There is a lot of material on the internet about team building and getting a team together. Yet I believe it is one of the major downfalls of business because most teams do not operate like a lean mean slick machine. And that normally means you are leaking thousands of dollars at best. Tens of thousands is probably normal. But if you have a larger team it's likely to be a few hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When you started up in business it might just be you. Then your business gets bigger and you start employing people and all of a sudden you're a leader too. You are expected to know all the answers and you are expected to listen to everyone's views, and if you don't take someone's suggestion you have to get your tea tested each time to ensure it has not been poisoned with arsenic.
One thing I have learnt over the last 15 years is this: If you have team members that do not have the confidence in you or do not respect you as a business leader, your team members will totally undermine you and you will struggle to maintain continuity because they come and go as one does in a hotel with a revolving door. Even if it happens to be a VA offshore.
Imagine a car engine. Every year it requires a service and an oil change. If you don't do it for one year it might be okay. Don't give car a service for 3 years and the oil get sludgy, the car uses more fuel, and gets a bit noisy. It then starts to misfire and the engine could seize and stop functioning.
Believe it or not, it is the same with your team. Your team is the engine of your business. The wrong people will work for a while but then things become sludgy, mistakes happen, and things just don't flow. The practice gets under pressure and then the practice starts to misfire. Without a good team, your business has the potential to just seize up.
It's all about balance too. In the same way you have no chance of winning a game of cricket with 11 bowlers and no batsmen, there is no way your business is going to make money if the balance of your team is wrong. Each member of your team is part of a jigsaw puzzle. Put them in the wrong place and the picture will look wrong.
So how do you get a great team in place? You really have two options.
1. Find experts.
These are ready-made, easy-to-slot-in people. They can be a godsend freeing up lots of time.
There is just one problem with experienced people: They tend to come with a lot of baggage and have already got preconceived ideas about how a task should be done. They are most likely to tinker with your systems and procedures. However, they can also bring in new ideas from elsewhere which work better.
And the biggest issue can be their attitude. Often I have clients who say they have a great person but their attitude to work, colleagues, and patients has a lot to be desired. Office politics come to mind as well as rudeness, but you stick with it because the person is good at their job.
2. Train From Scratch
In this case, you are taking people who are not very experienced and training them to your way of working. As they have no previous reference for doing the job, they simply do it without question.
It takes time to train, and in this day and age where there is limited loyalty, they could simply pack their bags and leave at any time, leaving you stranded.
However, when I choose my team, it is always about the right attitude and if they will fit into my team and my business. My basic rule is the following:
- Is this person willing to learn? Do they have a good work ethic, determination, and drive?
- Will they be fun to have in my office?
If the answer is negative on either of the two questions above, the balance will be off. I could have a person who is fast and awesome at doing tax returns, but if they have the personality of a slug, they have the potential to bring the level of fun in my office down to where we all want to slash our wrists. My place of work is about getting the job done while having fun in the process. In this case, the balance is off, although the main skillset is getting tax returns done and they are brilliant at it.
I have never really chosen based on skills. You see, I can teach skills. Yes, it will take time, but skills I can teach. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, teach attitude. They either have it or they do not. When I take on a team member and we have to choose one from a short list, the one with the right attitude will get the nod.
If you want to free up your time you should also surround yourself with people who can do things better than you. I may be an accountant but I have no idea how to use the software that produces our business client's financials. And I doubt Mr Branson knows much about Facebook advertising.
This means you need to get your team to think as one. The more open you are about what you want and what you want them to do, the easier it becomes.
This also means meeting with them regularly as a team and also individually. Your team meeting should be held weekly, involve everyone and you need to keep banging on about what is important to you and the business.
Finally, should you employ a family member? The answer depends on whether or not they are right for the job. Many people believe you should never employ a family member as it has the ability to destroy team morale if they believe that the surname is more important than ability. In my experience, that will only happen if the family member is not good at their job and you turn a blind eye to all the shortcomings. So if you are considering employing your spouse or your nephew who just happens to have three nose rings, just make sure they can do the job. If they can, all will be well. If they can't, expect a few unhappy faces, but more importantly don't complain when things do not operate smoothly. It may not be your team's fault.