For many entrepreneurs, the early days of their business are a solitary undertaking. During this time, the responsibility of getting their ideas off the ground and launching a start-up lies solely with them. But there comes a moment for every entrepreneur when they have to entrust some of this responsibility to others, and build the best team for their business – and while this is often an exciting time of development and growth, it can also be a daunting task.
Whether you are just about to take on your first employee or are expanding your core team, deftly navigating this moment of transition will be a key factor in the future success of your enterprise. So how do you go about forming a team with complementary skills, a great work ethic and a shared vision?
The anatomy of a successful team
Whether it’s the global assortment of astronomers who captured an image of a black hole after a years-long effort, or the near-magical mix of talent that won Manchester United the treble in 1999, great teams have a variety of factors in common. As an entrepreneur, keeping these factors in mind is vital in order to build the best team possible, while also avoiding expensive mistakes such as internal conflict, high staff turnover or underperformance.
- Ensuring your team has aligned values
It would be unrealistic (and undesirable) to form a team of extremely similar personality types, but while people’s preferences and priorities may vary, it is advisable to ensure that they all have aligned values.
For example, it’s possible to imagine how a team may be derailed if their values are ones of cooperation and mutual support, and someone joins them who does not share these values. If they instead believe in competitiveness and individual achievement, they could disrupt the working practices of the group – despite the fact that, in some organisations, their values would align perfectly well with their colleagues and the company ethos.
Another danger for any group of people is the potential for conflict, should there be a personality clash or breakdown of communication. Psychometric testing can help you as an employer to get a far more comprehensive picture of potential candidates – and whether they will fit well into your business – than simply trusting your intuition during the interview process.
Data suggests that more than 75% of The Times ‘Best Companies to Work For’ and 80% of Fortune 500 firms use psychometric testing, with the process bringing a myriad of benefits to businesses. When forming your team, it can help you define the skills and personality types ideal for your company, easily filter candidates and bring objectivity to the interview process.
Removing any inherent biases you may have (for example, a preference for extroverts) helps you to create a balanced and harmonious workplace, and a successful team. As Fiona Knight, (senior leadership specialist from Russell Reynolds’ leadership assessment and succession practice) says: “We are in the business of judging people, so using data is one way of strengthening the objectivity of that judgement.”
- Combining skills and talent
It may appear counterintuitive, but there’s more to a great team then simply throwing together the people with the most glittering CVs. Talent obviously goes a long way, but sheer skill is far from the only consideration.
When you are putting a team together, it’s important to balance the strengths of your employees to ensure they complement each other. A team of people who can all come up with great ideas won’t bring any of them to fruition if there’s no one there to thrash out the details. Even if everyone’s job description is broadly similar, having a team that boasts a variety of skills can improve their output while also creating an environment where they won’t step on each other’s toes.
From this perspective, giving a certain amount of autonomy and letting your employees carve out their own place in the business is an advisable course of action. Letting every employee become an expert in their own particular part of your company reduces envy between team members, and it also means that everyone feels valued for their own particular contribution.
The founder of IdealLab and speaker for the Stanford Technology Venture Program Bill Gross determined four distinct personality types which combine to create the ideal management team – the combination of which should help to deliver a business idea to success. These personality types are:
Entrepreneur – who supplies the company’s vision.
Producer – the person who can manage the production, sales and “deliverables” side of the business.
Administrator – the organisational mind which can implement processes and procedures.
Integrator – a “people person” who can unite and smooth over any issues that arise.
Of course, this is painting in very broad strokes, but you may want to outline a similar list that you can bear in mind during the recruitment process. By assessing the personality types of your current employees and the skills which are currently missing from your business, you can make sure you hire not only the right person for the job, but the right person for your team.
- Management and leadership
According to the Investors in People’s annual Job Exodus survey, poor management was the leading cause of employee dissatisfaction in 2018. Effective leadership is a vital part of any team, and the impact of getting this wrong can be profound – resulting in demotivation and high staff turnover. With the average cost of turnover per employee earning £25,000 a year or more reaching £30,614 (according to research by Oxford Economics and Unum), this is an extremely unwelcome prospect.
You are ultimately responsible for leading your team towards startup success, and the creation of a shared goal can be hugely valuable to team psychology. Share your aspirations with your employees and demonstrate, through the celebration of every success, how you perceive them as an integral part of that vision.
Good leadership also demands clarity. If the goalposts are constantly moving, and you don’t have a clear idea of what needs to be achieved in any given day, your team will become confused and burnt out. Clearly define your objectives and give them the tools to achieve them. People can’t give their best if they are constantly firefighting either, so process and procedure is important in creating a framework that allows tasks to be completed efficiently.
Not overburdening staff with heavy workloads, trusting them to do their job without watching over their shoulder and keeping a cool head even under pressure is all crucial to helping your team thrive. Leadership is often a learning process but your team will extend a lot of goodwill towards you, and help you define your own role, if you exhibit respect and appreciation for their efforts.
Creating your very own A-Team isn’t something that’s likely to happen through sheer good fortune, but with a few common-sense considerations and helpful recruitment processes, it’s far from impossible. By using the guidance above you can find the team which will take your business – and their own careers – to a place of growth, innovation and success.
This post was written by Pam Loch, Managing Director of Loch Associates Group in Tunbridge Wells, Brighton and London – employment specialists working across various disciplines including employment law, HR consultancy and health and wellbeing.