The Chicago Bulls. The New England Patriots. The New York Yankees. Even if you’re not a die-hard sports fan, you probably recognize these names as examples of great teams. While each of these teams had superstars, their sustained success was due to more than just one person – they built winning organizations.
My guess is that you have a similar goal.
I get it – you aren’t trying to win a superbowl, but you are trying to have sustained success. You are trying to build a team that will help you build your business and reach your financial goals. I’m right there with you (although winning a superbowl would be pretty cool!)
Reaching these goals requires building the right team. Sounds simple right? Here’s a reality check that you’ve already received if you’ve been a leader for more than a few days – attracting and hiring the right team is not easy. There is a lot of competition. There are limiting factors that are unique to your business. Don’t even get me started on the challenges of attracting gen-z talent. That’s a whole separate blog post!
Over my career I’ve been part of some amazing teams as well as some teams that failed. As I look back on my almost three decades of leadership, there are some critical questions that helped me build strong teams. These are also the questions that I should have been asking for the teams that didn’t fare as well.
Question 1: Is my brand clear?
This question surprises a lot of people. I don’t think they are surprised that it is on the list as much as they are surprised that it tops the list. It takes the top spot because of one simple truth: If you don’t know who you are, neither will they. In order to attract the right people, you need to get crystal clear on your brand identity. Your brand is simply the story you are telling out in the world. It’s your reputation. It’s your identity. And it all starts with you.
When it comes time to hire your newest future superstar, alignment is far more important than talent. You can never guarantee alignment, but you can guarantee that you won’t have it if you aren’t clear on your vision, values, culture, and mission. A strong brand has benefits in both aspects of the hiring process. As an employer, you get clarity on what alignment you are looking for. Your potential employees get a clear picture of who you are as well – and they don’t get surprised when the actual job doesn’t live up to the interview process.
Question 2: Is my culture healthy?
The second question on my list is all about culture. I know it’s a buzzword, but culture is really about how it feels to work in your company. A culture where people feel acknowledged, inspired, challenged, and empowered will become a magnet for top talent. Creating a healthy culture takes time, so you won’t be able to flip the switch and immediately start attracting those A+ players. Instead, you need to focus on building the right culture with the people you have currently. If you are encouraging open communication, prioritizing employee well being, and recognizing and rewarding employees who reach their KPI’s – potential employees will take notice. More importantly, they will feel it. That feeling is often the deciding factor between your company and the others.
Question 3: Is my hiring process streamlined?
This question deals with logistics more than the first two, but in a competitive market it’s the details that make all the difference. If you have a lengthy and complicated process with unnecessary steps or gaps in communication – you will lose quality candidates. Furthermore, even if your candidate takes the job, a study from Paychex shows 80% of employees who have a bad onboarding experience end up leaving sooner than they originally planned. In other words, if people start with a painful, slow, or inconsistent process – retaining them becomes harder. The solution here is to make sure you have clear communication, well-defined expectations, and timely feedback.
One final thought. It’s easy for a busy leader to delegate things like onboarding, culture, and brand. There have been times in the past where I handed these off to other people so I could focus on, “more important” tasks.
I was wrong.
These 3 questions will impact the quality of the people you attract, and the performance of your team over time. Great leaders don’t make every decision in these areas, but they never let them fall off their radar.
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