Entrepreneurs are a funny sort. Driven, creative, multi-taskers, risk takers, make-it-happen perfectionists, customers love us… we can do it all, and would like nothing more than an organization filled with people just like us.
Yet, savvy business owners realize that drivers need navigators, creative people need logic, multi-taskers need focus, perfectionists need to relax, and, truth be told, not all customers love them. Indeed, there is an art and a science to the selection people, skills, and talents one starts to bring into their organization.
Group versus Team
Small business owners who start adding staff should think about whether or not they’re adding workers to their ‘group,’ or building a ‘team.’ Is the goal to get more people who can count and load more widgets into trucks each week? Adding more and more people to an organization for the purpose of accomplishing more tasks is, at one level, certainly a reasonable business necessity. Hiring becomes a commodity exercise, seeking skilled, energetic and committed people who will accomplish these tasks… just the way the owner wants it done.
More often, however, the real need is to build a team of people who will develop and implement a better, more efficient and effective way to handle ‘widget processing’ on an ongoing basis. In other words, what many business owners really need is the ability to delegate accountabilities, not just tasks. In this case, real leaders know and appreciate the value in developing a ‘team,’ and not just randomly adding workers to their ‘group.’ As a business grows, so grows the multitude and magnitude of tasks, problems, and minutia needing decisions and attention. An owner who hasn’t thought through hiring and developing a complementary ‘team’ to handle some of these things soon finds out there are just not enough hours in the day, or days in the week.
A wise manager once said ‘If both of us always agree on things… then one of us doesn’t need to be here.’ Successful leaders know that group performance is enhanced when their team achieves that optimal balance of individual knowledge, competencies and perspectives. Exceptional team performance, team synergy, is achieved when group performance exceeds the collective sum of individual skills and capabilities.
Essential to team effectiveness is understanding the concept of ‘diversity.’ Often overlooked is the point that diversity is not as much about a reactive tolerance of individual differences as it is the proactive identification and selection of differences strategically brought into an organization.
Effective leaders realize that team synergy can only be achieved through careful and thoughtful identification of different and varied skills and competencies… we’ll call them ‘gifts’… that are needed on the team. When the understanding of the ‘gifts’ needed on the team drives the interview and selection process, true ‘diversity,’ and the process of proactive team building is underway.
The essentials of effective team building start with the identification of those skills, competencies, knowledge and perspectives needed for each role in the organization.
This is the ‘science’ part of hiring. Consider some examples:
- detail orientation, and a temperament that thrives on accuracy and timeliness
- technical competency and expertise in specific subject matters
- multi-tasking, and the ability to handle multiple functions and priorities
- flexibility, and the temperament to thrive in loosely structured situations typical and characteristic of small businesses
- problem solving and analysis, and the ability to make decisions on data, not emotion
- empathy, and the patience and passion to understand and resolve customer needs and problems
- decision making, and the ability to take charge
- computer knowledge, and the ability to find efficiency with the use of technology
Each of us brings varied levels of knowledge, personal skills, traits, and temperaments into our work teams. Critical to the selection and hiring process is the ability to match the needs of the team, each role on the team, with the ‘gifts’ each new hire brings to the organization. Consider when and how often a team needs someone blessed with the following:
- Drivers and decision makers. People who take charge, take risks, take action and set direction.
- Creative and expressive. Spirited and innovative people who bring new ideas, high energy and high concern for varied relationships both internally and externally.
- Amiable and caring. Helpful and caring staff who enjoy harmony, bring passion, patience, and high degree of service orientation to the organization
- Analytical and logical. People who reel in overzealous or emotional decision makers, and ensure accuracy, timeliness and logic to critical decisions and processes.
Hiring should be more science than art. The challenge for small business owners is to ensure clarity and objectivity about what the business needs from each new hire, and not be influenced by the temptation to bring people on board because an emotional decision someone is the ‘right type.’ With a little open-mindedness, planning, and patience in the hiring process, the small business owner will be amazed at from where and in whom some of these ‘gifts’ can be found, and how effective their team can become.
Vive le difference!
Michael Tracy is the owner and Managing Principal of OMNI Human Resource Management. OMNI is a human resources outsourcing, consulting and search firm located in Overland Park.