Monday, June 30, 2014

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team? Part 1 of a series…

A truly great team requires obsessively great hiring, a trusting, transparent Leader who strives to be a servant Leader, shared goals and values (best if developed by the team), a culture of ownership and responsibility, and a need for constant improvement.

I have been writing about hiring and training the best hourly team members, as well as how to change the team culture to enable the development of a truly great team on my blog for some time now.  It's been almost 100 posts in the making, and I imagine it can be daunting jumping into what is essentially a book on hiring and team development.

So... I thought we might shorten all of those posts into a much shorter series on hiring the best hourly team members; how and why to hire for Leadership qualities; honesty, trust and transparency as they relate to Leadership (servant Leadership in particular); developing team goals and values; developing/changing our team culture; and developing enough trust and ownership in that culture that will not only allow for constant improvement, but will demand it.

I've been hiring hourly team members, from entry level/no experience people to department Leaders and Store Team Leaders for 30 years now, and that is what I'm writing about.  When hiring executives, or other jobs where specific job skills, talents, and/or a specific educational background is needed, weed out the applicants without these mandatory requirements, and then follow the steps I outline below.  If you disagree, I'm sure you'll let me know

Hiring is arguably the most important thing we do.  You cannot have a great team without hiring great people.  If you don't have the team you want, the first thing you need to look at is your hiring.  In fact, if you don't have the team you want, and you have been doing the hiring, I'd suggest that you need to get someone who has a track record of hiring great people either take over your hiring, or retrain you on how to hire.  Yes it's hard to own up to that, and admit that we aren't good at hiring.  And... without great hiring we will never have that great team.

Too many of us have some notion that we cannot admit we are not that good at hiring… for some reason admitting that is a huge blow to our egos.  We are all very good at one or two things, OK at most things, and not so good at other things.  Build and play to your strengths, and find people who are very good at the jobs you are not so good at.  You can read my whole series about how to hire hourly team members for Leadership qualities starting here from earlier in this blog.  It will take some humility to fully accept that we need to unlearn our old ways of hiring in order to learn to hire for qualities.  And the payoff is simply amazing!

You will be hiring for attitude/qualities first, and any needed skills second (again, I'm talking about hiring hourly team members).  In fact, you should be hiring for every position based on Leadership qualities first, skills second.  If you are serious about developing a great team, you will need the best Leaders.  How many places have you worked where great Leaders are being developed?  Any?  So... you will have to grow your own, and hiring for Leadership qualities is the best way to start.  The hourly team members you are hiring today will be your Leadership team in the near future.

Your should read my post about Hiringfor what can't be trained, and in a nutshell... Think about the people who you would love to clone... they are probably really good at the skills of their job, and is that what makes them clone worthy?  Probably not... They are most likely clone worthy because of the qualities they possess... because of their attitude towards their work... that's what makes them great!  I can take the next person you see and train them how to do every task needed to run a grocery store (you can probably train the skills needed for your workplace), however I cannot train qualities.  We cannot train anyone to be self aware, to show self responsibility, to have courage, to extend trust, or to be honest... those cannot be trained, so we must hire for them, and I dare to say, at least for hourly team members, almost only for them!

The best way I have found to determine which people have the qualities we are looking for is through a long and friendly conversation, with some specific questions used to draw out our own make or break qualities. 

For instance, if your new hires will be dealing with your customers, it is imperative that their default level of customer service is at least as high as your expected level of service.  I have found it next to impossible to get people to consistently provide a higher level of customer service than they believe is the correct level, without constant supervision, and no one has the time for that.  So... we must hire people who already believe that our expected levels of service are the correct and only reasonable level of service.  Then, and only then, can we count on them to consistently deliver that level of service without any supervision.  I wrote a post specifically about hiring for customer service here.

Well, we knew this would be a series…  next time we’ll start to talk about just how we discover whether or not our applicant has been developing the qualities we’re looking for.

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