Building A Great Team
I recently served as a panelist on “Building a Great Team” at the Association of Corporate Growth’s BIG (Build, Invest, Grow) Forum in Durham, NC. I wanted to share with you some of the ideas I presented at the panel discussion and some of my takeaways from the BIG Forum.
Skills versus Traits: I talked about the concept that most companies hire employees for skills, but then promote (or fire) them based on their traits. In other words, if I have a highly skilled employee and he/she does not have good traits such as team work and integrity, then he will not last long in the organization. An individual’s traits are the glue that hold teams together (or tears them apart).
Creating a Positive, Productive Culture: I also emphasized in my comments, and other panelists concurred, that company culture is important for success. As I mentioned in my blog on building a culture of innovation, if you don’t define and nurture your company’s culture, then your employees will develop one for themselves (and it may not be pretty…). Part of building the culture is setting the mission and vision right. People are motivated and positive when they have a purpose to work for and a goal to work towards. We at BRI spend a lot of time thinking and talking about our vision and values, which in turn drives the culture.
Trust, but Verify: Trust is so critical at all levels of the organization. As Stephen Covey says in his book “The Speed of Trust,” trust is the key leadership competency in the new global economy.” With due respect to President Ronald Reagan and his famous quote “trust but verify”, business leaders and managers need to entrust their direct reports with duties and responsibilities, while also holding them “accountable” by verifying their work through objective measures, such as KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and achievement of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
Hiring and Firing: There was a lively discussion about hiring best practices as it related to interviews, using personality assessments, and compensation. I made the point that while companies should “hire slowly and fire quickly,” most small companies tend to do the opposite and hire quickly to fill a spot and then tend to hold on to problem employees too long before deciding to let them go. I have certainly made this mistake before, but now we spend an inordinate amount of time interviewing candidates, often sending them through one-on-one sessions with different team members and using personality assessments as a tool for looking at preferences and tendencies. In cases where we can bring potential employees on part-time or as interns, we have taken that route as well so that we can evaluate their fit with the team and they can see if they enjoy working with us.
I am by no means an HR expert or pretend to know all the keys to building a great team, but I think that as business leaders if we strive to do our best and be open and authentic about our strengths, weaknesses and challenges, and continue to work on them, then our teams will respect that and follow through.