviewed well, had excellent experience, and was bright, ambitious, and unafraid. To a small business looking to hire their first full-time bookkeeper, he seemed like the obvious choice.
However, after several months of errors in the books and mistakes that cost the firm money and damaged their reputation, the company had to let the bookkeeper go. The firm’s managing partner was, to say the least, disappointed and puzzled. Why had such a promising hire failed to meet expectations?
The bookkeeper was used to working at much larger companies, where he was responsible for only a small part of the transactions and had other team members with the same skill-set to help fix his mistakes.
He was, essentially, a line worker, and struggled with the transition to a smaller company where he had to operate solo. The transition might have been successful, had he received more training and support, but he was ultimately a miss-fit for the job.
Hiring people with amazing and unique skills seems like a great idea, but brilliance requires a certain level of support and structure to shine brightly. If your team is built on brilliance, you need to have a plan in place to hold it all together.
To build a dream team of rock star employees, follow these five steps:
1.First Things First
Before hiring a new employee, assess your business and the needs of your company. If you’re looking for a strong bookkeeper, the world’s most brilliant musician just won’t get the job done.
Analyze your business carefully. What talent are you ready to bring in? Is business booming? Is production going smoothly? Is your business ready to grow?
If you’re looking to cut down on the number of hours you spend at work personally, consider which tasks you want to delegate. Hire someone to answer phones if you want to spend more time placing supply orders or hire someone to place supply orders if you want to be the one answering phones.
It doesn’t make sense to hire an incredible receptionist when you need an accountant. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing brilliance when you see it, but you need to stay focused on the needs of your business to thrive. The first step is knowing exactly what your business needs.
2. Don’t Stop There
Hiring is just the first step. From there, on-boarding, training, and mentoring are vital to building a strong team. Hiring good employees is not a guarantee of success; employees need to be molded and trained to complement your business.
Even if you think an employee doesn’t need training, you might be wrong. The bookkeeper from earlier could have been successful at a smaller company – with the proper training. He had experience, certainly, but his experience was a miss-match for his new job.
Training is about more than just technical knowledge. New employees need to be trained to perform their job the way you want them to. They need to be taught the procedures and protocols specific to your business and learn how to operate as part of your unique team.
3. Stick With It
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither is the perfect employee. Training is more than just sitting down with a manual. The process might include videos, hands-on experience, and training individually with more established team members.
Training should also be consistent. Repetition is crucial to retaining important information, and practice is vital to honing and perfecting new knowledge and skills.
Remember, the human brain can only absorb and retain so much information at once. Cramming all your training into one day is about as ineffective as cramming for a final exam in an hour. Train your new employees in short bursts, and give them time to rest, recuperate, evaluate what they’ve learned, and put their new knowledge into practice.
Once a new skill has been learned and practiced, employees can be evaluated and retrained. On-going training allows employees to continue to grow and learn new skills indefinitely.
4. Tie It All Together
The point of a team is to form a cohesive group capable of working together to accomplish tasks that no one member could achieve alone. The stronger the team, the better the results.
Today, group work is common practice in schools, teaching students to work together, rely on each other, and share equal credit for the final product. In recent years, business has also become a collaborative activity. A 2016 New York Times article states ‘‘the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 percent or more.”
Communication is vital to keeping collaborative work on-track, and it’s the boss’ job to guide the process by modeling strong teamwork and ensuring clear communication. This means melding new employees into the group immediately so they can learn to trust and rely on both you and their fellow team members.
5. Ask for Help
To many business owners, asking for help is just admitting you can’t do something on your own, and that’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re accustomed to being successful and independent.
One of my client’s partners once reminded her that they went to law school, not management school – and that’s a good perspective to have. You might be an expert in your field, but no one is an expert in everything. Everyone needs help when venturing outside of their comfort zone.
Many of my clients are highly educated professionals who already have trouble admitting when they need help. The problem is only made worse by the assumption that the thing they can’t do is second nature to every other business owner in the world.
Are you ready for the big secret? Many business owners are marginal, at best, at managing their employees, and many are downright poor. Business owners with expertise in extremely technical fields often find management even more challenging.
But there’s nothing wrong with that. Some things are best left to the experts. You call a plumber when the toilet floods, and you see a mechanic when you need an oil change. So, why wouldn’t you ask for help hiring and managing your employees? Consulting an expert is the best way to avoid costly mistakes.
Building to Success
My client, with his team of miss-fit toys, reached out for help. Now, he’s building a stronger team by creating the structure needed to pull his miss-fits together into a cohesive unit. Best of all, he didn’t have to fire anyone and lose the brilliance that caused him to hire them in the first place.
My client was frustrated by what his employees were lacking, and his employees were distressed by his constant criticism. Therefore, trust faded, and the communication gap grew. It took an impartial outsider to help him recognize that his employees had the desire to succeed, but needed better structure, training, and management.
Now, with a framework of incentives and consequences, his employees are learning to rely on each other. They are motivated to improve and are working together so they can all approach their full potential.
The business owner is learning, as well. He is focusing on praise, rather than criticism, to motivate his employees. As his team members strive to improve, fewer errors will be made, and the business will begin to operate as a cohesive unit.
Even if your employees aren’t perfect now, you can build a strong team without needing to replace any of the people you so painstakingly selected to join your company. You can create a collaborative work environment and a sense of trust and community. It just might take a little help