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Master Your Small Business Team

By: Susan Solovic


Who invented the light bulb? If you said Thomas Edison, you’d only be partly correct. Edison never took credit for solely inventing the light bulb. He acknowledged it took a team of diverse talent with a passion for excellence. To “invent” your successful business, you need a diverse team of players who augment your skill set and who also want to stake a claim for success.

Before you start to build your team, write your own ideal job description for your business. If money were no object, and you could hire as many employees as you needed to run your business, what would you do that would deliver the most value to your company? Now, think about your weaknesses. What are the areas of your business where you lack the skills to really manage the operations successfully? Use this information as a guide to begin to identify the types of people you need to build your rock star team.
Finally, make sure you can clearly articulate your big vision so your team can embrace it and invest in it. A recent Gallup poll found 70 percent of workers hate their jobs or are completely disengaged. Unhappy and unmotivated employees cost businesses billions of dollars annually. One study conducted by Gallup estimates lost productivity of actively disengaged employees costs the economy about $370 billion per year. Disengaged employees also affect customer relations. According to Wright Management, 70 percent of engaged employees say they have a good understanding of how to meet customer needs, whereas only 17 percent of non-engaged employees say the same. One of the biggest reasons employees disengage is because they don’t understand the vision of the business, and they don’t see how they fit into the company’s success.
As you build your rock star team, here as a few critical points to keep in mind.
The Right People in the Right Seats. The key to building a successful team is to identify the right people and then put them in the right seats. Too often small businesses settle for a warm body instead of a top performer. It may take longer and cost more to find that top performer for your team, but it’s worth every penny. An “A” player can dramatically affect your company’s productivity and profitability. You also want someone who cares about helping your company, and sees its success as part of his or her own success. Weed out the wrong ones and hire the right one by creating interview questions that focus on values, not just skills and responsibilities. Skills can be taught, but you can’t change someone’s values.
Make Your Team Accountable. Every member of your team should be accountable for the overall results of your business. Two things that grate on my nerves are someone who adopts the attitude “It’s not my job” or who waits for direction before taking action. A small growth organization needs a team filled with people who understand their role and who understand how and why they are accountable for the company’s success. If your business loses a sale, it’s everyone’s responsibility, not just the sales representative. Help your team understand your business model and your vision. Share results openly with them. Allow them to be invested in your success.
Encourage Collaboration. A strong team is collaborative. Everyone works together to get the job done. So when you hire a team member, make sure they are a good fit with your company culture and committed to excellence. One misfit can destroy the collaborative nature of a team and minimize your ability to succeed.
Empower Your Team. Finally, even with a stable of “A” players, if you don’t give them the power to make things happen, you won’t achieve the success you desire. At Facebook, the mantra is “Done is better than perfect.” As I noted above, change is the one thing you can count on in business. If you micromanage your team or project an attitude of “it’s my way or the highway,” you’ll minimize the results your team can produce. “The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of the people in his organization will blow the competition away,” Harvard Business Review.
With the right people on your team, your company can grow from ordinary to extraordinary.
This article was originally published by Susan Solovic
Published: March 11, 2014

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Susan Solovic

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com and USA Today bestselling author, and attorney. She was the CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com—small business television—a company she grew from its infancy to a million dollar plus entity. She appears regularly as a featured expert on Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and can be seen currently as a small business expert on the AT&T Networking Exchange website. Susan is a member of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College and the Advisory Boards for the John Cook School of Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University as well as the Fishman School of Entrepreneurship at Columbia College. 

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