Building a team of professionals can be one of the greatest joys, points of relief, and opportunities to grow your business in different ways. Or it can be one of the greatest headaches an entrepreneur can face.
Interviewing, hiring, managing, leading, and letting team members go requires a dedication to your mission and an understanding of who you are and what you need.
Here are four areas you’ll need to understand as you consider building your team…
1. The Difference Between Contractors and Employees
While I have had employees in the past, being an employer is not something that gets me excited and I realized after attempting that role for the last time, that I’m neither cut out for it, nor do I want to do it. What’s better? I don’t have to – and you might not either.
So, what's the difference? In a nutshell...
Employees are reliant on you. They rely on you for tasks, training, workspace, equipment, paychecks, a to-do list, and overall management. You have more control over how they do the job and will train them on your processes and systems. You might pay them less hourly, and they are at your store/office when you need/want them there, but you pay them even if they’re not producing a ROI.
Contractors are reliant on themselves. They are in business for themselves, they love their craft, they need clients just like you do, and they must deliver services or products in order to get paid. You have less say over how they do what they do and you might pay them more for their expertise, but they are project based (usually).
Contractors must prove their ability and interest in working with me and for my clients. They must prove their responsibility and when they do and I hire them I become their client, so how they offer their services will tell me a lot about whether I want to work with them.
Contractors also offer me the chance to test out their work on a Propel project first, and learn about their business methods, communication style, and dedication to delivering quality services.
Although the first step is getting to know them and their personality to see if we connect in a respectful and mutually appreciative way, understanding their skill level and technical abilities is where the rubber meets the road. If the first project just doesn’t flow and they can’t deliver what they say they can, it’s usually easy to determine that they aren’t a good fit.
Building a team that you can trust always takes time and requires you to give others’ the benefit of the doubt, while also providing them a platform to see them shine in their area of passion. When they begin rising to the challenge and you recognize them and give them more responsibility, that’s when trust is forged between both parties and incredible partnerships and teams begin to develop.
2. Good Leadership Isn’t Mandatory, but It Helps
I’ve mentioned before that the team you bring in to support the work you do is a reflection of you and the professional you are. But they are also a direct reflection and result of how you lead.
Not all business owners are leaders, I know. Not everyone has to be. But those who need to develop a team around them will end up leading that team in one way or another.
I’ve observed leaders my whole life and I’ve watched good leaders operate in wisdom, strength, and expertise, while also being generous, patient, kind, and humble.
Good leaders aren’t afraid to teach, correct, and guide with gentle strength, but they are also willing to accept feedback and collaborate on ideas. Healthy individuals don’t play games or manipulate trying to assert whatever power they think they have, but rather they are slow to speak and they seek to understand the others’ perspective before making assumptions.
I’ve noticed that people will follow a leader who communicates well and establishes strong, trustworthy and honoring relationships. They use encouraging words and ask questions, choosing to learn from those around them with humility. They are good examples and people want to follow them, be around them, and learn from them.
They also know when to draw a line and deliver honest communication so that any opportunity for toxicity to enter the company or relationship is squelched before it takes root.
Ultimately, how you lead will determine the strength of your team, so learning to lead well will encourage loyalty, trust, and healthy relationships.
3. When to Let Team Members Move On
When it is all said and done, working with a professional never has to be permanent, whether employed or contracted. We can begin a relationship in faith, and with hope and good intentions, but it is up to both people to recognize if and when it isn’t working. It doesn’t do anyone any good to try to force a relationship or partnership that doesn’t honor or respect both parties.
I have had my fair share of disappointments over my first ten years in business. Between employees, contractors, strategic partners, and even associates I thought I could depend on, one thing has proven true and it is sad to say, but not everyone can be trusted with your business.
While we know that there are millions of ways to see, approach, believe in, or do business, the wrong team member can sour the bunch or even take your company down with them. At the first sign of disrespect or trouble, it’s best to address the issue and decide immediately whether to continue working on and strengthening the relationship, or if it is fundamental and simply put, just best to part ways.
Personally, I believe in extending trust to professionals in small bites. If they know their trade and handle their role responsibly, while also upholding the highest standards in every aspect of the work they do, then what we accomplish together will shine.
If it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t feel honoring, or if the work falls flat more than once, it could be a sign that they just aren’t a good match for what you’re geared to deliver. In those cases, I’d encourage you not to let sympathy or emotions allow you to continue a relationship that just isn’t working. Rip off the band aid, cut bait and free yourself from any false sense of responsibility you may feel to make them better at what they do. That is their responsibility, not yours.
4. Know what you need
Propel would not be what it is without the team members I have and I am so grateful for all of the lessons I’ve learned, both positive and difficult, over the years. Through them I have learned how to identify character qualities and establish criteria for what I’m looking for in a team partnerships.
For those like me who hire experts in their fields or who have a supporting crew to help them, we cannot afford to not know our system, our process, and what we need. We must understand our services inside and out and be able to identify areas we don’t personally need to be managing so that we can begin delegating.
It’s also important to know what our standards are because we will be required to constantly see and uphold them. Because of the high standards I personally hold for myself and those around me, I choose to only work with professionals who share the values that are important to me. That decision provides boundaries and allows me to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to professionals who cross my path looking for work.
Whether you just need relief from wearing all the hats, or you desire breathing room to dream and grow and build your business, I encourage you to choose a team that:
- respects you and the work you do
- is skilled, responsible, and eager
- believes in and desires to support your mission
- will work with you to deliver excellent service, while collaborating and helping you learn and grow
And good luck to you, 😉
Related Articles & Resources:
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