You’ve heard it plenty of times – as a manager, you’re only as successful as your people. But when your success relies on other people, how do you put together a dream team that will get you great results?
Here are four keys to building a stronger team.
1. Be someone who great people want to work for. Managers often underestimate just how important this is, but managers have an enormous impact on the quality of life of the people on their team. And when you want to attract the best candidates, those are generally people who will have options and who are more inclined to be thoughtful about what type of manager they work best with. That means hiring isn’t just a one-way street; top-tier candidates are going to be assessing you right back and deciding whether they’d be excited to join your team. It’s important to make sure that you’re managing in a way that will attract and retain great employees: treating people well, getting everyone aligned around clear goals and expectations, providing useful feedback and development opportunities, recognizing and rewarding great work, ensuring they have the resources to do their jobs, and generally making your team an attractive place to work.
2. Give your staff real input into the direction of your team and its work. That doesn’t mean that you need to let your staff dictate all decisions – there are good reasons not to do that – but it does mean that you should seek out their input and give it real consideration (while making it clear that you’ll make the final call, when that’s the case). For instance, you might tell people, “I’m grappling with the right goals for next year and would love to run my thoughts by you and hear your input” or “I need to make a decision about how to time this launch and would love your thoughts.” And do take the input you receive seriously – engage, ask questions, explain when you disagree, and give it a real hearing. By doing this, you’re not only going to make staff members feel more invested in your team because they’ll feel that their input is meaningful, but you’re also more likely to make good decisions because you’ll have been able to consider counsel from others.
3. Hire really, really carefully. The biggest lever you have to get results from your staff is who you hire in the first place. That means that you should put a ton of energy into recruiting (so that you have a strong pool of candidates to choose from) and screening candidates, including finding ways to test candidates’ skills and see them in action before making any hiring decision. Rushing to make a hire just to fill a vacancy as quickly as possible might save you time on the front end, but it will often cost you far more in the long-run (as you deal with a team of non-super-stars).
4. Realize that your responsibility for the make-up of your team doesn’t stop with hiring. Managers often figure that they’re supposed to do the best they can with the team they have, but you will get far more done if you consider it part of your job to actively manage and shape your team’s make-up, just like a sports coach does. That means putting real energy not just into hiring, but also into developing team members to help them get better and better at what they do, as well as being strategic about retaining your best staff members and letting go of people who aren’t performing at the level you need.