The more I reflect on what allows my clients to really fly, the more I come back to just one thing: people. If you want to build a great business then you have to have the right team in place.
Your version of success might be to work 9 to 5, four days per week and earn a reasonable income (whatever that is for you). However, even in a lifestyle business you have to be very organised. In fact, maybe even more so than someone trying to build an empire. This means to achieve your aims you will have to have a great team around you.
The same applies if you have larger commercial ambition. You will need to build a team supporting you and the other key people in the organisation. If any one of those team members can’t perform their role to the standards you require, there will be flow on effects around the company, many of which eventually end up back at your desk to be resolved.
So hiring right matters.
Where can we learn from other businesses that also face this hiring challenge? In modern business, hyper-growth tech companies provide a good starting point. They are looking for talent, and lots of it, quickly. How do they do it?
Jeff Holden, currently Chief Product Officer at Uber, has held roles with three fast-growing companies; Amazon, Groupon and Uber. In a conversation with Peter Diamandis (founder of the X-Prize), he described four key lessons for hiring the best people:
1. A-players Hire A-players and B-players Hire C-players The key point here is that you have to be ruthless in hiring the best people you can possibly find. Don’t lower your standards.
As Peter Diamandis commented, “If you lower the bar on the quality of people you let in, they will have a lower bar for the quality of people they hire. The spiral will continue to cascade downward until you’re left with, well… a mediocre company.”
2. Always Gauge the Passion and Interest of a Candidate Clearly, it’s important that team members are enthused about working in your organisation.
There is a simple way to do this, Jeff explains, simply ask them “Why do you want to work for this company?”
“It’s unbelievable how many people have a terrible answer to that question,” Jeff said, “The generic answer is, ‘Well, you guys are doing really well…’.”
The aim is to find people and answers that fit with your core values.
3. Be an Owner, Not a Renter – Hire Patriots, Not Mercenaries Jeff has a quote that he referenced: “Wars are won by patriots, not mercenaries.”
You’re looking for people that buy into what you are doing for clients and what you are trying to build as a business, not people who were secured based on the highest offer. People who are just in it for the money can be tempted to leave for a better offer, or just don’t put it all-in when the going gets tough. Stay away from them.
4. Make sure you’re working with people that ‘Make You Feel Dumb’ Peter says, “Make sure you are working with bright, intelligent people who are constantly pushing you to learn.”
Not only can smart people do the role you need them to do, but they can help you to be better. This is the type of inspiring challenge that can see you re-discover your enthusiasm for your own role, your business and your life. Don’t underestimate it.
I know a lot of firms that have had success in hiring young graduates. They keep sharing with me how scary smart these folks are, and you can hear the excitement in the owner’s voice as they do so.
Some pitfalls to avoid when hiring your team
There are a few mistakes I see firms making when it comes to good hiring practices. Do any of these apply to you?
a.) They are not clear on the the specific role they are trying to fill.
Often this is because they are not thinking narrowly enough. If you need an administrator, get specific about what type of admin tasks they are are going to perform. Is it complex pension work, investment work (with which Wrap platforms?), trust work, wills, life insurance work etc.
What specific job do you need doing? Don’t think “I’ll get an administrator who can do some paraplanning work and maybe handle reception as well, whilst making coffee and occasionally vacuuming the office.”
b.) They don’t write a great job description.
They don’t do this because they haven’t done the think work in the point above. If you don’t know exactly what you are after it’s impossible to write a concise and specific job spec, which makes it almost impossible to end up with the right A-player on your team.
c.) They don’t hire with their core values at the forefront of their mind.
Someone with the wrong values just won’t work, no matter how skilled they are. What are your core values? Usually they’ve been captured in your business plan. Make sure you are interviewing with these in mind.
d.) They shortcut their own (often limited) recruitment process in a rush to fill a role.
Don’t do it. Create a robust process and then follow it to the letter. If you need to wait six or nine months to get the right person, my advice is to wait.
The right person in the right role is worth 200% – 300% more to you than an ok person in the role. Wait to get the right team member and watch your productivity and your quality of life go through the roof when you do.
Anyone who has hired poorly in the past will attest to the wisdom of this approach.
e.) They think they can’t find the quality of people they need in their area.
I know in some parts of the country recruitment can feel challenging. However, I hear this complaint from people across the UK. If they are outside of a big city they tell me there’s no one who is any good locally, and if they are in a big city they say that other bigger firms take all the talent.
My advice is get better at finding the people you need. This is a skill just like anything else. Look wider or non-traditionally if you need to. Hire a virtual team member if that allows you access to someone with the skills you need. There are amazing people lurking in the online world that you can often rent by the hour.
At FP Advance our whole team is virtual. We spend time on helping our team understand our mission and our business (just like you do with in-house employees) and we believe this helps make them patriots. Right now we have the best team in place that we’ve ever had.
Get some help if you need to
If recruiting and team building is not your natural skill, then the first person you need to find and hire is a great HR resource. You can try someone in your local area if that feels right, or you can hire a virtual HR consultant like we do.
They’ll add loads of value and help you assemble and maintain the perfect team.
Take a look at the lessons above and see if you can apply them to your business. I know it will make a massive difference.
Assembling the right team is the number one issue for all businesses, large or small.