Many businesses, large and small, face the challenge of hiring and keeping the “right” people for their organization – some more so than others. It’s truly sad to see a business struggle when there are simple strategies to remedy it.
A well-built dream team will consist of all the players who blend perfectly well together and perform best at their own roles. Just like a sports dream team, they create an unstoppable force in the game of business.
Business owners, in reality, “fight fire” on a regular basis – in some instances even daily. They are pulled in all directions possible, jumping from one emergency to another. It could be an accounts problem in the morning followed by a customer service blowup in the afternoon. One after another, the employees exhaust the business owner who wonders why these people he/she hired can never take care of the problem themselves.
In this article, I look at the specific factors that make a truly great hire. This person will turn out to be a real asset to the business and not a liability. Let’s get to it…
To make a breakthrough in business team building, realize that employees are not really employees. They are supposed to be team members. This important distinction shifts the business owner’s mindset to create an atmosphere of cooperation and team work which are keys to productive output. This is true synergy where the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Here are the 9 Essential Characteristics Needed to Identify a Dream Team Member:
1. Hire honest & hardworking people – Business owners must strive to hire honest people because anything less could be disastrous. There is no partial honesty or degrees of honesty. There is only honest and dishonest. Think Enron, MCI WorldComm, Arthur Anderson, etc. Often, a lie begets a lie in order to cover up the previous. Even the slightest hint of dishonesty can bring down a company’s reputation and destroy years, even decades of work building it up. Here’s a scenario: The lead engineer at a software company fails to report the known bugs that haven’t been fixed in order to the company to deliver a project deliverable by the deadline and avoid liquidated damages. He’s hoping that certain cases will not be run for the next month or so while he gets the development team to fix it quietly. When the software gets delivered, the client finds out it doesn’t work after some time. The lead engineer has jeopardized the company’s reputation by hiding the true facts and causing lots of problems on both ends. In the end, there are more problems to fix as compared to the lead engineer asking for more help before the delivery date to complete the project on time.
A good work ethic is key to a team members individual performance. The last thing any business owner wants are people who come to work to goof-off or socialize. Once a bad apple is brought into the business, it can easily infect the others in the team. This person will be a major distraction from daily activities slowing the progress of everyone in the company.
2. Motivation – A team member needs internal drive to better themselves. No amount of monetary incentive will ever change the innate motivation of people. If they simply don’t have any drive, a business would be best to do without them. Leopards don’t change their spots. Neither do unmotivated, mediocre people. They do nothing except sap the energy of the surrounding productive people.
3. Right Profile for Position Being Filled – Business owners must seek the people who possess the right psychological and behaviorial profiles for the business. If a business seeks a top sales person for example, they must find the person who has the right psychological and behavioral profile for the job. It has nothing to do with whether their past jobs required any selling. It also has nothing to do with their gift for the gab either. They have to possess the make-up of a top producing sales person. Training can only do so much for people. If they hate cold-calling and the task requires them to cold-call, they’ll certainly fail miserably at their job. Similarly, if a business seeks an accountant or engineer, the person must really LOVE numbers and be extremely proficient and pays attention to the details. Mistakes are not tolerated by this person because they can’t be. A civil engineer cannot be off by even a fraction in his calculations because it can mean major and costly problems when a bridge or road is built. In my team building program, I reveal specific tests and processes that help business owners identify the right people for the job.
4. High Expectations of Themselves and Others – The right candidate will be a high performer at their task. They also expect others to be the same and feel uneasy in an environment of mediocre personnel. They push themselves and everyone around them to improve themselves, seek better solutions, and perform at peak potential.
5. Good Chemistry with Existing Team – Many business owners leave their existing team out of the loop thinking that they know nothing about hiring since they are the boss. That’s a BIG mistake. Team members can offer a great deal of input and insight into the potential hire if given a chance and the right atmosphere. Consider this: a team is made up of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Some have the ability to “size up” people in less than 5 minutes during a conversation. Why not use that ability to help you determine if the people being considered can truly contribute to the existing team? Remember, the potential hire must be able to work with the rest of the team or it can cause lots of friction down the road. In my team building program, I cover the exact steps of a recruiting process.
6. Plays By the Rules – Many businesses don’t create rules for everyday business behavior. Sure, they define things like when a person should come to work and take lunches, etc. That’s not what I’m referring to here. Team members must understand what behaviors are acceptable and what’s not. There is no tolerance for slip-ups. An example to illustrate. Say you set a time for a meeting and one or two straggle in after 5 to 10 minutes. If nothing is said and the matter is swept under the carpet, others in the room start to think it is alright to be late for meetings. Pretty soon, more than half of the meeting attendents show up late. If, however, a comment is made and the behavior continues without reprimand, the same unwanted behavior will spread to the rest of the meeting attendents. Not good again. A business needs everyone to participate in making the rules and adhering to them. It’s not the business owner’s “job” to police everyone and enforce the rules. Doing so will only lead to the same “fire-fighting” style of management which no business owner likes to perform (at least I hope not). In the absence of rules, people create their own. So, create rules for the business and be specific so it can be enforced by the team.
7. Advocate of Your Company’s Products/Services – While this seems obvious, many overlook it for reasons like #9 which I’ll get to below. Advocates (even better, have raving fans) naturally incline themselves toward speaking good things about the product/service thereby reflecting well on the business overall. A person who only joins because of a paycheck and not because they believe in what they are working to build will never truly participate in providing innovative ideas that will help the business. In other words, find people with passion. Passionate people will enjoy coming to work and contribute more than what is expected of them.
8. Takes initiative – A business should only hire the people who are independent thinkers. People who lack initiative usually end up utilizing much of the business owner’s time in guiding and monitoring them. The team should be able to handle themselves without too much of a business owner’s input.
9. Talent – I put this last in the list for a reason. Why? Too many business owners place a large weight behind this. Some think that hiring the smartest guy from an Ivy League college or has the most experience will turn their business around. While I believe that smart people have an important role in business, I don’t believe that it should be the major criteria in hiring. That’s because if they lack the previous characteristics mentioned earlier, a business should not want them. A business owner should also never be afraid to hire someone smarter than him/her. Hiring only the best instills pride in the rest of the team because it sends an unspoken message – we only hire the best and you are one of them.
There you have it. The 9 essential characteristics to dream team building. If any of them challenge your conventional ideas, I hope you’ll keep an open mind and apply them to your business. Being open-minded helps you explore new avenues that would otherwise be discarded before even put to the test. If you encounter any challenges, do feel free to contact me for help. If you experience a shift in the way business is run, I’d certainly like to hear about your experiences.
Anthony Yap is an entrepreneur and business coach who enjoys working with business owners who have a passion to grow their business and take a quantum leap. He also offers a step-by-step method to team building that covers all the details of building a truly exceptional team. Please provide a direct link back to billionaireintraining.com if you wish to reprint this article.