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Edition 374 – The Right Team

I love working with family businesses. It’s the most dynamic environment I know. To be invited into people’s lives and help them build a better life for themselves and their families is both an honour and a pleasure. Every time I finish up a meeting with a client, I’m often excited for “what’s next” for them out of the work we’ve done together.

Often, a business grows to a point where you need to have a number of key roles filled by good, capable people. In my experience, it tends to morph into this space where you’re building a management team, even though that wasn’t your intention in the first place. The problem with “morphing” is that roles evolve, they’re not designed and, as such, there tends to be, over time, a mismatch between the role the business owner wants performed vs. the role that is being performed – and the fault of the mismatch lies completely at the feet of the business owner.

I’m of the opinion that when you’re looking to build your management team, and once you’ve identified the roles that need to be filled and the tasks of each of those roles, it comes down to four simple points of action:

  1. Direction and Clarity.
  2. Support.
  3. Accountability.
  4. Reward.

Direction and Clarity are twofold – firstly, being very clear about the role, how it is to be performed and the place it takes inside of the management team and the overall team environment. Secondly, being clear on not just “how” the role is performed, but “why” it is to be performed in the way that you want it performed. In many small and family businesses, what brings a good candidate unstuck is their inability to identify the nuances of “why” the role needs to be performed in a particular way inside the business.

Support is all about the General Manager or CEO designing a process that ensures the right candidate in the management team has no reason to fail, other than for their own failings. Too often, I’ve observed situations where business owners neglect a new candidate in the first three months of their engagement, only for them to remark at the 90 day mark “they’re frustrating me, because they’re doing it all wrong”. If only the individual had known that for the previous 89 days.

Accountability is about setting meaningful, identifiable and worthy targets, then creating a formalised system of follow up to ensure the role is being performed as required and the desired outcomes are being achieved. If you, as a General Manager or CEO, are appointing people to senior management positions, then leaving the individual to their own devices without any regular checking-in, you have no one to blame but yourself for the inherent failure of the individual in that role. The oft quoted lament of “I don’t have time’ simply doesn’t’ cut it.

Finally, Reward is all about, in the first instance:

  1. Setting a base that is commensurate with the level of experience the individuals possess.
  2. The contribution they are expected to make to the team; and,
  3. The value (monetary or otherwise) assigned to the role.

In the second instance, the Reward should be about more than money – a whole lot more. It’s about the individual’s standing in the business; their career path development; the amount of leave they’re entitled to (and for some candidates, four weeks may not be enough!); flexible work arrangements; and, investment in internal and external training to develop the individual to their fullest potential.

All of that seems like commonsense to most people. Yet, if that’s the case, why are so many business owners complaining about the dearth of talent inside their small and family businesses?

This Week’s Tip

Why do people spend so much time and effort recruiting new staff, and very little developing and mentoring them once they are onboard?