At a recent conference for small business owners, I presented the topic Hire Like a Pro and Build a Winning Team to help entrepreneurs move from operating as self-employed to operating as a small business owner; in other words, helping small business owners position themselves for growth. One essential key to growth is hiring the right people and developing a cohesive team. Although the topic was aimed at small business owners, the same information can be applied to a team of any kind.

Adding employees to your business to build a winning team is a big step for most entrepreneurs; therefore, it is essential that you adopt these three guiding principles before your first hire:

  1. Determine your company culture and brand – Who do you want to be?  What is your brand? It is critical to your business’ success to determine the answers to these two questions. Once company culture is defined, all hiring decisions should align with and support it. Ask yourself what experience you want your customers and employees to have when they encounter your business. Your employees should know why the company exists, and how their actions translate into business success and growth. It is essential that you create core values that are displayed throughout your business and incorporated into your hiring process.  As a business owner and leader, employees look to you to not only post, but to live the core values.
  2. Have a vision for those you hire – Do you see your employees as more than workers?  Do you genuinely like people and want to look out for their best interests?  Do you see your employees as people with purpose requiring your help to make a more significant contribution to society? In other words, are you developing fans of your business?  After all, your employees are a walking billboard for you. They can sing your praises that can draw customers to you, or vice versa.  Having a genuine interest in people can translate to business success. You should want to see your employees evolve and grow. Employees that have autonomy, opportunities for growth and work-life balance will work harder for you.   
  3. Recognize what is holding you back – Most small business owners start out being the go-to person of their organization. As the leader, one must learn to let go and delegate. Are you willing to let go? Eliminate those thoughts that keep you a “doer,” such as being a perfectionist, feeling nobody can do it like you, or thinking there is only one way to get the job done. Implement processes so that work doesn’t stop when you are away from the business. Your business should be set up in such a way that you are not trapped by it – meaning that the people you hire can be trusted with the essential parts of the business, which allows you to focus on the strategic role of the operation, as well as find time to rest, enjoy your family, and find work-life balance.

Whether you are a small business owner or department lead in an organization, before you make that hire and build a winning team, you must take time to determine the right cultural fit, identify the skills and abilities required to get the work done, and implement processes that allow for delegation and time away from the business. All this should be done in such a way that employees are motivated and energized, and feel they have autonomy and work-life balance. Doing these things first will set you up for business success!

Shaunna Tyus, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a human resources retention consultant specializing in helping organizations create great workplaces, so great work can take place.