12 Simple Things A Leader Can Do To Build A Phenomenal Team
By John Hall, published on Forbes, 01/29/2013
Whether you’re just starting to hire or expanding your existing team, attracting and encouraging top talent can be difficult. You want to find the best of the best – and find ways to help them thrive in your company.
In general, I’ve found that the following advice helps ensure that your employees are happy and successful – and that you are, too.
1. Don’t Settle for Mediocre: It’s not fun to fire people, so employers often settle for the first so-so person they hire. However, this practice can lead to weaknesses within a team. Once you realize a member of the team is performing at a mediocre level, call him out, but more importantly, support him to do better. If there’s no improvement, it’s time to find a new rock star for your team.
2. Be a Thought Leader: Top talent is too good to work for middling companies with weak brands. The more you can position yourself as an authority in your industry, the more talent will naturally be attracted to your business. I try to contribute to at least two publications each month to share my expertise with others, and those articles show up when potential hires research my company.
3. Trust is Crucial: A team member can be highly intelligent and a hard worker, but if you can’t trust that person, it’s time to let him go. If you keep that person on, you’ll have a bigger problem to deal with when disaster strikes. Your daily operations could take a big hit if you retain employees you can’t trust.
4. Forget the Money… at First: Hire a person whose main motivation is to build a team, or someone who has a passion for your business in general. Money is extremely important, but when it’s the main thing on someone’s mind, it can be a distraction. It’s important for your employees to care about the success of your business, and if all they see are dollar signs, their hearts may not be in it.
5. Personal Lives are Important: Recognize that your team members have personal lives. It’s easy to take small steps to celebrate birthdays, weddings, or other significant moments in their lives. If you see an opportunity to help a team member outside of work, it pays to take it. It helps build loyalty with your employees, and they tend to pay it forward with other team members.
6. Maintain Systematic Processes: Once you’ve achieved success in a certain area, create a process that mimics that success over and over. A great read on this topic is “The Checklist Manifesto.” In it, a hospital created checklists to create a systematic process for maintaining good health in the building, and they decreased infections by 66%. Checklists increase the effectiveness – and success – of a team.
7. Diversity Brings Innovation: There’s a reason diversity is a common topic among employers. To build a great team, you need diverse thinkers. A variety of races, ages, and sexes can help a team think outside the box and hit problems from many different angles. Plus, it makes your office a more interesting place to work.
8. It’s Okay to Be Friends: In most offices, you’ll spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your family. Being friends and getting along not only increases performance, it also leads to a great work environment. As long as you keep a goal-oriented focus and hold people accountable, you shouldn’t be scared of a team that’s made up of your friends.
9. Play to People’s Strengths: Find out what your employees are great at, but don’t forget about their weaknesses. Each team member should be spending time doing what he or she does best, but you should recognize weaknesses and help your employees improve. Don’t miss out on creating an all-around rock star employee just because he really “kills it” at one thing.
10. Great Teams Read Together: Leaders are readers, so if you’re going to create leaders within the team, they should consistently read. We’re always sharing articles and books among our team. It keeps us on top of recent trends and helps stimulate strategic thoughts.
11. Invest in Your First Five Hires: The more time you invest in training your first five hires, the less time you have to spend training the ones who join the company later. Make it a point to set aside time with each member to support him or her so everyone is prepared to show that same support to new employees as your company grows.
12. Give Recognition: Recognize people when they do something extraordinary. It not only gives people a sense of accomplishment, it inspires others to make efforts to go above and beyond their normal duties as well. We give a Championship Belt to a team member each week to recognize that person for doing something incredible. Even small efforts can make your employees feel appreciated and inspire them to do even more.
It takes time and effort to put together a dream team, but using the above strategies, I’ve managed to build an amazing group of employees I wouldn’t trade for anybody out there.