No true leader is an island. It is rare and practically unheard of for a successful entrepreneur to survive as a solo operation, even in the age of the Internet. Eventually, and often sooner than later, you will need to call in support to grow your business. This can be tricky if you haven’t managed employees or contractors before; and the learning curve is steep unless you educate yourself in the process.
It may take some trial and error to find people who are reliable and willing to work as hard for your business as you do. It may take time to let go of your need to control every detail. But the best way to ensure you are building the kind of team that will improve and inspire your brand is to follow these five steps as you create your dream team.
1. Listen to your gut.
First impressions really can be everything. And you may not want to judge your prospects on this, but you will want to be crystal clear about the image you want your team members to portray -- especially when you're weeding through a lot of applicants.
Depending on your business priorities, "first impressions" may not mean appearance so much as attitude. So, listen to your gut when you meet with interviewees and let your intuition give you that extra edge when candidates' resumes make them seem equally qualified. What energy do you want to be surrounded by day in, day out?
2. Focus on character first.
Skills can be acquired and nurtured far more easily than character. The truth is that integrity, honesty, loyalty and all-around good character is harder to come by than skill or talent. This is certainly not the quick and easy way to decide on a candidate, as it may take you longer to find a good fit. Yet you will save yourself time and frustration in the long run when you hire an individual based equally on his or her qualifications and character.
3. Make culture a high priority.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s best-selling book, Delivering Happiness, speaks to the incredible power of business culture to create success. His research shows that companies with a higher sense of purpose outperform those without this sense by fully 400 percent.
The companies "with" purpose also display higher retention, an increase in sales and productivity, fewer sick leaves, less burnout and more. One need only look to Google and Apple for examples of how culture creates success. Will a potential teammate embody your culture and purpose? Lay the cultural foundation from the beginning.
4. Advisors are a necessity.
You absolutely need to add advisors to your team if you haven’t found them already. Business veterans old and young alike who have “been there, done that” can save you a lot of money and heartache along the way. Invest in coaches and mentors whose experiences may enrich your perspective.
5. Don’t be afraid to let go.
Firing people sucks. It just does. Especially if you happen to have a heart, which hopefully you do. Be sure to invest in some emotional intelligence training, and practice compassionate communication. When it becomes apparent that you have made a poor choice in your hiring, you will need to let go of teammates who just aren’t working out.
At some point that will probably happen, but rather than being dragged down by a poor team member, you should allow yourself to do what’s best for the company.
After all, you are in charge of leading your team, so step up to the challenge and seek advice from those who have "been there" while still taking 100 percent responsibility for any breakdowns. You will thrive with the right team behind you; and so much more will be possible for your business and your life.