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How to Build a Dream Team You Love

February 13, 2019 by Kurt Wilkin

During a recent visit with uber-successful CEO Joel Trammell (TheAmericanCEO.com), I was reminded of a key CEO responsibility…one of your most important jobs: planning for the future.

Joel made a comment that “most roles within an organization are based on the present (and judged on the past), but the CEO’s job is to focus 80% of his or her time on the future.”

Think about that for a second – If you’re spending most of your time driving today’s sales or putting out fires and dealing with the “tyranny of the urgent,” then you don’t have time to see into the future and strategically guide your company towards the Promised Land.

The good news is that most of us running successful high-growth companies at least understand the concept of planning, even if we don’t enjoy doing it. Ideally, we’re conducting annual strategic planning sessions and usually we’ll have an exec charged with leading our financial planning and forecasting efforts. Sometimes we will even have a product leader who is planning the next iteration of our disruptive product or service. But we RARELY see companies of any kind taking a step back and aligning their talent with their business strategy.

The CEOs who take their business to the proverbial next level realize that “who got us here won’t take us there.” They know that talent can and does make a difference. The next part is hard for me to write, as an entrepreneur who loves everyone. But the reality is, that if you want to fall in love with your team again, you’re probably going to have to make some difficult decisions. Some members of your team, including some long-time members, may have to go. They say “love hurts” and they’re not wrong!

Some members of your team, including some long-time members, may have to go. They say “love hurts” and they’re not wrong!

If you’re growing rapidly, it’s okay to have one or two people on your leadership team who are growing a company for the first time. They are loyal and eager but inexperienced and learning on the job. But if everyone on your leadership team is growing a company for the first time, it will be impossible to scale your company quickly. You and your team are going to learn a lot of lessons the HARD WAY!  Smart CEOs know that the magic bullet for growth is talent, getting the right people in the right roles at the right time can amplify growth like nothing else.

Okay – that’s interesting you say, but “how do I build a talent strategy? I want to fall in love with my team again!” Following are five important points that should get you started thinking:

(1) First, it starts with dedicating focused time and energy to the concept of talent planning. Carve out ample time with key members of your team and/or advisors, or even hire a facilitator. Please don’t include your entire leadership team because, if you’re like most high-growth CEOs, you’ve got at least one person who doesn’t belong there, usually because they’ve received battlefield promotions and are now walking billboards for the dreaded Peter Principle.

(2) Second, leveraging your strategic planning, ensure everyone knows where you’re going as an organization and how you’re going to get there. What key initiatives are you going to tackle, both short-term (12 to 18 months) and longer term (we suggest 3 to 5 years)?  Coming back to talent, ask the question “what does the organization look like in 3 to 5 years in order to achieve those objectives?”

(3) Now, honestly appraise where you are today. What does your current org chart look like? If you’re being honest, do the leaders in your key functional areas have the ability to successfully drive their part of the organization from current to future state? One of my favorite Jim Collins questions is: “If you were hiring all over again, given all you know about this person and where the organization is going, would you enthusiastically re-hire them for the same job?”

Time and time again we’ve seen light bulbs go off with clients. Maybe they’ve identified someone causing bottlenecks. Perhaps it has become painfully obvious that, while their CFO is a solid accountant, they are a bad leader. Or they may now realize why they have struggled with their VP of Sales, who is more of an individual contributor than a manager or a leader.

(4) Develop a Talent Plan® to build a next-level team that you love. If you plan ahead and develop a strategy, you can make a great hire because you won’t be rushed. The level of talent you can hire when you plan ahead cannot be overstated. And when you make great hires, you’ll be amazed at what these unlocking moves will do for you and your organization.

(5) Lastly, we encourage you to play to YOUR strengths when developing this future state org chart. You’re smart and talented but you’re simply not scalable. I want you to focus on your strengths and delegate the rest. What are you doing that someone could do (a) better than you and (b) cheaper than you!?!?!?

I’ll close with one of my favorite client stories, which touches on each of these points, especially #5:

Texture Media realized the need to add someone with operational expertise to their executive team in order to take their recently acquired business to the next level. The team’s grit and ingenuity had historically led the way, but in discussions with HireBetter it became clear that something was missing. They needed to hire the game changer who could build the infrastructure to match the company’s vision for growth.

HireBetter recruited an exceptional Chief Operating Officer who brought both operational excellence and the ability to build a scalable organization.  Moreover, this new talent allowed the business development-minded CEO the freedom to focus where she excels and thrives. Building a team she loved helped take Texture Media to the next level for the CEO.

“HireBetter’s in depth Strategic Talent PlanningTM process led to many ‘a-ha’ moments for us as a company and me personally – especially around putting people in positions where they can be most successful. I now love my team!” – Crista Bailey, CEO

At HireBetter, we want you to experience the business success that comes from having the right team in place. And we encourage you to think strategically about your hiring. Contact HireBetter to learn more about Strategic Talent PlanningTM and how it can help you grow and scale your business.

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