After growing a business, there will come a time when any founder must build a team to take the company to the next level. However, it can be difficult to recruit and to know what to look for in candidates at such a crucial stage. In addition, building a team requires entrepreneurs to become leaders, an evolution that can be as difficult as knowing who to hire.
NAILING THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS
Hiring is the first stage to master. Having a prepared set of questions always helps with the formal recruitment process, but after interviews make time for an informal chat too. Often, getting to know people, what makes them tick and really listening to their answers gives you a better picture of if they would be a good fit for your team than the standard interview process.
One question to ask is: ‘What do you aspire to do?’ The candidate’s goals can reveal a lot about their motivations and abilities. Ideally you need someone who has enough ambition to want the company to do well, but also to be committed to the position they’ve applied for.
Hiring people is one of the most important stages for growing your business, so it’s essential to get it right. Here are some things to consider every time when hiring someone new:
- Follow up on references. Always ask for the candidate’s latest reference, even if people have gaps in their employment. This will help you to assess if they are able to show commitment to a job.
- Understand that experience isn’t everything. It’s not recommended to employ an inexperienced accountant, but there are many roles that can be taught, and intelligence and willingness to learn are as important as having done a job previously.
- Consider the work culture you want to encourage. Your staff must reflect the values you hold dear, whether that means maintaining certain client or customer-facing practices, or if it’s a more easy going atmosphere. Expect your employees to respect one another, whatever their position in the company, head manager to apprentice, everyone has an important role to play.
- Listen to how someone speaks in the interviews. Someone who says ‘I’ or ‘me’ a lot might – be self-obsessed. Listen to their anecdotes about working in a team. You don’t have to find perfection but expect people to have a strong sense of community and team spirit.
LEARNING TO LET GO
Often the hardest part of building a team for a new business is learning to let go. Until this point, you will probably have been running most areas of the company by yourself or with a select few others. However, to take a new business to the next level also means learning to become a leader, understanding how to delegate and trust others.
The temptation will often be to step in and say, ‘I’ll do it’, even if you don’t need to, or have hired some-one perfectly capable of doing the job for you. It’s not because you are a control freak – it’s because you care and have grown accustomed to being involved in every aspect of your business. But your job as a leader is to manage overall, not to micromanage everything.
At this point, the role of every leader will start to diversify. If you prefer a small, family-like feel to your business, you might not need to hire extra managers. If your aspirations for growth are broader, it might be sensible to hire other managers and invest in a leadership course to develop your skills.
A growing business profile also often comes with a more public profile for leaders. With a trusted team behind you to ensure the day-to-day running and success of the business, you may find yourself needing to step out as the public face of a brand, engage with the media and share your personal story. Although it might not be your comfort zone, as a leader this becomes part of your role in the larger business, and building the right teams means you can perform it to the best of your ability without distractions.
It is also your responsibility to inspire and motivate your team, and to make doing their job easy for them. You can do this by:
- Having clear goals and expectations for your staff. From the start, make duties, roles and the expected workload very clear.
- Keep up staff morale. Encourage regular treats and time for staff to get together. If your team likes one another, they will work better together as a team. If morale is high, good staff will want to stay long-term.
- Trust your team. Trust increases a sense of safety and openness. A culture of trust creates a dynamic workplace where people feel able to speak up if needed and make decisions quickly and effectively. A place that is full of trust is a pleasant place to work. Encourage your team to do more than they think they can do and encourage an innovative rather than a copycat culture. Problems are solved with creative solutions.
- Show compassion. Even if you are the boss, put the human side first. If you treat your staff well, they will have more respect for you and the company, and they’ll want to do their best.
Any new business comes to the point when they need to grow their team, and in the process of doing so, it’s essential that every entrepreneur approaches recruitment with an open mind and a focus on the values of their business. However, building a team also requires founders to become leaders, and building a team demands as much from a founder individually as it does from new employees.
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