Assembling Your Company’s “Dream Team” (Part 2)
In the last post, we talked about what your company’s dream team should look like and today, we explore the realities of assembling such a team. We know that every function or role in an organization is important, but your senior team is most crucial to your company’s success. Your senior team will be the driving force, the executor of your plan, the manager of day-to-day operations.
This is why when venture capital firms give money to a company, they vet the executive team’s qualification as much as they scrutinize the “good idea” behind the business because it’s not important enough to have a good idea, it’s how it will be executed and managed, that is key to a company’s success.
In my own experience, through our stratospheric growth at AmericanBridal.com , we experienced growing pains like you wouldn’t believe. There were times that I doubted my own leadership skills. I had a crisis of confidence. I was so busy managing the day-to-day operations, growing sales and managing people that I was too overwhelmed. I felt most frustrated when my employees were frustrated and having trouble keeping up.
Work on your business instead of in your business.
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase many times over that you’re practically rolling your eyes this very minute. You need to take time to think, reflect outside of the walls of your company, go away, I’m not saying that you should go on vacation while there are fires to put out. You can go to the beach, the park, some place quite to think about your business goals. Questions that you can reflect on are: What is the purpose? Why do I have problem X? Why can’t this be done? Focus on the why questions first; you can work on the how later after you have evaluated the answers to your why questions.
In order to create your dream team, you must spend significant time and energy on your staff. As you begin to disengage from working in the business to working on it, read up on books on hiring. They will give you some insights and tips on what to look for in an ideal employee. Ultimately, you need to find individuals that have the skill set, experience, execution and management skills to help you grow your company. The key is to maximize your current team’s skill set, identify weaknesses and help them reach their maximize potential. Self-driven people don’t need to be motivated and managed; they naturally demand this of themselves. However, not all teams are comprised of only self-starters.
Let each person focus on his or her strengths and find another person to compensate for the weakness. For example, if your marketing director is brilliant with marketing ideas, but terrible at organization, hire or delegate an existing employee to crank out the reports and keep the marketing director focused on driving top line revenue.
If your company is structured solely on the owner’s skill set, sadly, your company will not grow, it will inevitably slow, stagnant then die. Once you figure out each of the team members, you’ll know who should stay, who should go, who you will need to bring on to help you. You must be willing to have the unpleasant conversation.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which team members can you NOT live without? And Why?
- Evaluate each of your senior team members skill set, what key decisions have they made in the past that were right on and which ones failed?
- Why was the right decision right and why did the others fail? (This is important in extracting and understanding how your team members think and their thought process.)
- If you were to go on vacation for 6 months or some unplanned time away, who would you leave in charge? What are their strengths and weakness?
It is equally important to evaluate yourself. You can’t quite fire yourself but its crucial to understand how you operate, your strength and weakness in order to find the team members that is compatible with you.
Questions to ask of yourself:
- What are main issues holding your organization back?
- What’s stopping you from hiring someone “that” good?
- Is your senior team customer focused?
Inevitably, there will topics your staff avoids discussing, and unfortunately, these are most likely the topics that you, the leader, need to address sooner than later (don’t let things fester; like cancer, it grows until you take action to remove it). One of your main goals of working on your organization is to create an environment where you and your people can openly discuss hot topics without fear of being punished.
For an entrepreneur who is accustomed to doing everything herself, managing people can be the most difficult part of running a business. But, it’s the people that make or break a company, so get comfortable and snuggle up with some good management and hiring how-to books. I cannot stress how important this is.
Make this your mantra:
Work on your business, not in your business (that’s not to say you can’t occasionally pick up the slack if an employee is out sick or our on vacation).
Take heart, if your team is terribly lacking in the overall skills to help grow your company, realize that it didn’t happen overnight, it took a while to get here and it will also take a time and some discomfort, to fix the problems. You need to be patient and allow time for re-evaluating and transitioning staff to fulfill the necessary roles.