Why having the right team is essential to your success
How to find, keep and grow the right team members for your business
As an entrepreneur or owner of a small business, having the right team in place is one of your greatest forms of leverage (with capital and systems being equally important). However, even the most systemised and financially well-backed business won’t be able to grow successfully without the right team. Sure, they may have their business model down-pat and have plenty of capital to make growing a much smoother proposition, but without the right people to run the business and actually work ‘IN’ the business (the way it was intended to be run), that business stands a poor chance of success.
With team being such an important component of business, especially for small businesses, what are some of the common mistakes far too many companies make when it comes to team? And which strategies can you start using straight away to avoid those same mistakes and begin successfully finding, keeping and growing the right team?
1. Some surprising numbers of the Australian employment landscape
Approximately 2 in 4 full-time employees work in a ‘Small’ Business (defined as having annual turnover of $10 Million or less). The balance of full-time employees are roughly evenly split between ‘Mid-Sized’ companies (defined as having a turnover of between $10 Million and $250 Million) and ‘Large’ corporations (defined as having a turnover of $250 Million or more per annum). In other words, one in two Aussie workers are putting bread on their tables (or ‘earning a crust’, to use some Aussie slang) thanks to being employed in a small business. However, the estimated success rate of small businesses across most western countries over a 5 to 10 year period from start-up is a staggeringly low 20%. That means that up to 80% of entrepreneurs who start a small business will struggle to build it into a consistently profitable company. The owners may be able to pay themselves a wage (and maybe a bit more on a good year), however, the majority will eventually end up ‘throwing in the towel’ altogether after years of struggle. So, what keeps the small business sector going? New up and coming entrepreneurs along with employees from the Mid-Sized and Large sectors that have a dream to start their own business. There are a wide range of ‘typical’ and ‘common’ causes for such high rates of business failure, of which, one of the most important is the challenge for small companies to find, keep and grow the right team members; let’s examine that further.
2. Clear Strategy, Future Destination/Aspirations/Goals and Tactical Plans
Without doubt, one of the most surprising oversights of the majority of small businesses is having a clear strategy (how and why they will win in the marketplace). As part of a clear Strategy, every company should have a very clearly defined destination in mind… where do they want to get to? Where are they going? What are their goals and aspirations? Tangibly, what is the company trying to achieve and how will they do that? Additionally, an ongoing and fluid (constantly monitored and reviewed) business plan and clear set of tactics to make that strategy come to life is also overlooked far too often. Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective employee, would you rather work for a company that has plenty of upside in terms of career and earnings growth or for a company that’s not really sure where it’s going, how it’s going to get there and by when (if ever). Unless you’re choosing a company to work with for all of the wrong reasons, 99% of employees will choose the first option, their livelihood and brightness of future is very important to them!
3. Cause/Purpose for being in Business (Why they exist) and Values/Culture
Companies should be able to do well (economically) while also doing good (morally and ethically). But, to achieve success in both of these areas, I’d like to strongly suggest that a company must have a very strong Cause/Purpose for why they exist, why do they do what they do, why are they in business, how does the company help its’ customers and what does it help them do or be or achieve? Is it a healthier or happier lifestyle, more comfort in their life, less stress, more time etc… and who does the company help (specifically)? Is it farmers or the rural community, is it business owners, or maybe families etc… Every single person wants to be paid well and have career opportunities, but they overwhelmingly vast majority also want more… they want to feel like they are a part of something, that they are making the world or their community a better place, that they are having a real and measurable impact on people’s lives… something they can be passionate about! And I’d add onto this that they want to work for a company that’s values are in line with their own values, they want to work at a place that has a culture that inspires them and drives them to be better and challenged. A set of real and genuine values (guiding principles), that are adhered to and lived by within a company, are what creates a great culture (it is a bi-product of the values). And, when you combine those values and the resulting great culture with a very strong reason/cause/purpose for being in business, you have a very powerful combination of factors that will serve your company well and inspire the right team more than money or incentives on their own ever will… people want to be a part of something they believe in and are proud to say they are an integral part of!
