There’s no I in ‘team’
No one achieves anything in this life on their own. We’re social animals built for co-operation. So it’s no surprise that if you want to achieve your business goals, and have fun along the way, you’re going to have to assemble a great team.
I know you know this, but let me get into the nitty gritty of why this is so important.
When I think about the types of people I need on my team I think of this simple story:
The Parable of the Three Children
A couple want to find jobs for their children, so they contact a friend who runs a business in the city. The friend kindly offers them each a job.
Six months later the parents are speaking to the three children and find out they are all on different pay packets. They call their friend to find out why. The friend says, “Why don’t you come and see for yourself?”
They visit the friends business and observe the three kids at work.
The short version is that they see that:
The first child doesn’t do what they’re told – they’re on the lowest pay packet
The second child only does what they are told – they’re on the middle pay packet
The third child doesn’t need to be told – they get paid the big money
Moral: You need people on your team that don’t need to be told, because they are experts in their role.
I love this story because it brings that principle home so clearly.
Are all of your team so good that they don’t need to be told?
The Training Myth
If you’re GE or Aviva, you can afford to spend a lot of time and effort on training people. If you’re a small business, you probably can’t.
Most small businesses I know pay lip service to training and development, but there’s no time and no budget. If I’m being totally blunt, there’s no real commitment to it.
This is not a criticism, it’s just how it is for most small businesses. Accepting it as a fact can really help you think positively about your approach to recruitment.
Your most important hires have to arrive and hit the ground running from minute one. When you pass work to them, they not only do what you ask, but they do two or three extra things because they know their onions. That’s the standard.
These types of team members leverage your time exponentially.
If you have team members who can’t, or won’t do what they’re told, or team members who only do what they’re told, then work is going to continually bounce back to your desk. That’s not leveraging your time, that’s creating even more work for you.
What Are You Looking For?
In my opinion the people on your team have to posses the following characteristics:
Excellent skill levels
Ability and desire to learn new skills
Passion for their work
Initiative and self-motivation
People with these characteristics will be a joy to work with, and you’ll be able to go out and conquer the world.
Business is a dynamic and ever-changing environment. Motivated people who are eager to continue learning will adapt best as things grow and change.
But Finding Good People is Hard
I can feel you throwing daggers at me right now. “I know all of this, Einstein”, I can hear you saying, “but it’s really difficult to find people like that where I’m based.”
I know it is.
I hear this from people in every single part of the country. Yes, even in London.
Anyone not in London believes that all the best talent is based there. Maybe it’s even true.
But so are all the best paying employers. Some of these companies have their own supermarket in their foyer so it’s easy for the staff to get the shopping done in their lunch break. Or they’ve got subsidised or free gym memberships, Herman Miller ergonomic chairs at every desk, and all the latest technology.
Small firms in London face exactly the same challenges as those dotted around the UK.
It’s tough to secure talent wherever you are.
So what can you do?
There’s no easy fix, but here are a few ideas to get your thinking straight:
1. Be prepared to pay for talent: If I think about hiring a fantastic administrator versus an average one, we might be talking a difference of £4,000 – £6,000 p.a. An average one might cost £22,000 and a great one might be £28,000. Which one would you rather have?
The same goes for Paraplanners too (if you can find one that is).
2. Play to your strengths: Ok, so you don’t have a Tesco or a Sainsbury’s in your foyer, and the office chairs are a little more bog standard.
What do you have?
If you’re a good-quality Financial Planning firm you have a client-focused ethos. Wow. That’s a bit different.
What you’ll find is that talented people have options, and some of them would much rather work with a firm that makes an obvious impact on the lives of its clients. Most staff like to feel good about the work that they do.
If I’m a talented individual I might know I could earn more money working for a big tobacco company, or a bank. However, would that mesh nicely with my core values? Maybe not.
You have something really cool to offer these types of people. So be sure to tell them about the great work that you do.
3. Consider outsourced talent: It might be that for some roles you can look outside the normal channels and consider an outsourced contractor. If you look online you’ll be amazed what you can find people to do for you.
At FP Advance, our staff is global:
Powerpoint slides are prepared by Rof who is based in Indonesia
Graphic design work is done by Dave in Hereford
Bookkeeping is done my Emma in Glasgow
Copywriting is done by Laura in New York
Social Media is done by Lauren in London
Virtual Assistant (VA) services are provided by Emma in Poole (and sometimes Barbados…and sometimes the French Alps…)
HR services are delivered by Rosemary in Bournemouth
4. Make yourself attractive: Is your business an attractive place to work? Do you show respect to the team that support you? I know sometimes in smaller firms this can slip a bit, and it’s not because small business owners are nasty. It can simply be a time issue.
So consider getting an HR person who can support you or hold you accountable in providing a supportive environment for your team. It can be as simple as saying thank you when good work is done, or sending someone a bottle of wine or a pair of cinema tickets in recognition of their efforts.
What’s the Payoff?
I know there’s some work in all of this, but there’s a heck of a lot more work in not addressing this important issue – getting the right team on board supporting you.
As Karie Willyerd noted in her Harvard Business Review article, What High Performers Want At Work:
“A high performer can deliver 400% more productivity than the average performer.”
That’s a massive difference between just ok and great. Just think of the difference it could make to your life and the lives of your other team members and clients.