When you first start your business, you’re probably going to handle everything yourself. You’ll be the customer service rep, the accountant, the sales manager, the marketer, and every other role it takes to get your business running and profitable. But as your business grows, one of the smartest moves you can make is to build an effective team to support your mission and goals.
If you have a solid team, you’ll be able to move faster, execute better, and accomplish more. When you have the right people working in your business, you can focus on the things you do best while trusting them to handle their area of expertise. A good team is one of the keys to growing your business and consistently increasing your revenue.
But building the right team is harder than it sounds.
There’s more to it than hiring people who are good at what they do. Your team members need to have discipline and a great work ethic. You should be able to trust them to show up every day and deliver a mile past excellence. Your team also needs to be aligned with the vision and values for your company. It doesn’t matter how good they are at their role if they aren’t a good fit for the culture and mission of your business.
I was recently hiring for several roles in my business and got a flood of applications. Most of them didn’t make the cut. Some didn’t read the job description or the application form properly and submitted resumes and samples that were irrelevant to my companies. Other people didn’t put any effort into completing the application form, showing me that they didn’t have the kind of dedication I was looking for. Some people had great applications, but when we got to the interview stage, their attitudes didn’t match the culture and values I want and need on my team.
I said no to every single one of those people. Because I’m not willing to compromise my standards and expectations just to fill a role. My team needs to be solid because I’m going to be trusting them with my businesses. If I hire the wrong people, and they make easy mistakes or bad decisions that put my companies at risk, that’s on me. So, I’m always extremely thorough in my hiring process, and you should be too.
Here are 7 things you can do to build an effective team:
1. Get clear on what you need
The first step in any process needs to be clarity. So, before you hire, take time to clarify what you’re hiring for and why. There are two things you can look at to decide what you need to hire.
- What demand are you getting from your customers/clients that you don’t have the resources to meet? For example, it might be a customer service rep who can make sure clients get the support they need fast or a website developer who can build a site that can handle a high volume of traffic.
- What tasks do you have on your to-do list that you should be delegating to somebody else? If you’re not an expert at accounting or great with sales, then you should aim to hire your weaknesses.
Every entrepreneur will have different answers to these questions depending on what their business does and what kinds of skills they have. But figuring out the answers will help you understand who you need to hire first.
2. Make your application process a filter
Once you know exactly what roles you’re hiring for, write out thorough job descriptions. Include things like a description of your company and culture, the duties and responsibilities of the role, and any other expectations you have for the people you hire. Then, create an application form for each role that asks questions about their skills and experience, their values and principles, and examples of their work.
How people fill out your application form will tell you a lot about them and whether they are a good fit for your team. Are they too lazy to take the time to write good answers? Do they have values that align with the ones you have for your company? Are they honest about their strengths and weaknesses? Do their samples or portfolio match the quality you’re looking for? Let these questions help you filter out weak candidates.
3. Pick the best, and then dig deeper
Once you’ve got a good group of candidates to choose from, make sure they’re actually who they say they are on the application. People can be very good at pretending to be disciplined, skilled, and effective. But if you want to build an effective team, you need to know they can deliver. The first step to this is to invite candidates for an interview. This is a chance to ask deeper questions and find out more about who they are, what they do, and how they operate.
If a candidate does well in the interview, you can put them to the test. On my team, we give candidates a simple (unpaid) test to make sure they can do things like follow directions, move quickly, and take the initiative to find the information they need to get the job done. That test will look different for every role, but it should be designed to help you make sure your candidate is up to the task you’re hiring them for.
4. Try before you buy
If a candidate impresses you through the interview and test, put them on a paid trial. This is a chance to ‘try before you buy,’ by investing a small amount of cash to see how the person handles a full workload. I usually do a week’s trial. This gives me enough time to see how well they handle multiple responsibilities, deal with feedback, and fit in with the rest of the team. This also gives the candidate a chance to see what they can expect when they join the team officially.
This trial isn’t about perfection. It should be hard enough to challenge the candidate, so don’t expect them to get everything perfect. Remember, the purpose is to make sure they’re the right person for the team.
5. Cover your back with good contracts
Once your candidate passes the trial, it’s time to hire. But not before you get them to sign a contract that protects your business. Your contract should cover things like:
- Duties and responsibilities – everything you expect your new team member to do
- Compensation – what you’ll pay, when you’ll pay it, and where invoices should be sent
- Intellectual property – who owns the work your new hire creates while working for you
- Non-disclosure and Confidentiality –protection of private information about your business and clients
- Competition – what your hire should know about creating a competing business or working for competitors
- Termination – what needs to happen if either you or your team member wants to terminate the contract
- Nature of relationship – whether the role is full-time, part-time, or an independent contractor
Depending on the kind of business you have and the role you’re hiring for, your contract might include other things, but these are some of the fundamentals.
6. Create a process for growth and development
Nobody is perfect, including your team members. Your role as a leader is to help them be the best at their job. This means giving feedback and reviews to let them know how they can improve and providing ongoing training so they can sharpen their job and leadership skills. One of the simple things I do to help my team grow is give them the list of books I use to develop myself personally and professionally.
Building an effective team also means knowing how to support your team members when they mess up. Not every mistake has to be fixed by firing the person. Sometimes, what your team member needs is training and support to help them get back on track when they fall off. Have a process in place to re-train or support your team members when things go wrong.
7. Know when it’s time to fire
Sometimes, training and support aren’t enough to fix an issue with a team member. When you’ve tried everything else, the only choice is to let the person go. As a leader, you need to determine what you see as a reason for termination. On my team, I fire people when they breach the terms of our contract; consistently fail to perform their duties, even with training; do something to endanger my businesses’ reputations; or get into trouble with the law.
Your reasons might be different from mine, but you should be clear about what they are and about what your process for firing someone looks like. Hopefully, you never have to use that process, but it’s always better to be prepared than to be caught out.
You can’t keep trying to run your business alone. At some point, if you want your business and your bottom line to grow, you have to invest the time and money to build an effective team. Even if you start with just one team member, you’ll be giving yourself the support you need to move towards your mission and vision for your company.
If you need support and direction to create your own hiring process or building your team, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how our new Black Service can help you scale and decentralize command to help you grow your business.