3 tips on how to build a team to dominate your market

Success is a team sport…

But just how do we go about selecting our team members?

In school it was easy. We all knew who were the best players so we’d start off with those strongest and work our way down.

John. Peter. Chris. Hmmm…Eddie. Err…Steve…and it goes on till you get down to the last few remaining people. A situation I’ve found myself in more than once.

I was slender…scratch that…skinny, so people often thought I wasn’t good at sports.

I admit I wasn’t one of the best in the class, but I could hold my own in basketball, soccer and softball most of the time.

Don’t we wish it was that easy when it comes to business?

In school, it’s about having fun. In business, when it boils down to it, results are the key.

We have to think about each person’s unique talents, their character, their attitude, their ability to take orders, and how well they fit the particular project.

It’s far from easy and we can’t just pick a new team tomorrow.

There’s training involved, egos, problems, disagreements and the list go on and on.

When I first came to Japan, I joined a small company on the rise.

At first there were just 4 of us. Two years later, it was up 14. Four years later, it was closer to 30.

During my time there I saw firsthand how NOT to build a team.

Everything was so discombobulated. People did their job, but that was about it.

Information was lacking. Confusion was common place any time we had to work together. Weekly meetings were a waste of time. The president believed in using fear and intimidation to get things done. You get the idea. And it’s quite possible that you’ve worked in such an environment.

The amazing thing was that despite all the problems, the company continued to grow.

But nothing lasts forever and in the recent downturn of the economy cracks are beginning to show. It’s still around, but it’s no longer growing. What I can say is that turnover is high and many of the better employees there all moved on.

Since leaving that company I’ve had the pleasure of working in three other businesses; one as a partnership, one as a consultant and another as an owner.

I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t and came up with 3 tips on how to build a strong team to help dominate your market.

  1. Attitude
  2. Training
  3. Takes notes

Simple, right? I’ve found that too many people complicate the interview process and end up wasting way too much time. Time is of the essence in a world that moves at the speed of the Internet.

Let’s start with attitude. Most people select on aptitude, a person’s ability to do a job, but in an interview, there’s not enough time to test people’s true skills. What I’ve found though is that people with aptitude, but a lousy attitude will do one of 3 things:

  • Quit
  • Cause problems
  • Complain

None of them you want in building your team. So how can you test a person’s attitude? One question I came across in a book recently was clever, “If I were to ask your previous employer (or friend) what would they say about you?” The threat is implied…that the interviewer may call the previous employer. This forces people to choose their words carefully. It’s also a question I have never heard before, so it will catch many people off guard.

Another thing you can do is to get them talking about their private lives “after” the interview. You’d be surprised how often people open up outside the interview room.

The last thing is observation. Punctuality is simple enough. Keeping them waiting and watching their reaction is another.

Just remember that skills can be taught, but attitude is who we are, and often the last thing to change.

Second is training. You need learners in your organization. The world is constantly changing so businesses must change with the times. As such your team must change. And more importantly, they must be willing to change. That’s where education comes in.

Ask them to come in for free training on their day off and see their reaction. What about a late night study session? People who want to succeed should have no trouble making such trainings. Those who are there for the short term will find every excuse available not to make it. I also have found that it is critical to ask them to come in for about a week, unpaid to learn the ropes.

Training takes time and energy, yours and theirs. You don’t want to invest too much of yours in people who won’t be around long or who have managed to trick the interviewers.

You might not be able to weed out all the undesirable candidates, but you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by adopting this simple principle.

Moreover, if future training is needed then it must be mandatory and put in the contract. Failure to do so and you’ll run into trouble later on.

Finally the last tip on selecting a winning team is to select those who take notes.

You’d be amazed at how many people don’t keep track of what needs to be done. Most people rely on their memory which far less reliable than a pen and a piece of paper. Today we have smartphones which allow us to record important information and keep notes and add appointments.

Anyone who whips out their notepad or smartphone in order to jot things done during the interview process has already earned major brownie points because so few people do it.

My best guess, 1%. 99% couldn’t be bothered. I don’t blame those who don’t but those that do are like shining stars.

So there you have it, three simple tips.

Obviously, these are simplistic and you’ll have to apply them to your interview process, but I assure you that they will save you a whole lot of time and energy.

Do you have any secrets? Drop me a line if you do.

Adrian Shepherd

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