Building a leadership team is a crucial time in the growth of your business. Whether it’s the first hire or fourth for your leadership team, it requires you to clarify your needs, build a deliberate process, and create a transition plan for your new hire. The adage hire slow, fire fast exists for a reason. As much as you want to fill the need you identified, putting the wrong person in place will cost you far more in time, effort, and money than waiting a few weeks to get it right.
Clarify Your Needs When Building a Leadership Team
Business owners tend to start surrounded by helpers, those who get the job done, and work under the owner’s direction. Usually, around employee 15, it gets much more challenging to lead a team of helpers doing a diverse set of tasks. The owner finds themselves slowing down progress as every decision goes through them, and they have less and less time to make so many decisions. At this point, it is clear that you need help leading the team. But where to start? You do have a few options.
The first option is to look at where most of the work that requires regular intervention is done. That need may reside in the customer delivery or service area. Alternatively, it could be where most of the owner’s time is required and need to be free from that work to focus on other business areas. This could be a function like HR or finance. Bringing someone in at the leadership level to manage critical tasks or lead people is an excellent place to start.
A second option is to offset weakness in the owner. Perhaps the owner struggles with Sales or leading employees. It could also be an area like finance. Bringing in someone to lead those efforts for them can improve performance and efficiency.
A final option to consider is looking at where the core energies are of the business owner. I like to use the Core Value Index to ascertain which of their core energies (Merchant, Innovator, Banker, and Builder) are vital. As part of the hiring process, we can assess applicants’ core energies for both job fit and how much they can complement the owner’s strengths. (You can take the Core Values Index free today!)
Build a Deliberate Process
Part of the “hire slow” concept is to get everything you need in place before you start hiring. And the first thing you need is a job description. The job description isn’t a 5-page document. What it does require is clarity. Much like I teach with the One Page Business Plan, I recommend getting the full description on one page. What is your Vision for the position (what do you expect, and what will it look like)? What is the position’s Mission (why does it exist)? What are your Objectives for the role (what will you measure that is graphable)? Which Strategies will the successful candidate follow (how will the job be done)? Finally, what are their Action Plans (what will they build, what are the project priorities)? Getting clarity will help the business owner envision what they want and help prospects understand the role.
Once you have written the description and posted it, you will start seeing applications. Now it’s time to build your filtering mechanisms and create your interview process. Create a checklist. What are the minimum requirements you are looking for in the role? What work experience do you care about? What educational requirements exist?
I also recommend a consistent set of interview questions you have for every candidate so you can build up a comparison. Are there specific scenarios you’d like them to talk about? Certain situations you want to gauge their experience in handling? What do you want to know about their work history? Building up the list of questions will take some time, but you will want to have 5-7 core questions to form the interview basis and then follow up on their answers.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, I strongly recommend the use of an assessment tool. I don’t like them used as a first pass, in our out, test. If they have passed you other screens, an assessment serves as a useful tool to guide your questions in a second interview. Understanding who the applicant is will tell you much about what you can expect from them as an employee. Building your leadership team is a delicate balance of personalities and tendencies. An assessment can be incredibly valuable in balancing them out.
Have a Transition Plan
Once you have completed the interview process and made your hire, the final step in building your leadership team is successfully transitioning them into your organization.
The first step is your onboarding plan. At one level, this is as simple as the paperwork you’re going to have the hire complete for you to get into the system. At a deeper level, it is the first step to welcoming them into your company. How will you introduce them? Whom will they meet with early on? Do they need to meet the team? Your customers? Other stakeholders? Make sure you have a place secured for them if they will be in your office. If they’re working remotely, be sure they have everything they need on day one.
Next is integration. The One Page job description is the starting point for this. Based on that plan, where do you need them to start working? Culturally, what experiences do you want them to have? The tasks they perform upfront should start building them into the company. You will want to work closely with them to understand how you want decisions made. And take the time for their feedback to see what you might be missing. This back and forth will build over time until you are ready for the final step, delegation.
During integration, your goal is for your leadership team’s new member to understand how you want decisions made and how you want priorities set. They must understand all of these aspects as well as your overall culture. Why? Because once they know how to work for you, you can begin to delegate. Perhaps early on, you do a check-in daily, then extend that to weekly. Over time, you will be able to comfortably delegate all tasks to them, confident they will execute them correctly.
Building a leadership team for your business is no small task. If you approach it without forethought, it will blow up in your face, and you’ll resist bringing in the people you need to help you grow. So long as you are deep in the day-to-day of your business, you will have less time to look at your business’s future. So be thorough thinking through what you want and get clear on your needs. Build a deliberate process of how you will hire. Once you have your ideal candidate hired, have a transition plan in place to guarantee their success.
Do you need to start building out a leadership team? Set up a free, no sale consultation to start thinking it through.