Start with yourself
The first step towards a successful team is you yourself. You have to clearly understand your strengths and weaknesses and take these in consideration to prevent potential mistakes in your work. A team is a way to amplify your best qualities and fill the gaps in some fields.
So, this is what you have to do first:
A SWOT analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. Write down your 10 best professional qualities you’re proud of, then write 10 more, this time focusing on the personal skills that help you in your work. After that, identify 10 professional and personal aspects you’re lagging behind in.
Your opportunities. Based on the above-mentioned characteristics, identify 10 areas which you have to work on boosting your skills in – in other words, write down the components of your area of personal and professional growth.
Professional threats. Identify what you’re apprehensive about and what potential problems of yours and your team you’re afraid of.
Once you have conducted this detailed review of your personal characteristics, you can easily pinpoint the areas you should personally develop in, as well as those of your weak points you’d better compensate for with experienced team members.
Based on this conclusion, you have to develop a similar strategy for your future employees:
Write down the personal qualities you deem unacceptable, for example bad habits or habitual tardiness.
Identify the personal qualities for which you’ll value an employee even more.
Finally, put down the key competencies (knowledge, abilities, skills) of an employee that you think will come in handy for solving day-to-day professional tasks.
A SWOT analysis isn’t the ultimate template you’ll be testing people against, rather, it’s a useful guideline and a reminder of what kind of team you want to assemble and who you’ll be comfortable building your business with.
Busting common myths
Before you begin flicking through resumes and inviting people for interviews, you have to complete another stage of self-improvement – working through common myths. These will hamper your ability to choose the right candidates and cooperate with them effectively.
“Nobody can do it better than me.” This misconception is rooted in the fear to delegate, to entrust others with responsibilities and tasks – but you have to understand that in reality, you can’t do everything yourself, which means that you’ll have to learn to trust and delegate. At first, you may write instructions showing how you opt to solve this or that task and explaining why you prefer this or that system or approach. In general, though, you have to get to the root of that fear: imagine what would happen if your colleague made a mistake. Exaggerate the consequences to find out what exactly you’re afraid of in a given situation. Only after that you’ll be able to work through fear and ultimately eliminate it.
“No one is irreplaceable.” On the one hand, yes, but on the other – a specifically specialized employee that shares your company’s outlook and values is a rare and unquestionably valuable asset. The most important thing is to not to structure the entire system around one employee. There have been cases where a person endowed with this kind of influence tried to strong-arm the leadership, slowing down the work process.
“Everyone should do as I say.” Remember that in a good team, there is no “I” – there is a responsible and wise “we”. Make use of this bonus and consult the key players when making a decision. When your employees see their importance and contribution to the common cause, the entire company will grow.
“Friendship hinders work.” You may have heard that it’s better not to build a business with friends and loved ones, but there are many successful examples of such cooperation. If you trust the person – and trust is the most important aspect at the beginning of teamwork – feel free to get them on board. Just make sure to thrash out the details from the get-go: draw up a contract and allocate the shares even before you immerse yourselves in the process.
“Fear and sticks are the best management tools.” If you’re used to intimidating your employees, you have to understand that any result you get is short-term. Such methods won’t help you grow, your employees won’t share their ideas and be truly invested in your company’s welfare.
“Experienced specialists are better than inexperienced ones.” Obviously, experience is an advantage, but sometimes it’s easier to teach someone the knowledge they lack or work with a student than to try to cater to an experienced specialist with attitude. All the more so given that people who have worked at one place for a long time tend to be less flexible and aren’t open to new opportunities.
Let’s talk through the starting algorithm one more time: you identify the company’s mission, conduct a SWOT analysis of your personal and professional qualities and characteristics of your future team members, analyze your target niche, carry out customer profiling, calculate your break-even point, and make a detailed description of the features, benefits, and advantages of your product or service.
Why is it important to start with the company mission? Because it’s directly linked to the fact that you’re providing for not only your clients but also society at large, the rationale behind your work. All your employees have to have a clear understanding of the mission and associated values, and, of course, share them, too.
One of the following things to do is to analyze your market niche. You don’t need huge resources in order to test your product or service in a specific niche. It’s enough to make a project model, publish it on some open platform, and gather feedback. This will allow you to assess whether the audience is ready to buy your product or pay for your service.
When everything is ready for the big launch, start keeping a register. Let this be some sort of a plan for comparing your performance indicators: this will make it easier for you to identify your product’s growth areas and features that need to be improved on.
When starting work with a team, remember that every member of your team – from your deputy to office administrator – has to understand the company’s mission and realize their own importance.
What’s more, invest in your team’s development: invite coaches, offer courses and training if needed, and all this will lead to qualitative improvements in your results.
Remember: assembling a good team is a huge task, but team management requires an even bigger amount of effort. The team will grow and develop only if you manage to get the corporate system within it up and running. Growth and development have to build on transparent and attainable results of productive work by your colleagues, only then will they have a genuine motivation to work.