Building a small business team is never as easy as it sounds. When you first got started, you probably thought a lot about your customers and their needs — and how you could help them. You may have just assumed that you could easily find others who care as much as you do. That couldn’t be further from the case.
Hiring employees can be a crapshoot. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes the best candidate isn’t the one actively looking for a job, and you need to learn some clever techniques to hire that passive employee.
The only way to get better is to learn through experience. You learn the key things to look for in people that will tell you they’ll be a solid, long-term employee. If you’re just starting out and haven’t racked up a few years under your belt, here are some tips to help you build a winning team to grow your business.
Identify Your Needs
Running a small business is a lot like running an NBA team. They’re constantly looking for ways to improve their squads, and the first thing they do is evaluate what they need. If they lack outside shooting and defensive toughness, they create strategies to address those needs with their available resources. The teams that do the best job of addressing deficiencies are the ones that win championships. Just look at John Wooden.
Take a good, hard look at your current team of employees. What are you missing? How can you get what you need with your available resources?
Hire On Culture, Not Qualifications
The person with the right qualifications isn’t always your best choice. The single most important aspect of your business is your culture, and you should consistently look for team members who evoke, maintain and build your current culture. If your environment is fast-paced, upbeat and communicative, you probably shouldn’t hire someone who is slow to act and lacks social skills — even if he does really good work.
When you really have a team that gets along, they’re happier, and happier teams always do better work. When you’re doing culture screenings, ask questions that get down into their personality. One of my favorite interview questions is “Tell me a story.” It forces people to think on their feet and you learn about them personally. You could also use personality tests to help them screen new hires.
Engage and Motivate
Once you have hired the perfect people for your organization, the real work begins. Lots of small business owners simply turn new employees loose on important projects and hope for the best. It’s easy to understand why. Entrepreneurs are almost always pressed for time. That’s why you hire people in the first place: to do stuff that needs to be done that you don’t have time to do.
If you don’t make a serious effort to show your employees that you notice and appreciate their work, though, you run the risk that they will lose interest and motivation. Most employees crave feedback, even negative feedback, as long as it comes from somebody they believe is trying to help them improve. Sincere praise for a job well done can go a long way toward building a strong relationship of trust.
Another good motivating factor is competition. Our sales team constantly has competitions and contests that encourage them to hit their numbers, and when they do, they’re rewarded. Your employees are working hard for you, so reward them every now and then when they’ve exceed your expectations.
Set Clear Expectations
People are smart and hard working. They want to succeed. They want to feel they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. It’s your job to lay out a compelling vision and clear expectations.
Make sure each person on your team has individual goals and know how they relate to the company’s overall objectives. Give them your well-defined guidelines and any necessary resources. Communicate small victories, policy changes and company events with all employees so they feel they are part of the team and remain committed to its success.
The best NBA franchises have one goal every season: to win the championship. And everybody on the team, from the front office to the coaching staff to the players and even the trainers, knows it. Are you ready to build your own winning team?