4. Structure, Business Model, Organisational Efficacy, Environment of Urgency
Ok, so let’s assume your business now has a very clear Strategy, Future Destination/Aspirations/Goals and a fantastic and solid Business Plan/Set of Tactics to bring your Strategy to life as well as a real and genuine Cause/Purpose and Set of Values/Culture, what’s the next step, how do you maximise that amazing foundation?
Great question! It’s time to think of your business as a separate entity which has its’ own guidelines for how it functions, operates and is structured. First off, clarity on your Business Model. Are you franchise? Do you run an accountant or law firm partnership opportunity structure? Do you use a mix of employed and subcontracted team? Will you have one main office or multiple smaller offices? Etc… Next, what is the organisational structure of your business? Quite literally, what does your Organisational chart look like? How many positions are there in your business (not people, but positions)? Which people within your business run those positions? How will that Organisational Chart change over time in terms of numbers of each of those positons and numbers of people within those positions? Do you have Position Descriptions for each position within your Organisational Chart? Do you have guidelines for how your team will interact with each other? Don’t confuse this with values, what we’re talking about here is how to communicate effectively, how to successfully work as an organisation… Frequency of meetings, what type of meetings, who attends, what’s discussed, outcomes of meetings, methods to manage those outcomes of meetings and maybe most importantly the mindset everyone brings to the organisation in terms of communicating… does the best idea win? Are ideas allowed to be put forth and listened to? Is open and honest debate encouraged? Are ideas/tactics allowed to be questioned? Is there a great sense of urgency amongst team members, to move fast and get results even faster? People want to work for a company that is structured, where they know what they need to achieve and how they can achieve it and they want to be heard ad play an active part in the future of the company and what makes it successful and what makes it tick… given the opportunity, the right team members will embrace a structure that allows them to grow as the business does… to achieve that, your business needs to provide the proper structural environment for your team members to operate effectively within.
5. Intellectual, Emotional and Financial Fulfilment and Opportunities
Heart. Head. Wallet. Put quite simply, create an environment within your company that allows your team members to be emotionally fulfilled, intellectually stimulated and financially rewarded (preferably with the opportunity to share in the companies wealth/profits which they have the ability to directly contribute to in terms of growing the companies’ performance) you’ll have created a company that, with the right team members involved, will grow itself.
6. Attitude and Results
Skill can be trained. Attitude, unfortunately, most times is hard wired, but can be changed, but usually only by the person themselves. If you have all of the above in place, you’ll have put plenty of work and energy into creating a fantastic business and an environment of opportunity for the right people. The key word in that last sentence being ’right’. Right mindset, right desire, right outlook and right attitude. The last thing you want to do is put all of that in jeopardy by adding the wrong team members to the company. When recruiting, keep it simple, attitude must be a fit, if it’s not, regardless of the potential benefits of someone’s apparent skill, the rewards will not be worth the pain of the disruption the wrong attitude will create within your company. If skill is too far apart, not much you can do about that, but if you think someone has the right attitude and skill is close, maybe they can be trained up, remember, a burning desire to succeed can almost never be trained into someone. In terms of keeping and growing the right people (especially current ones already on board), again, keep it simple; ask yourself two questions: Do they have the right attitude? If yes, excellent, if No, a frank discussion is needed immediately and if no change in attitude, then another company may be a better option for them. Are they getting the results and outcomes they are accountable and responsible for? If yes, excellent (as long as the attitude is also what it should be) they are a potential future leader. If no and their attitude is not a right fit, this is a no brainer, you’re not the right company for them. If no and they have the right attitude, can you up-skill them provide more training or move them to a different area of the business. If all else fails in this case and none of those are options, what can you do to help them get into the right company where they can put the skills they do have to good use (they deserve the help).
Leadership sets the tone. No business can rise above the constraints of its leaders. Leadership has the duty and responsibility to make sure all of the above are in place. Leadership requires ethics and honesty, disambiguation and must live by the same rules as everyone one else in the company. Leaders help team members become the future leaders of the company by example. People want to work with great leaders!
Eric J. Gregory is the Author of ‘Would you like Profits with that?’ and the founder of
Gregory Business & Trades Coaching which specialises in working with SME Business Owners
and Entrepreneurs. For more information about Eric and his company
Please see www.gregorybusinesscoaching.com.au