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Building Effective Teams – Part 1

I am excited to talk to you today about Building Effective Teams, and more specifically, your role as CEO in creating your “best” team ever!

We are going to discuss what it takes to hire and train an effective staff so that you can do everything you can to prevent employee problems down the road.

But before we dive into the hiring process, we need to lay some groundwork first. One of the greatest opportunities about being a Women entrepreneur is crafting your ideal position. And so many times, we put ourselves last, meaning we pick up the pieces of what others can’t do. Not anymore!

Here are three good questions to get you on path:

  1. What are the things about what you do right now that you love? These are the things you want to keep!
  2. What are the things that you are good at, and no one else is doing them right now, but you hate them? These are the things you need others to do for you.
  3. Where are the missed opportunities?

You might not be sure about answering this last question because you don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t fret.

Here’s some really simple advice: If you haven’t already, adopt the philosophy of being a lifelong learner. As the CEO, you will never stop being responsible for constantly up-leveling your “own” skills, knowledge and expertise.

Once you get clear on what success looks like for “you”, only then you are really ready to begin to ascertain what skills and competencies you need help with and in each area of your business.

Here are some basic yet important questions to consider:

  • About how many years experience do they need? Do you need a seasoned expert, or will a novice with the right work ethic, attitude and desire to learn do?
  • Are you willing to take on someone with a corporate background versus someone who has been his/her own solopreneur or worked for a small company?
  • Is an education or certification important? If so, are Continuing Education classes required or are licenses needed to be renewed. Are you going to be willing to give the time off and/or pay for the associated expenses.
  • How much relevant training have they had? And how recent is it?
  • How will you be able to measure someone’s commitment or passion for their work?
  • What personality works best with you?

Let’s talk about the Job Description first. There are six parts to the job descriptions. They are:

  1. Job summary – Think of this as your 50,000 foot overview of the position.
  2. Major Duties & Responsibilities – Here is where you identify the nitty-gritty, meaning how the employee will be spending about 85-90% of their day.
  3. Qualifications, Knowledge and Experience – Here you will capture minimum education, minimum years of experience, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities like any particular required computer skills (like Excel, Infusionsoft), regulatory knowledge, certifications, licenses – even languages.
  4. Provide any supervisory functions or authority – like hiring recommendations, hiring decisions, delegation or coordination of the work of others; approval of others time records or expense reports, makes budget decisions, etc.
  5. Typical Career Path – Where possible, we like to let our people know what other positions in the company they can move into or get promoted to
  6. Physical demands – It’s important in the hiring process to be clear about the amount of sitting, standing, walking, driving a position has, so that you aren’t surprised about limitations after the fact!

Now, once you are armed with this information, some big questions arise:

  1. How do you find these people?
  2. How will you know them when you see them?
  3. And furthermore, how do you make sure that, once they’re hired, they get the training they need to do the best job they can?

Let’s take a close at each of these questions.

1) First, how do you find the best candidates by which to choose?

Once you are clear in what you want, one of the best ways to find candidates is through networking! The more specific you are with your requirements, they better you will be aligned with the ideal candidate. You can also tap into online resources like LinkedIn, Angie’s List, Career Builder, Indeed and Monster.

2) Second, “How do you know you’ve got the right candidate when you see them?

You can never underestimate the importance of chemistry, attitude and cultural fit. You want people who can work with everyone, who come up with good ideas, who can work independently. They are, in short, the ones you can rely on and trust.

Once basic chemistry needs have been met, here is a list of ways to verify and validate that you have the perfect candidate:

  • A way to ensure you have the right candidate is to ask great interview questions. So, if say, “initiative” is required in your company, you would ask the candidate, “Give me an example of how you took initiative in your last position.
  • Reference checks. We always ask for specific people we want to talk to. You want to talk to past managers – for the last two jobs. I always say to the candidate during the last interview before you check references, “What was the name of your last boss at XYZ company? Once they tell you it’s say, Bob, I then say. Imagine I call Bob this afternoon ask him what are the three skills and competencies you excel at, what do you think he would say? If I asked Bob what your learning edges are so that I can factor in how to invest in growing you, what would he say?” It gets you away from the standard “What are your strengths and weaknesses from the “Candidates” perspective. Now you can hear what they believe their previous manager would say. And you can verify if the two responses match. A disconnect, in my opinion, is a red flag.
  • Finally, make the nominal investment in doing a formal reference checks, criminal background checks, drug history checks, etc. Understanding the need to hire professionals who can help you in these departments is crucial – for example, if you have contacts for drug testing laboratories such as Countrywide Testing, it might be helpful for you to get any kind of substance usage tests done. Nonetheless, this depends on sector to sector and employer to employer. For instance, you would also need to consider getting credit checks (especially if your open position is in the accounting department) done in certain scenarios. You can check this helpful site to see how background checks like this can be done for the good of the company and team.

3) Finally, the third question, How do you make sure that, once they’re hired, they get the training they need to do the best job they can?

This is a very important question! The ways people are hired AND TRAINED will have a direct correlation to your company’s success.

Once you hire the right people to build your team, consider getting to know individual core strengths (as well as weaknesses). When you have an idea of the character and personality of each team member, then working through them and eliminating problem areas become easier. You can go here to find comprehensive agile team assessments that your employees can take, which could help develop action plans for efficient work. You can do this at the start, middle, or end of training sessions – pick a time that you think is favorable, all things considered.

Truth be told, most small business owners don’t have training materials. As you train your first hires for ANY position, make sure that they are creating documentation on everything that learn as well as the expertise they are bringing to your company.

In the end you must remember that the way you hire your team and then how it plays together as a whole will determine your company’s success. You may have the greatest individual superstars, but if they don’t play well together and understand how they fit into the bigger picture, your company won’t be able to sustain success over time.

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